This degree is an opportunity to combine a grounding in sociology with an in-depth study of contemporary social policy. The course enables you to develop an interest in social problems and welfare issues together with a study of social theory and research methods. You will examine policy issues through a sociological understanding of contemporary society, making particular reference to:
Sociology is concerned with understanding societies, their social relations and their institutions. It explores the social forces that shape our lives, the ways in which people relate to each other in groups and communities, and the structures within which these relationships occur. It calls into question the apparently ‘natural’ structures and stratifications in societies, and tries to understand how inequalities of power and wealth are created and reproduced.
Social policy focuses on social problems such as poverty; homelessness; domestic violence and unemployment. It also studies the operation of publicly provided welfare services including social security; health; housing; education and social care.
In bringing these disciplines you will therefore address some key questions, including:
How can sociological thinking help us to understand contemporary social problems?
What effects does the welfare state have on social inequalities, communities and identities?
To what extent do existing social policies create social justice?
How is the globalisation of societies and changes to the nation-state affecting welfare models and systems around the world?
In the first year, you will study aspects of sociology and social policy through a series of case studies covering topics such as globalisation, the city, contemporary culture, changing patterns of employment, social problems, poverty and social exclusion, mental illness and domestic violence. In tutorials, you will explore significant traditions and ideas in the disciplines of sociology and social policy.
Year two will develop your understanding of the theoretical and methodological foundations of sociology and social policy. We will encourage you to explore these through core modules focusing on the philosophy, politics and design of research, gender and theories of welfare.
Year three provides the opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge through researching for and writing a dissertation on a topic of your choice. There will then be a choice of elective modules allowing you to specialise in your areas of interest.
A levels: ABB, general studies not accepted.
English language requirements
IELTS 7.0 (including 6.0 in any element)
TOEFL iBT 100 (minimum 19 with 20 in speaking)
Mature applicants, including those on Access courses and those with alternative qualifications are especially encouraged to apply.
For details of alternative qualifications accepted, please see the alternative qualifications page or contact the School.
Flexible admissions policy
We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances.
Notes for applicants
Studying abroad - under the Erasmus scheme, we have links with universities in Denmark and France. To study in France you will need to have developed good language skills but students going to Denmark will be taught in English. Under the Universitas 21 programme, you are eligible to apply for a place to study in Australia, Canada or Singapore.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result, may change from year to year. The following list is therefore subject to change but should give you a flavour of the modules we offer. There is the option in each year to take modules from other schools and departments.
Typical year-one modules
Investigating Social Worlds
Understanding Contemporary Society
Culture, Identities and Deviance
Social Problems and Justice
Typical year-two modules
Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory
Research Design and Practice
Health Theory, Policy and Practice
Theories of Welfare
Typical year-three modules
Dissertation in Sociology and Social Policy
Typical optional modules
Gender, the Family and Social Policy
Applied Ethics and Society
The Sociology of Work and Employment
Discrimination in Multicultural and Changing Societies
Analysing Public Policy
Contemporary Development in Welfare Policy
In addition to the subject-specific knowledge that you will build throughout the programe, you will develop key, transferrable skills that are in high-demand by employers. These include written and oral communication, IT skills, statistical analysis, time management and motivation, critical evaluation and team work.
Graduates typically pursue careers as managers, administrators and practitioners in the public and voluntary sectors. Students have pursued careers in:
The National Health Service
Housing departments & associations
Education & teaching
Welfare advice services
Voluntary, not-for-profit agencies, working in the fields of homelessness and mental health.
Many go on to degrees and careers in Social Work; some remain in higher education to pursue research careers.
These days many also find work in the private sector, particularly in the service industries where jobs in management, retail, banking, computing, marketing and the media are becoming more common destinations. This career destination is likely to grow as the private sector delivers more welfare services.
We support our students' employability through careers talks and events and a dedicated Careers Coordinator. Your academic and personal development will also be facilitated by your Personal Tutor, who will be both your academic tutor and provide pastoral support.
Average starting salary
The average starting salary for 2010/11 full-time graduates of the School of Sociology and Social Policy was £19,370.*
*Average starting salary from known destinations of first-degree leavers who studied full-time, 2010/11.
Careers Support and Advice
Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.
Have a look at our Careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.
Key Information Sets (KIS)
KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.
Time in lectures, seminars and similar
Although this figure may appear low, you will undertake a module during your studies which involves over 90% of independent learning. This module is usually a dissertation, thesis or research project and will provide the opportunity to gain research and analytical skills as well as the ability to work independently. You will have a higher percentage of contact hours for other modules.