What is Social Policy?

Social Policy is an interdisciplinary and applied academic subject concerning human needs, social justice and individual and collective wellbeing. It studies how governments, families, companies and organisations in different social sectors distribute and redistribute resources and opportunities to people from different socio-economic backgrounds. Social Policy students will engage with questions such as: why some people in the society are more socially-advantaged or disadvantaged than the others; how government policies can promote or worsen social justice and well-being; and how to design, deliver and influence policies that would promote certain social values. The subject will enhance students’ theoretical understanding, analytical skills, research skills and practical skills in social issues and policy formulation and delivery.

The Quality Assurance Agency subject benchmark statement describes the nature of social policy as a subject, and sets out what social policy graduates can be expected to know, do and understand at the end of their studies.

Where can I study Social Policy?

Social policy is not available in the school syllabus in the UK, but you would come across some relevant discussion in subjects such as Economics, Geography and History. It is not an A level subject but is covered within two Diploma courses: Public Services Diploma and Society, Health and Development Diploma. In Scotland, the Modern Studies curriculum draws extensively on social policy.

Social policy is popular at undergraduate university level, either as a single Honours degree or as part of a broader degree course. University admissions criteria for students wishing to take social policy or social policy as part of another undergraduate course can be accessed through the UCAS website which also lists all undergraduate courses with a significant social policy content. These criteria now include Diploma qualifications. Prospective students and their parents can search, review and compare subjects at universities and colleges in the UK through the DiscoverUni website.

Social policy has also become an increasingly popular choice for postgraduate students. Institutions across the UK offer fascinating taught Masters programmes, as well as opportunities for postgraduate research degrees.

What are the career prospects of studying Social Policy?

National surveys show that social policy graduates have a very good record of finding work in the public, voluntary and private sectors. Careers for which a social policy degree is particularly relevant include management or policy work in central and local government; in key service sectors such as the penal system, education, health and sports and leisure; voluntary and non-governmental organisations, and retail management.

Click here for more resources on career options for social policy graduates

Is Social Policy for me?

Click here for videos of a number of Social Policy students describing their experiences of the subject. If you have an interest in social issues, a passion for developing a better society and the enthusiasm to take up the challenges the subject would offer, you are encouraged to talk to your teachers or career advisers in your school, or contact any of the institutions providing social policy education for further information.

Where can I find out more?

DiscoverUni website: https://discoveruni.gov.uk/

UCAS website: https://www.ucas.com/