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Social Policy with Sociology - BSc (Hons)

This course addresses key questions around human need, welfare, inequality and sociological concepts and debates.

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Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations

  • Community Youth Organisation
  • Belfast City Council
  • Voluntary Organisation
  • Civil Service
  • West Belfast Partnership
  • Save the Children

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles

  • Charity Campaign Manager
  • Community Development Coordinator
  • Research Assistant
  • Trainee Social Worker (fast-track)
  • Youth Worker
  • NGO Worker
  • Policy Analyst


Important notice – campus change Students will complete the next two years on the Jordanstown campus (academic year 2019/20 and 2020/21). Thereafter, from 2021, they may transition campuses. Precise timings will be communicated as we progress through the final stages of the build of the enhanced Belfast campus. Find out more

In this section

This course addresses key questions around human need, welfare, inequality and sociological concepts and debates.


Our Social Policy with Sociology degree course focuses on key contemporary social policy issues and problems facing modern society. The course critically analyses how (and why) social policies are formed and implemented in the UK, and international social policy analysis considers the EU and beyond. A strong research methods component runs throughout the first two years of the course, as do historical and contemporary perspectives of underpinning social policy and sociological theories and concepts, equipping the student for a synthesis of knowledge and understanding to inform the final year specialist modules. We maintain a strong focus on employability, practical social research skills, and a range of soft skills, necessary for employment in a range of jobs in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The major social policy component (two-thirds of the degree) will be enhanced by the minor sociology component (one-third of thecourse). Sociology as a discipline has a long and respected history and you will study a range of sociological theories and problems from classical and contemporary sociology and sociological theorists. Two sociology module are studied each year, as follows:

Following a compulsory Introduction to Sociology, and a module on the Sociology of Health and Illness in the first year, you will study four further modules from a range of options, for example, the Sociology of Advanced Industrial Societies, and the Sociology of Development; and Contemporary Ireland; and other optional year 3 modules such as the Sociology of Education; and/or Racism and Diverse Societies.

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About this course

In this section


The course critically analyses how and why social policies are formed and implemented in the UK and internationally: how key issues and problems of poverty, inequality and social need are impacted by the theories, politics, governance and delivery of welfare. The course maintains a strong focus on employability and provides a robust combination of theoretical and applied knowledge and understanding, practical social research skills and a range of soft skills, necessary for employment in the public, private and voluntary sectors. Two-thirds of the course is social policy and one-third of the course is sociology. Our Social Policy courses at Ulster have recently three times received 100% 'overall satisfaction'in the annual UK National Student Survey - in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Social Policy at Ulster was rated 2nd place in the UK for student satisfaction in the 2016 University Subject League Tables of 'The Complete University Guide'.

Social Policy Staff include an academician of the AcSS, and Chair of the Editorial Board of Sociology. All staff are members of the UK Social Policy Association (SPA); two staff are members of the UK SPA Executive Committee (one is Vice-Chair of the SPA, and one is Chair of the SPA Teaching and Learning Committee). One staff member was a member of the QAA Subject Benchmarking Panel, which drew up the revised 7-yearly Social Policy Benchmark Statement, published in 2015, and operative from 2015 to 2022.

Members of the Social Policy staff team hold the following positions, all of which directly relate to teaching, course content and curriculum development:

  • Oversight Commissioner for prison reform in Northern Ireland, and
  • former Chief Commissioner, N Ireland Human Rights Commission.
  • Chair of the Board for N Ireland Youth Action.
  • Chair of the N Ireland Anti-Poverty Network.
  • Policy Director, and Deputy Policy Director, of ARK.
  • Organisers of the 2015 & 2016 SPA Annual Conference in Belfast.
  • UK Convenor for Social Policy.

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS

Find out more about placement awards


Course duration, full-time mode, is three years.

Students are required to study six 20-credit modules at level 4 (year 1), six at level 5 (year 2), and six at level 6 (year 3), totalling 180 credits at each level. Each module will normally involve two hours of lectures plus a one-hour seminar each week, for the 12-week teaching period. For each module, students are required to undertake a further 168 hours of directed independent learning, totalling 200 effort hours for each module. Attendance at lectures and seminars is compulsory.

Start dates

  • September 2020
How to apply

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The overall aim of the undergraduate provision is to produce policy-literate citizens, as well as graduates with a range of intellectual, professional and transferable skills appropriate to the personal and employability demands of a competitive labour market. These aims of the provision are all in line with the QAA Social Policy Benchmark Statement.

For knowledge and understanding

Learning and Teaching Methods -Lectures, seminars, supervised group-work sessions, directed reading, blended learning using Blackboard Learn, case study work, directed electronic information retrieval, independent learning, and a work-based-learning six-week placement (and a shorter placement for combined degrees) will be used to impart knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Assessment Methods -A broad range of assessment methods are used to measure knowledge and understanding of the subject, including academic essays; report writing; policy analysis/policy brief-writing; directed seminar discussions, small-group project work; writing and delivering seminar papers; class tests; online tests; the dissertation, the placement (Placement Supervisor’s assessment), and unseen examinations.

Development of intellectual abilities

Learning and Teaching Methods -The importance of understanding, recognising and developing intellectual qualities is emphasised to all students at the start of their level 4 studies; and is reiterated at level 5 and especially at level 6. In line with this, and throughout all undergraduate levels, the staff team will actively encourage the development of intellectual abilities and sensitivities through all teaching and learning methods, where possible.

Assessment Methods -The value of scholarship-led and research-led teaching towards developing intellectual abilities will be primarily assessed through the traditional academic essay. This assessment method allows students to clearly demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes against detailed assessment criteria. Self-reflectivity and the ability for the students to critically reflect on their own performance, attitude and intellectual understanding and development, will be assessed through Reflective Learning Logs, simulation activity and through self-assessment of their submitted work. Informal assessment of students’ developing intellectual abilities will be carried out – and encouraged – through directed seminar discussions at all undergraduate levels. Assessment of intellectual abilities will also be carried out through unseen examinations and completion of the final year dissertation.

Building professional and practical skills

Learning and Teaching Methods -The teaching and learning methods used to build professional and practical skills will build on the methods used in teaching knowledge and understanding of the subject, but are enhanced by a strong element of rigorous research methods training at all levels of the undergraduate provision, and an emphasis on independent learning and engendering a professional attitude, including time-management and meeting deadlines.

Assessment Methods -A broad range of assessment methods will be used to measure professional and practical skills, underpinned by the encouragement of self-motivation, initiative, managing and meeting deadlines, cooperative and respectful team-working skills, respectful tolerance of competing viewpoints, and timely submission of coursework.

Developing transferable skills

Learning and Teaching Methods -Teaching and learning methods to develop transferable skills, including information technology skills, will be used throughout all levels of the provision, and will be delivered via lectures, student-led seminars, hands-on computing workshops, project group-work, blended learning using Blackboard Learn, and subject-specific library sessions on effective literature searching.

Assessment Methods -Assessment methods used to measure transferable skills are class tests, individual and/or group oral seminar presentations, practical tasks and exercises within set timeframes, essay writing, project group-work, project reports, critical reviews, the dissertation, and placement reports. Assessment types include staff assessment, self-assessment and peer assessment.

All assessment is governed by the University’s Criteria for Assessment, separately expressed for levels 4, 5 and 6; and of which all students are informed.

In accordance with SENDO (NI) 2005 and the University’s ethos of inclusion, the facilitation of alternative arrangements for students with disabilities will be applied in relation to assessment schemes. A flexible approach will always be taken, using the guidelines from both the Examinations Office and/or Student Support to ensure that disabled students have the same opportunity as their peers to demonstrate the achievement of learning outcomes.


The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

  • the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
  • the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
  • the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.

Attendance and Independent Study

As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

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Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.

The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.


Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.

Calculation of the Final Award

The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

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The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Introduction to sociology

Year: 1

This module provides a general introduction to the main themes and perspectives within sociology. It explores the relationship between social theory, methods and research in sociology, and shows how sociological concepts can be used in the analysis of social processes and social institutions in contemporary society.

Sociology of Health and Illness

Year: 1

The aim of this module is to enable students to understand current issues in health and illness from a sociological perspective. On completion of the course, students will be able to identify significant social, cultural, economic and political issues associated with various aspects of health and illness. Students are encouraged to reflect upon their own health interests by exploring a range of issues related to health, illness and health care.

Introduction to Social Policy

Year: 1

This module introduces students to key Social Policy concepts. They are also introduced to a number of contemporary issues in Social Policy and key debates on topics including poverty, housing education and the financing of welfare.

Policy Making and the Delivery of Welfare

Year: 1

This module introduces students to the nature of politics and governance and delivery in the UK. They will develop a deeper understanding of how policy issues are identified (or not) and the role of actors involved in policy networks. They will also be introduced to issues relating to multi-level governance and contemporary principles and agendas influencing the delivery of welfare. The system of devolved government in Northern Ireland is also explained with some reference to Scotland and Wales, and also governance in the Republic of Ireland. The context of constitutional, political and economic factors is also described.

Qualitative Research Methods

Year: 1

This module will introduce students to essential features of qualitative research through: conceptualizing research, constructing appropriate and effective data collection instruments, interpreting research findings and presenting significant research conclusions.

Social Policy: Analysis and Skills

Year: 1

This module will assist students to develop practical skills that will assist their academic and personal development as they progress through their undergraduate studies. The module will also build support and cohesion among the group through an emphasis on small group tasks.

Year two

Sociology of advanced industrial society

Year: 2

This module focuses on the study of advanced industrial society using an integrated theoretical and empirical approach. Theoretical arguments concerning the nature of advanced industrial society are critically examined. A comparative approach will be utilised to undertake a detailed consideration of specific institutions within advanced industrial society. Lectures, seminars and reading throughout the module are focused on a critical assessment of globalisation.

Racism and Diverse Societies

Year: 2

This module offers students an in-depth exploration of the range of theoretical and empirical approaches to racism in sociology. Students are introduced to a range of sociological approaches to understanding 'race' and ethnicity, and the intersections between these and other areas of significant interest for sociology. They will become familiar with contemporary and historical understandings of racism, investigate structural and cultural barriers to racial and ethnic equality, including the impact of intersections with gender, class, and sexuality on relations of power and privilege, and explore the nature of contemporary racism through recent events.

Social Survey Methods

Year: 2

This module will seek to provide students with knowledge and skills of social survey research methods designing surveys and analysing data sets. This will include the stages of research design from problem definition through to the concept development of a research instrument, piloting, fieldwork, data processing, analysis and writing up.

Social Policy: Concepts and Theories

Year: 2

This module examines some of the key concepts, ideas and theories relating to social policy in the UK and other countries. It provides the theoretical foundation necessary to understand the basis of policy and practice and contemporary debates about them.

Policy Making in Practice

Year: 2

The contemporary policy-making environment requires an understanding of how policies are formulated and consulted. This module helps students apply the theoretical knowledge they have in social policy to the actual policy-making process. They will learn more about how theories and concepts are used, distorted and discarded in the course of policy-making . They will also learn about the evidence-base in research that informs that policy-making and impact assessments.

Poverty and Social Security

Year: 2

This module introduces students the main contemporary concerns of social policy in relation to poverty and social security. They will learn about the History, Concepts and Context of today's social security system ? charting the development of the European Social Model and the British welfare state; the impact of different ideologies on the welfare state; and dimensions of poverty, inequality and social exclusion through the life-cycle stages.

Year three

Diploma in Professional Practice

Year: 3

This module is optional

This module provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to gain structured and professional work experience, in a work-based learning environment, as part of their planned programme of study. This experience allows students to develop, refine and reflect on their key personal and professional skills. The placement should significantly support the development of the student's employability skills, preparation for final year and enhance their employability journey.

Year four

Contemporary Ireland

Year: 4

This module aims to provide students with the opportunity to study aspects of contemporary Ireland in depth. Its focus is on society, politics, economics and culture in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In as far as possible, topics will be approached in a comparative way. Although independent in its own right, the module has close links with other modules in the BSc (Hons) Sociology degree, in particular Sociology of Advanced Industrial Society and Sociology of Development.


Year: 4

This module provides students with the opportunity to 'showcase' their knowledge, understanding, intellectual, practical and transferable skills acquired throughout levels 4 and 5 of the course. As the largest and most substantial piece of work in the degree course, the dissertation is designed to require maximum student input and to foster independent working and self-directed learning, towards demonstrating the ability to plan, design, complete and report a theoretical and/or applied investigation into a well-focused social policy topic of the student's choosing, in a systematic and coherent manner.

International Social Policy

Year: 4

This module will engage students in the study of social policy in an international context. It will explore key issues relevant to thinking about social policy in an international context, including the role of international organisations, non-governmental organisations and multinational companies. The course will also cover substantive policy areas relevant for international social policy, such as climate change, health, poverty and work.

Sociology of development

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module provides students with sociological theories and concepts in order to critically analyse a range of development issues facing 'third world' countries. It is concerned with the comparative analysis of socio-economic changes and historical and contemporary links between Western industrialized societies and the 'third world'. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the nature and origins of global processes, impacts on 'third world' development and the implications for an increasingly unequal world.

Sociology of the Media

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module aims to provide students with the opportunity to study in depth a major and influential institution in contemporary society, the mass media. It focuses on two main issues: first, the relevance of sociological theories and concepts to a critical understanding of the mass media, its structures, processes and social effects; and second, a critical assessment of mass media representations of a range of key social issues and problems, including war, violence and pornography and the political conflict in both Northern Ireland and globally.

Sociology of education

Year: 4

This module is optional

The purpose of this module is to develop a critical understanding of the key theories and themes in the sociology of education. The sociological theories will provide an insight into the way that schools and the education system in the UK functions. Students will be introduced to theories of sociology of education and the changing policy context of education within the UK. The emphasis in on students using literature to understand, critically evaluate and analyse the impact of sociological theory upon schools and education system in general.

Gender and Social Policy

Year: 4

This module is optional

The module introduces a range of debates and theoretical positions, which help students to conceptualise gender relationships to social policy and provision. It uses particular examples, such as reproductive rights, family relationships, and community care, to enable students to identify the implications social policy has on gender.

Civil Society, NGOs and Social Policy

Year: 4

This module is optional

Voluntary organizations have become to play a central role in current policies to modernise the delivery of welfare services and are at the centre of key debates on the future of welfare, the obligations of citizenship and government hopes for civic renewal. This module will enable students to gain an understanding for the reasons why voluntary agencies have come to play such an important role in these debates and an insight into some of the dilemmas and contradictions that these changes have given rise to. It draws on contemporary research in a rapidly changing field.

Migration, 'Race' and Ethnicity

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module introduces students to a range of debates related to migration, racism and ethnicity with a focus on the United Kingdom and Ireland. Historical developments are reviewed but the focus is in current policy debates and perspectives. This includes international and national governance of migration flows and citizenship processes. Key policy areas covered include: immigration, refugee and asylum processes, equality and human rights.

Disability and Social Policy

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module gives students the opportunity to explore the major themes and issues in disability and social policy and how they have been changing. The study of disability will afford the opportunity to understand how social problems are socially constructed and how assumptions about the nature of social needs will affect policy responses. It aims to build on prior learning to enable students to reach a deeper and more analytical understanding of disability as a complex political and social issue.

Ageing and society

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module seeks to develop critical understanding of ageing and old age with particular reference to policy and practice in relation to older people in the United Kingdom. The aim of this module is to equip students with conceptual, analytical and reflective tools to examine the lives of older people in society. A holistic view of older people is presented in relation to the realities and possibilities of the older years.

Mental health and society

Year: 4

This module is optional

No other health condition matches mental ill-health in the combined effect of prevalence and impact across individual, social, economic and mortality measures. This module aims to show how our knowledge and understanding of mental illness have changed over time, as well as indicate the problematic nature of the definition of mental illness. Students will also study the social patterning of mental health and illness and consider variations according to age, gender and social class. Particular attention is paid to the role and influence of user groups in the development of policy and strategy.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

A level

The A Level requirement for this course is BCC*.

* Applicants can satisfy the requirement for an A-Level Grade C by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications recognised by the University.

Applied General Qualifications

Overall BTEC award profile DMM (to include a minimum of 7 Distinctions).


BTEC Level 3 RQF National Extended Diploma with profile DMM.

You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard. Examples of combinations include:

A levels with BTEC Level 3 QCF Subsidiary Diploma or BTEC RQF National Extended Certificate

A level with BTEC Level 3 QCF Diploma or BTEC Level 3 RQF National Diploma.

For further information on the entry requirements for this course please contact the administrator as listed in Contact details.

Irish Leaving Certificate

Overall Irish Leaving Certificate profile H3H3H3H4H4.

English Grade H6 (Higher Level) or above, or Grade O4 (Ordinary Level) or above, if not sitting at Higher Level, is required.

International Baccalaureate

Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum of 24 points (12 at higher level) - 25 points (12 at higher level).

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Pass Access Course (120 credits) with an overall mark of 60%.


You must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass in English Language at grade C or above (or equivalent). The Faculty of Social Sciences will accept Essential Skills Level 2 Communication as equivalent to GCSE English Language.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Additional Entry Requirements

This course is a 'regulated and/or care position' within the meaning of the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (NI) Order 2003 (POCVA) and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (NI) Order 2007. It may involve access to children and/or vulnerable adults and is therefore subject to an Access NI criminal history check, the fee for which is £33.

Exemptions and transferability

If you reach the required standard in a relevant Diploma course in Further Education, you may apply to enter the second year of the programme. Those who have reached an approved standard in a relevant Dip HE or Foundation or Associate Bachelors degree programme may be permitted to enter the final year. We also welcome students through the APEL route and grant exemptions accordingly.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations. Here are some examples:

  • Community Youth Organisation
  • Belfast City Council
  • Voluntary Organisation
  • Civil Service
  • West Belfast Partnership
  • Save the Children

Job roles

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles. Here are some examples:

  • Charity Campaign Manager
  • Community Development Coordinator
  • Research Assistant
  • Trainee Social Worker (fast-track)
  • Youth Worker
  • NGO Worker
  • Policy Analyst

Career options

Our Social Policy courses will provide you with a knowledge and understanding of contemporary social policy, a training in social research methods, the ability to apply theoretical perspectives and concepts to real-life problems, and an appreciation of the complexity and diversity of social problems and society. The degree equips graduates for employment in a range of careers in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors.

You will gain the skills and ability to carry out independent research, to assess the merits of competing theories and explanations, to work as part of a team, and to effectively engage in policy debate with sensitivity to the views of others – all transferable and 'soft' skills that are highly attractive to employers.

Social Policy graduates have high employment rates, pursuing careers in the public sector, working in local or central government helping to formulate policy or manage key services. Some build careers in the voluntary sector and in campaigning organizations with a focus on social issues, and are also equipped with the skills to work in other areas such as management or research consultancy. Our graduates also proceed to post-graduate studies at PhD level or to a range of Masters degrees including Criminology, Social Research Methods, and Health Promotion. Social Policy is a very relevant qualification for admission to postgraduate fast-track Social Work training, and may give exemption from some aspects of study for those seeking professional qualifications in housing and health service management.

Work placement / study abroad

Work-Based Learning

A highly valuable feature of our degree programmes at Ulster is the importance placed on enhancing students’ employability. Social Policy Major degree programmes (two-thirds social policy modules; one-third Minor subject modules) place a particular focus on work-based learning in the second semester of year two. Students are able to apply their acquired knowledge and transferable skills, and gain a range of ‘soft’ skills, through a short period of work-based learning with one of a range of statutory and voluntary agencies in Northern Ireland. A series of ‘ready for work’ special sessions and a personal reflective analysis of their work-based learning experience provide valuable personal and professional development and enhance their employability.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Full-time Social Policy Major students may also apply for a scholarship to study at a university in the USA for their third academic year, attaining a Diploma in International Academic Studies, before completing their final year back at Ulster. Committed to producing global citizens, we actively encourage you to internationalise your degree: Direct Exchange allows students to spend a semester (or year) abroad at one of our non-European institutions in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, USA or Venezuela; Short Programmes are also available in the USA, India, China and Thailand. These exciting study opportunities broaden your horizons and cultural understanding, enhance your personal development and give you a competitive edge by boosting your employment prospects.


How to apply Request a prospectus

Applications to full-time undergraduate degrees at Ulster are made through UCAS.
Please apply via UCAS by 15 January.

Start dates

  • September 2020

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (per year)

Important notice - fees information Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees

Northern Ireland & EU:

England, Scotland, Wales
and the Islands:

£9,250.00  Discounts available

£14,060.00  Scholarships available

Scholarships, awards and prizes

We actively encourage our students to compete for a number of prizes and awards: The annual 'Dean's List'recognises excellence in years 1 and 2 for students attaining a year average of 70% or above. The 'Extern Annual Award'for Best Placement is awarded at a special pre-graduation ceremony on Graduation Day, as is The 'George Mitchell Memorial Award' for the best final year Dissertation. Many students work closely with the Northern Ireland Science Shop in producing their Dissertation, duly rewarded by certification and a ceremony, including an Annual Science Shop Awardfor the best projects across the University.

Additional mandatory costs

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.

Please contact the course team for more information.


Course Director: Dr Johanne Devlin Trew

T: +44 (0)28 9036 6557


Admissions Contact: Ruth McKeegan

T: +44 (0)28 9036 6134


Admissions Service

T: +44 (0)28 9036 6309


For more information visit

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences


  1. The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
  2. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  3. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
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Student Case Study - Part-time BSc Hons Social Policy


Joanne Hullock


BSc Hons Social Policy




Part Time


Grosvenor Grammar School was where I gained my GCSE and A-Level qualifications, and my first employer was the Northern Ireland Civil Service in 2002, working in Knockbreda Jobs and Benefits Office. I gained promotion and moved to several different posts within the NICS before resigning and moving to Bournemouth in 2006 to train as an Air Traffic Controller. Several months into the training I felt this was not the career path for me. I moved to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, met my husband, and worked as an Office Manager for England Athletics, North East branch, mainly responsible for Coach Education. When the North East branch of England Athletics closed, I was made redundant and returned with my husband to Northern Ireland, securing employment with Sport Northern Ireland, where I still work today. I commenced my part-time Social Policy degree just 3 years ago and, during this time, have managed to start a family (two daughters aged 7 months and 2 years), and to continue working full-time.

Case Study Questions

Why did you choose Ulster?

Having studied previously at QUB, I contacted both Queens and Ulster to enquire about the completion of a previously commenced degree. The encouraging response and helpfulness I received from Ulster and the support I received with my application was overwhelming and instantly attracted me to the university.

How do you think studying at Ulster has prepared you for your future career?

The outstanding support, encouragement and knowledge I have gained while studying the part-time Social Policy degree at Ulster has given me the confidence to re-examine my future career and I certainly intend to put my degree and experience gained to good use in my future endeavours.

Describe the support you have received at Ulster.

The support I have received at Ulster has been overwhelming. I have never encountered the level of dedication, encouragement and genuine friendship from any educational institution or workplace that I have received from the lecturers and staff at Ulster. I have also made many good friends in my Social Policy course; I always find fellow students helpful, friendly and welcoming.

What university facilities or resources do you find most useful and why?

As a part-time student, I find the Student Portal indispensable. It is my lifeline to keeping up-to-date with my course when off campus. The online library facility is a goldmine for accessing a wide range of journals and online literature relevant to my studies. I also make good use of the private study rooms and library.

Why would you recommend Ulster?

The friendly atmosphere, extremely supportive and encouraging culture of the university and all the teaching staff, make this the number one university in Northern Ireland. Having had experience of studying at another university within Northern Ireland, I can genuinely recommend Ulster as a leader in supportive education: a university that genuinely cares for the welfare and education of its students.