Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

BA Politics and Social Policy

Join us for our 2016 Open Days

In this Section:

If you want to ...

  • explore how societies understand welfare
  • investigate how other societies work
  • debate what democracy and freedom mean
  • and examine the great ideological revolutions of modern times

... then BA Politics and Social Policy could be the right course for you.


BA Politics and Social Policy combines the study of Social Policy at the School of Sociology and Social Policy with the study of Politics at the School of Politics and International Studies.

This course gives you the opportunity to explore how governments deliver welfare to citizens, and examines how modern societies understand poverty, human need and equality.

You can immerse yourself in fundamental social policy concerns, and investigate specific social policies of governments and other agencies, assessing how such policies impact on people's day-to-day lives.

You will also study the main political theories that structure our political systems, the wider social forces that shape political life, and gain a firm grounding in the institutions and practices of modern political systems.

You will examine British politics, and analyse international issues. You can explore the political systems of other countries, and track the evolution of global politics from the rise of the modern state to the present day.


Year One

Compulsory modules

Comparative Politics explores the political systems of three different nations from across the globe, focusing on their respective political histories, political economies, party systems, social movements and foreign policies.

Freedom, Power and Resistance: An Introduction to Political Ideas asks you to consider and then reconsider whether you believe in democracy, freedom, equality and rights, what these ideas mean, whether they are realised in practice and how power really operates in our society.

Formations of Modernity is concerned with the process of formation that led to the emergence of modern societies, and which stamped them with their distinctive character. It sees modern societies now as a global interconnected phenomenon and the modern world as the unexpected and unpredicted outcome of, not one, but a series of major historical transitions.

Social Policy: Poor Laws to the Present explores the social, political, economic, cultural and global influences that have shaped the United Kingdom’s welfare state. It shows how the Poor Laws influenced ‘Classic Welfare State’ of the 1940s which, in turn, rested upon false assumptions about the nature of the family, of work and of nationhood.

Optional modules

You will choose one of the following optional modules.

  • Understanding and Researching the City
  • Understanding and Researching Contemporary Society

Discovery modules

You will choose two discovery modules from across the university.

Year Two

Compulsory modules

Sociology and Social Policy Research Methods allows you to build bridges between big ideas and social problems. Drawing on the research skills developed at Level One, the module provides you with a thorough understanding of how to design and conduct your own social research, and interpret results in an accurate manner. We explore qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches to social research, providing for how these can be applied in routine and rare contexts.

Optional modules

You will choose one of the following modules.

  • Revolution and Reaction: Political Problems in the 20th century
  • Justice, Community and Conflict

You will then choose an optional module from the following list.

  • British Central Government
  • The Conservative Party from Churchill to Cameron
  • Politics and Policy in the EU
  • United States Politics and Foreign Policy
  • Comparative Politics of Pacific Asia
  • Politics of Contemporary China
  • State and Politics in Africa

You will choose another optional module from the following list.

  • British Central Government
  • North-South Linkages
  • Politics and Policy in the EU
  • United States Politics and Foreign Policy
  • Comparative Politics of Pacific Asia
  • Politics of Contemporary China
  • State and Politics in Africa
  • Theories of International Relations
  • Security Studies
  • Revolution and Reaction: Political Problems in the 20th Century
  • Justice, Community and Conflict
  • Approaches to Political Science
  • Career Planning for POLIS Students

You will choose one of the following  Key Debates modules.

  • Globalization: Equality and Diversity
  • Comparative Public Policy
  • Drugs: Society, Politics and Policy
  • Disability Studies: An Introduction
  • Welfare and Crime: Continuity, Conflict and Change

You will also choose one of the following optional modules.

  • Crime, Law and Regulation
  • Race and Hollywood Cinema
  • Drugs: Society, Politics and Policy
  • Disability Studies: An Introduction
  • Sociology of Health and Illness
  • Racism and Ethnicity Studies: A Global Approach
  • Welfare and Crime: Continuity, Conflict and Change
  • Gender, Race and Culture
  • Tourism and Culture
  • Urban Disorders, Social Divisions and Social Control

Discovery modules

You will then choose one discovery module from across the university.

Year Three

Compulsory module

The Social Policy for Joint Honours Dissertation allows you to choose a topic of personal or professional interest for study. An academic member of staff will act as your supervisor. The dissertation will be between 5,000 and 6,000 words.

Optional modules

You choose two of the following optional modules.

  • Elections and Voters
  • British Political Parties
  • British Foreign Policy
  • Prime Ministers and British Politics
  • The End of British Politics?
  • The Politics of National Identity in the UK
  • Land, Fuel and Agriculture
  • Gender and Violence
  • Violence and Reconciliation in Africa
  • Extreme Right Parties in Contemporary Europe
  • Besides the Sea: Politics, Culture and Society
  • Britain and the EU
  • Europe in the World
  • Politics of Islamism
  • Israel: Politics and Society
  • Crisis Diplomacy: Coercion, Sanctions and the Use of Force in International Relations
  • Radical Political Ideas: Marx, Nietzsche, Schmitt, Foucault
  • Feminist Challenges to Political Theory
  • Video Games: Politics, Society and Culture

You will choose one of the following key debates modules.

  • Governing Cultures, Identities and Emotions
  • Education, Culture and Society
  • State Crime and Immorality
  • Contemporary Children, Young People and Families

You will then choose one optional module from the following list.

  • Governing Cultures, Identities and Emotions
  • Critical Mixed Race Studies - Global Perspectives
  • Citizenship, Identity and Social Change
  • Postcolonialism and Critical Muslim Studies
  • Disability Rights and the International Policy Context
  • Education, Culture and Society
  • State Crime and Immorality
  • Contemporary Children, Young People and Families
  • Discipline and Punish
  • Sociology of Consumerism
  • Class in Everyday Life
  • Protest and Social Movements
  • Understanding Interpersonal Violence

Discovery modules

You will choose up to two discovery modules from across the university.

Further information

For more in-depth information on BA Politics and Social Policy modules, please see our Programme and Module Catalogue.

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