Social Policy with Criminology

BSc (Hons)

2023/24 Full-time Undergraduate course


Bachelor of Science with Honours


Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences


Belfast campus

UCAS code:

The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20

Start date:

September 2023

With this degree you could become:

  • Civil Servant
  • Police Officer
  • Research Officer
  • Policy Worker
  • Youth Support Worker
  • Prison Officer
  • Charity Worker

Graduates from this course are now working for:

  • Civil Service
  • Consumer Council for N Ireland
  • PSNI
  • Voluntary Organisations
  • Youth Work Organisations
  • Probation Board NI
  • Business Account Service


This course addresses key questions around human need, welfare, inequality and criminal justice.


In an increasingly uncertain and fast-changing world, questions around human need, welfare, inequality and wealth distribution are to the fore of public discourse and affect all our lives. These debates are at the heart of social policy. In studying this degree, students will explore how concerns such as new social risks and precarity are experienced by individuals and communities and addressed by policy. These significant challenges require students to critically engage with historical perspectives and contrasting conceptual approaches. Students will also be expected to develop their understanding of the complexities of policy making and governance at regional, national and international levels.

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 organisations with a focus on social issues; others pursue a career in social research methods, as a research assistant or research officer, working as part of a team.

Graduates are well equipped with the skills to work in other areas such as management and research consultancy. Some proceed to further study, pursuing a PhD or one of a range of MSc degrees including Social Policy, Criminology and Health Promotion. This degree may give exemption from some aspects of study for those seeking professional qualifications in housing and health service management, and is a popular route into the fast-track social work qualification.

The BSc Hons Social Policy with Criminology degree programme provides a special opportunity to engage with social policy and criminology issues in Northern Ireland, particularly in the light of UK devolution developments and their social, political and economic implications. The major component of the course focuses on contemporary problems of poverty, inequality, discrimination, social welfare, service provision and social justice; and critically analyses social policy responses with a view to developing better mechanisms for addressing these problems.

Criminology, as the minor one-third of your degree, will introduce a range of ideas, theories and mainstream concepts of criminology and criminal justice, for example, crime and deviance, victims, sentencing, punishment, policing, terrorism, surveillance, and emergent ideas on state crime. These, coupled with knowledge of legal institutions and structures, will provide you with a wider understanding of criminology and criminal justice systems.

Students will study 6 modules each year: 4 modules at each level in Social Policy, the major subject; and 2 modules at each level in Criminology, the minor subject.

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About this course


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 - and crime, criminal justice, policing and prisons - are impacted by the theories, politics, governance and delivery of welfare and criminal justice. 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.

Associate awards

Diploma in Professional Practice DPP

Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS


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 2023

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 (2016).

A variety of teaching and learning methods are used on the degree including 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 opportunity to impart knowledge and understanding of the subject. In addition, a broad range of assessment methods are utilised 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; presentations; online tests; the dissertation, e-portfolios, blogs and unseen examinations.

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:

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 near the start date and may be subject to 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 of attendance will often be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

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 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 Masters 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 via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . 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 four learning outcomes, and no more than two 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 Masters 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.

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 (20%) or Lecturers (55%).

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) by Advanced HE - 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.

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 2021-2022.

Belfast campus


High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.

Find out more - information about accommodation  

Student Wellbeing

At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.

Find out more - information about student wellbeing  

Belfast Campus Location

Campus Address

Ulster University,
2-24 York Street,
BT15 1AP

T: 02870 123 456


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.

Year one

Introduction to Crime and Deviance

Year: 1

Crime and deviance are rarely out of the news with frequent media warnings, for example of rises in `anti-social behaviour'. This module encourages students to look beneath the headlines and examine social constructions of crime. Ideas about `crime' and `deviance' vary over time and place and the module explores popular discourses on these themes. Methods of measuring crime are critically assessed and the fear of crime is explored. The module introduces students to criminology as a discipline and to key theoretical traditions. Students are supported in developing the critical skills needed to evaluate competing perspectives. The module provides a foundation of knowledge and skills for the criminology and criminal justice, and criminology minor degree programmes.

Crime and Criminal Justice

Year: 1

This module will explore crime and its control through an analysis of specific crime problems and the response of the criminal justice system to these problems, drawing upon an array of national and international research evidence, and current developments. Students will be introduced to major offending patterns in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. Consideration will also be given to the agencies, and policy frameworks, around which crime control is organised.

Social Justice and the Welfare State in a Precarious World

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 demographic change, globalisation, technological advancements, climate change 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.

Contemporary Social Policy Issues

Year: 1

This module introduces students to key issues and themes in Social Policy. They are introduced to contemporary issues and debates in Social Policy that impact upon individuals and communities and discuss the effectiveness of policy in tackling these issues.

Year two

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.

Policing & the Law

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module is designed to explore the law and institutions involved in policing and to set policing in a legal context. Thus it will consider the role and powers of the office of constable and the legal framework within which a policing service is delivered including the constraints and obligations on police officers and a police service. It will allow for discussion and challenge in regard to ideas about how policing is and ought to be conducted.

State Crime

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module seeks to explore the definition and nature of state crime in criminological and political discourse. It aims to develop a critical understanding of the nature of the state and the scale and type of crimes committed by state agents and agencies. A range of state crimes will be explored in both the domestic and international spheres. The module will explore forms of state crime as techniques of 'coercive governance' and will use examples from both democratic and authoritarian regimes.

Sentencing and Punishment

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module examines the relationship between sentencing theory, principle, policy, and practice. Consideration is given to how sentences are constructed, and the range of sentencing technologies available to the courts. Additionally, a variety of theoretical approaches are utilised to explore the broader social impact sentencing and punishment has on communities at a regional, national, and international level.

Restorative Justice

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module provides students, who are new to restorative justice with an understanding of key theories. The module addresses principles of restorative practice. It also considers the community, policy and legal frameworks in which restorative justice may be located.

Victims of Crime

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module further develops analytical skills in criminology and criminal justice. It evaluates, in the national and international context, the experiences, and the actual and potential role of victims of crime within the criminal justice system and explores whether they should be afforded a greater role.

Policing and Society

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module explores the characteristics, dynamics and underpinning factors that exist between policing and society. Historically, policing has been the subject of much debate both nationally and internationally, with the delivery of policing services, and, how they are perceived by the community focal points for discussion. Through the policing institutions in Northern Ireland and England and Wales this module will examine how various social, cultural and political forces impact upon the police and the community they serve. It is also important to consider the role of the community in the context of `policing' and examine the various techniques employed by civil society to address issues pertaining to community safety and the fear of crime. The module will also consider the emergence of new crimes in the form of `internet and organised crime' and determine the implications on the relationship between society and the police.

Young People, Crime & Justice

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module provides an overview of the history and development of the modern youth justice system in GB and NI. It explores sociological and criminological concepts relating to 'childhood' 'adolescence' and 'juvenile delinquency'. The module explores crime committed by young people, its causes, consequences and treatment and the victimisation of young people. It critically analyses current debates and issues regarding youth crime and youth justice within a children's rights framework.

Exploring Crime and the Media

Year: 2

This module is optional

Crime and media explores the nature of media influence on crime, the criminal justice
system and the role that the media plays in influencing the public's perception of crime and
criminality. Specifically this module develops analytical and critical skills in exploring and
understanding the conflicting and at times ambiguous relationship between crime and the
media in the twenty first century.

Environmental Crime, Harm and Justice

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module is intended:

• To introduce students to the principles of environmental protection and governance.

• To engage students with critical debates from green criminology that challenge the conventional notions of crime, deviance and justice.

• To promote student awareness and understanding of issues relating to environmental harm and justice.

• To foster the development of applied knowledge of environmental protection, regulation and governance.

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.

Diploma in International Academic Studies (DIAS)

Year: 3

This module is optional

This module provides an opportunity to undertake an extended period of study outside the UK and Republic of Ireland. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline whilst generating educational and cultural networks.

Year four

Crime, Social Order and Social Control

Year: 4

The state has traditionally been viewed as being responsible for managing crime and policing in society. However, this is much more complex and varied than would initially seem obvious. This module will explore and evaluate public and community security from a number of perspectives, providing students with a wider appreciation of how policing is undertaken outside that of traditional state and police perspectives. This will involve an examination of the many configurations which contribute to broader conceptions of policing and security within modern society. Furthermore, the module will provide an understanding of the fact that the state police are but one of many auspices and agencies who contribute to the governance of security as part of common and diverse public demands for policing provision.

Prisons, Punishment and Power

Year: 4

This module includes an overview of the history of imprisonment as a form of punishment; the development of the prison system in the UK; discussion of key debates and current issues regarding imprisonment nationally and internationally. The module also covers the history, development of and current issues regarding imprisonment in Northern Ireland.


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 rationale for the welfare state in an international perspective, and its instruments. It provides the foundations of the comparative method. The course will also cover substantive policy areas relevant for international social policy, such as income security, education, health, environment, and language policy.

Surveillance and the Law

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module explores and evaluates the legal framework within which surveillance operates in the United Kingdom. Considering the role of surveillance in society, the relationship between surveillance, privacy rights and fair trial rights is evaluated with specific reference to data protection, interception of communications, directed and intrusive surveillance, official secrecy, the security and intelligence services and recent developments in relation to identity and identity theft.

Crime and the Media

Year: 4

This module is optional

Crime and media explores the nature of media influence on crime, the criminal justice system and the role that the media plays in influencing the public's perception of crime and criminality. Specifically this module develops analytical and critical skills in exploring and understanding the conflicting and at times ambiguous relationship between crime and the media in the twenty first century.

Terrorism and Political Violence

Year: 4

This module is optional

Since the late 1960s, acts of terrorism have become more numerous and wide-ranging. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September 2001 and the following incidents elsewhere, notably in Madrid and London, have given impetus to the study of terrorism and political violence, not in only in academic circles but also amongst policy-makers. Furthermore, there is a more heightened awareness in the general public about the `war against terrorism'. The module involves consideration of the debate over the definition of terrorism and political violence; psychological, sociological and other social science theories of terrorism and political violence; the symbiotic relationship between terrorists, terrorism and the mass media; the character of state terrorism; trans-national and international terrorism including past trends and future prospects and single-issue terrorism. The module also examines and assesses counter-terrorism (police, intelligence and legal) measures/responses by the state, both for their effectiveness and for their implications for civil liberty in liberal-democracies.

Psychology and Crime

Year: 4

This module is optional

Crime and criminal justice as well as issues of law and order remain topical in contemporary society. This module will provide students a unique opportunity to investigate the workings of the criminal mind and what motivates an individual to commit crime. This module aims to introduce students to the principal theories and applications of psychology within the field of criminology. It enables students to develop a critical understanding of how psychological theory is applied to various criminological settings, which include youth crime; weapon carrying; arson and sexual crimes; psychopaths and serial killers, and criminal profiling.

Green Criminology and Environmental Crime

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module offers students the opportunity to study contemporary issues in criminology, with particular reference to green criminology, environmental crime and justice. It provides the opportunity to understand the nature of how crime is defined and considered outside of academia. It looks at real world issues and discusses the various, and at times, conflicting approaches undertaken by criminologists. Students are encouraged to critically evaluate criminological evidence and to make links with criminological theory and issues raised.

Gender, Sexuality, Crime and Justice

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module will assist students to develop skills in understanding how different theories, concepts, methodological tools and data influence the ways in which we respond to gender and crime. The establishment of a more victim centred approach, and changes to offender management, will form the key elements of the module. Case studies will show how practitioners and policy makers are responding to the extensive reforms within the criminal justice and prison system.


Year: 4

This module is optional

Increasing connectivity to the Internet has resulted in a growing amount of crime and deviance taking place in cyberspace. This cybercrime module examines a series of cyber enabled and cyber dependent crimes, the motivations of online offenders and how such crimes may be investigated and subsequently prevented. It examines the complex nature of cyber legislation in Europe and explores the difficulties of policing cyber activity on the surface and dark web. By the end of the module students will be able to evaluate the uncertainties, ambiguities and limits currently encountered in trying to regulate the Internet and digital technology.

Global Crime

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module examines the various criminal dimensions of contemporary globalisation, their
global extent and significance and the roles they play in shaping the socio-economic
conditions and development trajectories of key global regions. It also considers various responses to global crime and evaluates their success as well as exploring the relationship between global crime and
popular culture. Students will understand issues relating to a) Spatial and temporal patterns of global crime; b) the link between different forms of organised crime and globalisation; and c) the key critiques of crime control measures.

Drugs and Crime

Year: 4

This module is optional

This module offers students the opportunity to study contemporary issues in criminology, with particular reference to drugs use; its consumption, regulation and criminalisation. It provides the opportunity to understand the nature of how drug use and crime are defined and considered inside and outside of academia. It looks at real world issues and discusses the various, and at times, conflicting approaches undertaken by criminologists. Students are encouraged to critically evaluate criminological evidence and to make links with criminological theory and issues raised.

Rehabilitation and Desistance from Crime

Year: 4

This module is optional

Rehabilitation and Desistance from Crime will introduce students to some of the key concepts and debates in the field of desistance studies. The module will encourage an appraisal of the relationships between rehabilitation, risk and resettlement in penal philosophy, policy and practice. Students will engage with debates on 'what works' in rehabilitative practice, and examine how desistance from crime can be supported, or stymied, by criminal justice processes.

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.

Standard 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.

A level

The A Level requirement for this course is BCC*.

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

Applied General Qualifications

Overall BTEC QCF Extended Diploma award profile DDM.


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 (provided subject requirements are met). 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

104 UCAS Tariff points to include a minimum of five subjects (four of which must be at Higher Level) to include English at H6 if studied at Higher Level or O4 if studied at Ordinary Level. .

Irish Leaving Certificate UCAS Equivalency

Scottish Highers

The Scottish Highers requirement for this course is grades BCCCC.

Scottish Advanced Highers

The Scottish Advanced Highers requirement for this course is grades CDD.

International Baccalaureate

Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum of 24 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.

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

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course are now working for:

  • Civil Service
  • Consumer Council for N Ireland
  • PSNI
  • Voluntary Organisations
  • Youth Work Organisations
  • Probation Board NI
  • Business Account Service

Job roles

With this degree you could become:

  • Civil Servant
  • Police Officer
  • Research Officer
  • Policy Worker
  • Youth Support Worker
  • Prison Officer
  • Charity Worker

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 organisations 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 Social Policy, Criminology 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 valuable, highly-praised and long-standing feature of the Social Policy Single Honours degree programme is a full-time 6-week ‘placement’ in semester 3 of Year 2, taken by both part-time and full-time students, in either a voluntary or statutory agency based in Northern Ireland. An excellent ‘employability’ component of the course, the work-based learning period offers students the opportunity to apply (and reflect on) their knowledge and transferable skills in the workplace and to gain new ‘soft’ skills and valuable practical experience in the field.

Diploma in Professional Practice (DPP): Students may also take a one year paid and accredited internship/placement in an approved organisation.

Study Abroad Opportunities: Full-time Social Policy (and modular) 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.


Start dates

  • September 2023

Fees and funding

2023/24 Fees

Fees for entry in 2023/24 have not yet been set. See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2022/23 entry.

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

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

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

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.


Student Case Study - Part-time BSc Hons Social Policy


Joanne Hullock




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.

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.

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