Social Policy and Sociology (BSc Econ)

Sociology and Social Policy BScEcon (Joint Honours) gives students the opportunity to study wider society, combining with an element of social and governmental policy.

The School of Social Sciences is an interdisciplinary centre of high quality teaching and research. Our students enjoy superb teaching and staff-student relationships, whilst harbouring vital transferable skills for a global economy.

Key facts

Duration3 Year(s)
Typical places availableThe School typically has 280 places available
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives 1250 applications
Scholarships and bursaries
Typical A level offerBBB at A-Level, excluding General Studies
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerAdvanced Diploma Pass core and grades BB at GCE Advanced level
Typical International Baccalaureate offer32 points
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.
Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here.
QAA subject benchmark

Sociology; Social Policy and Administration

Academic School
Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Kate Moles , Course Administrator

    The School of Social Sciences is an established centre for teaching and researching Sociology and Social Policy.

    Sociology has been described as a theoretical and empirical investigation of the relationship between ‘personal troubles and public issues’. It is a discipline (increasingly interdisciplinary in nature) dedicated to the study of social life as found organised in groups, institutions and societies. Indeed, sociology provides critical tools for handling the analysis of all aspects of social conduct, from the intricacies of face-to-face interaction to the ways in which economic forces shape and are shaped by global society. In addressing these concerns sociology develops and adopts a wide range of methods from observational and ethnographic through to statistical and historical research and, of course, research that combines the strengths of different approaches.

    Social Policy is the study of how societies respond to human need and seek to promote the well-being of their members. It examines policies in a wide variety of areas, including social security, education, health, housing and personal social services, as well as policies seeking to address new challenges such as tackling global warming and promoting environmental sustainability.

    Studying Social Policy provides students with a critical understanding of the challenges of responding to human need and managing the provision of social services. This includes debates about the goals of policy: how we decide what human needs are, whose responsibility it is to meet human needs, and what we mean by ‘social justice’. Social Policy provides students with a thorough grounding in key debates and theories regarding the state, society and well-being. Students will learn how to evaluate and interpret evidence, apply theories and examine policies in an objective fashion.

    This joint programme offers students the opportunity to link theoretical analysis with empirical enquiry, to explore their underpinning assumptions and to investigate the research basis of contemporary policy and practice. Social Policy is taught with an interdisciplinary approach and invites students to explore the historical, sociological, and political dimensions of social policy. 

    Both theory and method are central to this joint degree. Modules draw upon a wide range of qualitative, observational, statistical, historical and comparative data and methods to investigate crime and its control and education and society. Students will benefit from the impressive range of theory and research methods expertise within the School of Social Sciences. Studying Sociology and Social Policy together offers the chance to obtain an excellent grounding in contemporary theories, policies, methods and debates whilst also developing a wide range of transferable skills. 

    The School of Social Sciences is in a unique position to offer the Sociology and Social Policy joint programme within an interdisciplinary social sciences context. Our undergraduate students are introduced to the challenge and excitement of being part of a research-inspired environment. For example final year students usually undertake a dissertation in Sociology or Social Policy supervised by experts in their field.

    Year one

    Year two

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Social Research MethodsSI003020 credits
    Poverty & Social Security in the UKSI026020 credits
    Social Policy AnalysisSI006720 credits
    Social TheorySI006620 credits
    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Gender Relations and SocietySI007220 credits
    Children and ChildhoodSI014120 credits
    Offending and VictimisationSI020120 credits
    Responses To CrimeSI020220 credits
    Sociology of EducationSI023420 credits
    Migration, 'Race' and Ethnic RelationsSI023520 credits
    Cultural SociologySI023920 credits
    Ethnography and Everyday LifeSI024320 credits
    Inequality & The Division of LabourSI007520 credits

    Year three

    For year three, students will have a choice of modules, but will be expected to take at least 40 credits from each the following groups:

    For Social Policy:

    • Conflict and Change in Educational Policy
    • Power, Politics and Policy
    • International and Comparative Social and Public Policy

    For Sociology:

    • Globalisation and Social Change
    • Metropolis : Urban Life and Consumer Culture
    • New Frontiers in Sociology
    • Science, Risk and Resistance in a Global Age
    • Power, Culture and Identity
    • Sociology of Health, Illness and Medicine

    All other modules are optional.

    The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

    In the School of Social Sciences you will learn from scholars who are shaping the future of their fields. Our courses reflect both the core ideas of their disciplines and contemporary debates, theories and research.

    In year one you will lay the foundations for later specialist study, taking a number of core modules and following a study skills programme designed to help you make the transition to higher education. In years two and three, you will be encouraged to study and learn more independently, giving you the opportunity to read more widely and to develop your own interests

    Assessment methods vary from module to module but, across the degree scheme as a whole, you can expect a mixture of exams, essays, practical work, presentations, and individual and group projects. Depending on your degree scheme, you may also undertake a final year dissertation that will give you the opportunity to focus on one topic in depth and further develop your research and analytic skills.

    As social science develops in response to the social world, so too our curriculum changes.  Our students play an important role in these developments, with the Staff-Student Panel being consulted about major changes and all students completing module evaluations and an annual student survey.

    In 2013/14, 95% of School of Social Science graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

    Turning theory into practical application and providing experience of the working world are important facets of preparing our graduates for life outside of education.

    We encourage our students to think about life beyond University from day one, offering modules and support to give you a competitive advantage on graduating.

    Our dedicated Placements Manager offers advice on available work placements, internships, work experience and opportunities to enhance your CV and broaden your horizons. Support with job applications and interview techniques is also available.


    3 Year(s)

    Next intake

    September 2016

    Places available

    Typical places available

    The School of Social Sciences admits over 340 students to their undergraduate degree programmes every year

    Applications received

    Typical applications received



    QAA subject benchmark

    QAA subject benchmark

    Sociology; Social Policy and Administration

    What are the aims of this Programme?

    Sociology is concerned with the study of society, culture and institutions and is one of the disciplines central to making sense of globalisation and social change. Change is intrinsic to social life, and this drives sociology's dynamic character. Studying Sociology will help you understand and question some of the important transformations that we hear talked about in the media: including changes in family life, the worlds of work, culture and leisure, new technologies, social inequalities, children and childhood, sexualities and much more besides.

    Social Policy provides students with a comprehensive understanding of contemporary developments and challenges in social policy. Social policy is an interdisciplinary and applied subject which studies the distribution of welfare and well-being within societies. Its focus is on the ways in which society meets the basic human needs of the populations.

    Together the programme offers students the opportunity to link theoretical analysis with empirical enquiry, to explore their underpinning assumptions and to investigate the research basis of contemporary social transformations, policy and practice.

    Both theory and method are central to this degree scheme. Modules draw upon a wide range of qualitative, observational, statistical, historical and comparative data and methods to investigate the nature of human social life and contemporary policy-making. Students will benefit from the impressive range of theory and research methods expertise within the School of Social Sciences. Studying Sociology and Social Policy together offers the chance to obtain an excellent grounding in contemporary theories, policies, methods and debates whilst also developing a wide range of transferable skills. It means you will be able to identify, understand and critique the evidence-base of much current public, civic and social policy.

    Degree programmes in SOCSI reflect the National Qualification Framework and benchmark standards of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) (

    The programme provides an excellent starting point from which to participate effectively in the research and policy process, and to become equipped for a dynamic labour market.

    It also provides the foundation to develop a range of careers in social welfare, public policy, social research and related areas.  Thus career destinations are varied and include human resources, health, housing, social services - and research within local and national government.

    What is expected of me?

    Most modules are 20 credits. Students are expected to allocate 200 hours of study time to each of them: this is made up of lectures (22-24 hrs in Years 2 and 3, 44-48 in Year 1), tutorials/seminars/workshops (8-10 hours), independent study and time spent on assessment tasks. Students should attend all lectures and are required to attend all seminars.

    Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study, which can be found at:

    Students are also expected to maintain regular contact with the personal tutor and, where appropriate, inform the School of any extenuating circumstances that might affect their academic performance.

    In SOCSI we take the responsibility we share with you to support your learning seriously and if you have any particular requirements it is important that you let us know. In some instances you may just want to talk to your personal tutor or a member of the teaching team on a particular module. We also have a Disabilities contact and work closely with the Student Support Service.

    How is this Programme Structured?

    This is a 3 year full time programme, consisting of 120 credits a year.

    Will I need any specific equipment to study this Programme?

    No specific equipment required

    What skills will I practise and develop?

    Students will acquire and develop a range of skills, including both discipline specific and generic employability skills. These include: communicating and presenting oral and written information, arguments and ideas (individually and as part of a team); using ICT (word processing, data bases, internet communication, information retrieval and on-line searches); interpreting and presenting relevant numerical information through compulsory year 1 and 2 research methods modules; demonstrating interpersonal skills to enable team/group work; recognising, recording and communicating skills and knowledge to achieve personal/career goals; managing  learning and performance (including time management); demonstrating a commitment to continuing learning and development.

    In year two a Research Methods module provides an opportunity to carry out your own small-scale empirical project, guided by regular meetings with an academic specialising in the topic area. Both this and the Third Year Dissertation help you become confident with self-guided study as well as gain experience of a broad range of practical research skills.  Supervision sessions in both modules provide the opportunity to discuss emergent issues and negotiate individual learning outcomes. This will develop collaborative, time-management, communication and presentational skills.

    How will I be taught?

    Each year of study consist of 120 credits, usually taught as six 20 credit modules. In each academic year, there will be a number of core modules that provide the essential foundation for the degree scheme plus a number of optional modules that allow you to tailor your academic work to your own strengths and interests. In the third year, students have the opportunity to undertake a dissertation. The dissertation is counted as a double module and provides the opportunity for independent study and research supported by an academic supervisor.

    A diverse range of teaching and learning styles are used throughout the degree. Students will attend lectures, participate in tutorials or seminars and carry out practical tasks as individual or group activities. Seminar and practical work is particularly important as it provides an opportunity to student to obtain feedback on their progress and understanding throughout the academic year.

    You will receive formal feedback on your assessments in a variety of ways. You will receive individual, written feedback on coursework, the purpose of which is to improve your understanding of the subject and develop transferable skills that can be applied elsewhere. General feedback will also be given on examinations, with individual feedback available for students who have failed the module and require a resit. Many modules also offer formative assessments, which enable you to develop your skills and obtain feedback without affecting your final module mark.

    Some teaching will take place within the School of Social Sciences and some will be in other locations within the University campus.

    How will I be assessed?

    Each of the taught modules within the programme will be assessed using one or more of the following in-course assessments:

    • Essays and coursework;
    • Formal seen and unseen examinations;
    • Class tests;
    • Written reports;
    • Group presentations
    • Oral presentations;
    • Dissertation.

    There are also opportunities for formative assessment: assessments which do not formally count towards the final grade and are therefore an opportunity for you to gain insight and feedback on your progress. We place a particular emphasis on formative assessment in the first year.

    Arrangements may be made to vary or substitute assessments for students with disabilities.

    How will I be supported?

    Students will be allocated a personal tutor for the duration of their studies. Tutors make themselves available for scheduled meetings to discuss progress and provide advice and guidance, but they can also be called upon when needed.

    All modules within the programme make use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Blackboard, on which students will find course materials, links to related materials and information relating to assessment tasks. Additional module-specific support is provided by seminar tutors, lecturers and/or module convenors. Support for the dissertation is provided by a supervisor who will meet with students regularly.

    Opportunities for students to reflect on their abilities and performance are also made available via the University’s central services, which include:

    • Academic and Skills Development Centre:
    • Information Literacy Resource Bank:
    • Careers Advice and Guidance:

    What are the Learning Outcomes of this Programme?

    A typical graduate from this programme will be able to:

    • critically assess evidence from a range of social science disciplines;
    • appreciate how social policies are continuously reconstructed and changed;
    • develop an understanding of  key concepts and theories of welfare, including theories of the state and of policy-making and implementation
    • understand key concepts and theoretical approaches that have been developed and are developing within sociology and social policy
    • evaluate competing theories of the principles and purposes of different dimensions of social policy and sociology
    • assess theories in relation to evidence
    • demonstrate an awareness of social context, the nature of social processes and social diversity and inequality
    • demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between individuals, groups and social institutions
    • understand the social processes underpinning social change
    • appraise and use a range of qualitative and quantitative research strategies and methods
    • demonstrate intellectual independence, critical engagement and responsibility for their own, and others’, continuing learning

    Other information

    The distinctive features of the Scheme include:

    • the opportunity for students to learn in a School that was ranked 3rd in the UK for research quality in sociology and 5th for education in the 2014 Research Excellent Framework (REF)
    • the involvement of research-active staff in Scheme design and delivery
    • the emphasis on independent learning in a research-led environment
    • the variety of modules on offer in a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary School
    • progression through core and specialist option modules
    • the emphasis on developing practical research skills that will serve students well in the future.

    Admissions tutors

    Dr Kate Moles , Course Administrator

      Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.