University of Nottingham social policy

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

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Sociology and Social Policy BA2022

Sociology and Social Policy BA

  • UCAS: LL34
  • A level offer: ABB excluding general studies, critical thinking and CIE thinking skills
  • Start date: September 2022
  • Duration: 3 years full-time (available part-time)

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Course overview

What social norms bind or separate us? How should we run a society to best cater for all its citizens? How do individuals or groups bring about social change at a local and global level?

On our BA Sociology and Social Policy degree, you’ll question and explore the workings of contemporary societies and how they shape the lives of diverse groups and individuals. You’ll also consider how the state responds to major social problems such as poverty, homelessness, domestic violence and unemployment, so you can discover how to make a difference in our increasingly complex world.

You can tailor your degree to your interests and career goals through optional modules that examine subjects like identity, miscarriages of justice, international social policy and cults. You can also enhance your CV by studying abroad at a partner institution in locations like Australia, the USA or Canada.

Why choose this course?

Gain real experience

as part of our placements scheme

Tailor your degree

to your career aspirations through a wide range of optional modules

Award-winning teaching

Teaching often recognised by awards such as the University Chancellor’s Award for teaching quality

10th for social policy

in the UK

The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

Study abroad

in locations such as Australia, Canada and the USA

Gain real experience

as part of our placements scheme

Tailor your degree

to your career aspirations through a wide range of optional modules

Award-winning teaching

Teaching often recognised by awards such as the University Chancellor’s Award for teaching quality

10th for social policy

in the UK

The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

Study abroad

in locations such as Australia, Canada and the USA

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A levelABB excluding general studies, critical thinking and CIE thinking skills
IB score32

Mature students

At the University of Nottingham we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on our mature students webpage.

Notes for applicants

We are looking for students who have the ability and motivation to benefit from our courses and who will make a valued contribution to the school and University. We will take into account a wide range of factors including post-school experience and breadth of interests as well as exam results.

Our courses require a combination of different skills, and an ability to engage with new subjects and ideas. These qualities in part relate to academic performance, but we will also look at your interests and experience.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Our teaching is delivered through several modes including lectures, seminars and workshops. Independent study is an important aspect of learning at university and you will be expected to undertake preparatory reading and/or research before you attend your classes.

Our staff deliver teaching that is essential for you to understand the key ideas and contemporary thinking in your discipline (known as core modules) and teaching that is more specialist and based on their own research expertise (known as optional modules). All students will be required to take specific core modules relevant for their programmes and be given flexibility in the optional modules they choose to fit with their own personal interests. Find out more by watching our optional module videos.

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

How you will be assessed

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • Examinations

Contact time and study hours

You’ll have at least 8-12 hours per week of contact time at lectures, seminars and tutorials. You will also be expected to undertake independent study.

Study abroad

On this course, you can apply to spend a semester studying abroad at one of our partner institutions in locations such as Australia, Canada and the USA.

Teaching is typically in English, but there may be opportunities to study in another language if you are sufficiently fluent.

This will give you the opportunity to broaden your horizons and enhance your CV by experiencing another culture. You can choose to study similar modules to your counterparts back in Nottingham, or expand your knowledge by taking other options.

Study abroad locations are based on existing destinations. Options may change due to, for example, curriculum developments, updates to partnership agreements or travel restrictions. Where changes occur, these will be reflected on our course webpages as soon as possible.

Year in industry

An optional placement year is available for all undergraduate students whose course does not have a compulsory placement or study abroad element. The University’s Careers and Employability Service will support you in arranging this.


Our placements and internship programme provides local, national and international placements to ensure our graduates are competitive in the current job market. You’ll have the opportunity to develop key skills and experience in the workplace.


In the first year, you will be introduced to significant traditions and ideas in the disciplines of sociology and social policy.

You will explore important themes and topics such as deviance, contemporary culture, citizenship and globalisation.

Core modules

Global Sociology

Globalisation means that societies are more interlinked than ever before. A range of different problems and issues now unfolds globally, but their effects are felt socially. This module seeks to understand the how the global and the local intersect, with a particular focus on human rights. For example, many communities are struggling with violent conflict, economic inequality, or environmental destruction. Other groups are searching for identity, justice, or a better life. Conversely, social issues or political debates affecting local communities often have global causes and consequences.

Over the course of the semester, we will consider how global and local experiences interact, and build up a theoretical understanding of their social political and economic causes. In doing so, you will learn how sociology can help us make sense of an increasingly complex world, and how to locate human rights issues within changing global circumstances.Identity in Popular Culture

The study of culture illuminates how we understand ourselves and others and the meanings we attribute to the world around us. By examining culture we see that many of the ‘common sense’, ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ understandings we have of what it means to be male or female, gay or straight, white or black, middle class or working class, are specific to our particular society, and are also laden with implicit judgements about the relative worth of these identities.

This module considers a range of cultural forms, from the everyday popular culture that surrounds us in our daily lives, such as Hollywood films, reality TV and ‘ethnic’ cuisine, and explores the ways in which social identities and social relations such as class, gender or racial difference are represented and played out in popular culture.Introducing Social Policy

Focusing on the main concepts and approaches to social policy, this module assumes little or no background knowledge. It looks at the means by which something is framed as a social problem, with particular reference to poverty and issues of exclusion.

You will be introduced to the main areas of social policy, mainly in the UK, and explore how different social groups experience social policies, the interaction of public, private, voluntary and informal sectors in welfare provision, and ways in which it is financed.Investigating Social Worlds

This module introduces you to the nature of social research through exploration of the fundamental philosophical, methodological and ethical debates on ‘how to think of social research’ and ‘how to do social research’.

The module begins with discussions of the primary features, functions and characteristics of social research, the distinctions between social research and other modes of investigating and producing knowledge about the social world and the steps typically involved in conducting social research.

Next, attention is focused on social research paradigms and how the different ontological, epistemological and methodological specificities map onto research questions, methods and designs. Attention will then be placed on some of the principal methods of data collection in the social sciences such as surveys, social experiments, interviews, visual methods, group discussions and observation.

The module concludes by examining issues of ethics, status, power and reflexivity in social research. Understanding Contemporary Society

The first part of the module introduces you to some of the contemporary and historical debates in social sciences in the 21st century.

The social sciences are centrally concerned with the investigation of a changing world and the recent arrival of the internet, globalisation, migration and other features will be investigated. However social science is a discipline with a long historical tradition. Here it is key that you have a working knowledge of Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Du Bois to understand the world of the 19th and early 20th century. The module explores the historical and contemporary relevance of these ideas.

The second part of the course mostly relies upon the social science thinking of the 20th and 21st century. Questions such as the impact of the arrival of the consumer society, the importance of difference and diversity, the role of utopia, the importance of art and social movements, the development of the network and mediated society, issues related to gender identity and sexuality, and our shared ideas about the urban setting and the future are all covered in this part of the course.

Overall, you will be introduced to a range of different perspectives in helping you understand a changing world.Why Do Policies Fail?

This module provides an introduction to the evaluation of public and social policy, adopting a problem-solving, case-study approach informed by a range of policy areas. Through this, you are introduced to major concepts and topics including:

  • Introduction to policy evaluation: definitions and key concepts
  • Policy problems, solutions and failures
  • Evaluation and the policy-making cycle
  • Policy dynamics and path dependency
  • Assessing policy and public interventions: evidence and perceptions
  • Models and approaches to policy evaluation (including basic evaluation designs)
  • Comparing public and social policies (including international perspectives)
  • Stakeholders and public engagement

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 26 April 2021.

University Park Campus

Where you will learn

University Park Campus

University Park Campus covers 300 acres, with green spaces, wildlife, period buildings and modern facilities. It is one of the UK’s most beautiful and sustainable campuses, winning a national Green Flag award every year since 2003.

Most schools and departments are based here. You will have access to libraries, shops, cafes, the Students’ Union, sports village and a health centre.

You can walk or cycle around campus. Free hopper buses connect you to our other campuses. Nottingham city centre is 15 minutes away by public bus or tram.

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2021*Keep checking back for more information*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.

You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles.

If you choose to take an optional placement module, you will need to factor in travel costs, which will be dependent on location of placement and proximity to term-time address.

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A ‘home’ student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.International scholarships


Your personal tutor will oversee your academic and personal development, and will offer support with your studies and welfare. There are also regular careers talks and events on enhancing your CV.

Our graduates are valued by employers for their ability to:

  • develop an argument and justify it with evidence
  • write coherently and succinctly with a clear structure
  • complete work on time and to the specification required
  • think critically and challenge accepted ideas
  • select, collect and analyse relevant materials in order to carry out independent research
  • present their work verbally and in writing
  • work as a team to achieve goals

In addition to the subject-specific knowledge that you will build throughout this course, you will develop key transferable skills that are in high-demand by employers.

Graduate destinations

Many of our graduates choose careers where they can make a real difference to society. They follow a wide range of pathways including criminal justice, healthcare, welfare and education. The breadth of skills you’ll acquire on your degree will also enable you to pursue a career in numerous sectors including journalism, PR, marketing and IT.

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“I enjoyed studying sociology and social policy as I have a keen interest in people and society generally, with regards to the development of society, the way people function and interact, together with the complexities of humanity. “Laura Dennis

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Want to know more?

Apply nowBook an open dayMake an enquiry University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learningTeaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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