Sociology and Social Policy BA


Fact file - 2017 entry

UCAS code:LL34
Qualification:BA Jt Hons
Type and duration:3 year UG
Qualification name:Sociology and Social Policy
UCAS code
UCAS code
Sociology and Social Policy | BA Jt Hons
3 years full-time (available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
None, but general studies is not accepted
IB score
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places


Taught by researchers with international reputations in their respective fields, this course explores social problems and welfare issues with social theories and research methods.
Read full overview

The course examines policy issues through a sociological understanding of contemporary society. You will explore social problems and welfare issues together with a study of social theories and research methods.

Nottingham is well placed to offer this multidisciplinary programme as the school is one of the UK's leading centres for teaching and research in the fields of Sociology, Cultural Studies, Social Policy, Health Studies, Social Work and Public Policy. Students will be taught regularly by researchers with world-leading reputations in these subjects.

What is Sociology?

Sociology is concerned with understanding societies, social relationships and institutions like families, workplaces and prisons. It asks questions such as:

  • How are societies created, reproduced and sustained over time?
  • How do class, gender, race and other social divisions such as age and sexuality impact upon people’s access to the world's resources?
  • What social rules and processes bind and separate people not only as individuals, but as members of associations, groups and institutions both in everyday encounters and in the global social context?

Sociology's purpose is to critically examine connections in an increasingly globalised world. We live in a world in which our actions, and those of others, impact upon people who are at a distance from us, culturally and spatially, and who we frequently only know about through mass media.

What is Social Policy?

Social Policy deals with interventions, or the ways in which people deliberately bring about social change. Other subjects may study society too, but are not necessarily concerned with how we can make a better society. Did you know, for instance, that two-thirds of what governments do is social policy? Welfare services are woven into the very fabric of modern societies and economies. Social Policy therefore often refers to government activity, but also looks at voluntary organisations, markets, the workplace and families.

This does not mean that social policies always succeed: they can promote social justice yet they may exacerbate social problems and sometimes even cause them! It depends upon how we judge those policies and that is ultimately about political and moral debates. Social policy is therefore very interdisciplinary, drawing on insights from across the social sciences and humanities, including sociology, politics, economics, criminology and law, history, philosophy, and many more. It is a fast changing, energetic subject to study, especially as the world becomes more global and interdependent. 

There are many questions that we, as students of Social Policy, ask ourselves. For instance: 

  • How can we create a good society?  
  • What causes poverty?  
  • Which countries have been most successful at reducing poverty? 
  • How much money should we spend on the welfare state?   
  • Is the current distribution of income and wealth socially just?  
  • Should public services by paid for by taxpayers or should users have to pay charges? 
  • Should we privatise the NHS?  
  • Should we cut the benefits of the 'workshy'? 
  • Should government provide more childcare facilities? 

Social policy therefore focuses on social problems such as: 

  • Poverty
  • Homelessness
  • Domestic violence
  • Unemployment
  • Drug addiction
  • Family breakdown

It also studies the operation of publicly provided welfare services:

  • Social security and employment policy
  • Healthcare
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Social care and social work

Year one

In the first year, you will explore significant traditions and ideas in the disciplines of sociology and social policy in your core modules. A range of elective introductory modules introduce you to important themes and topics such as deviance, contemporary culture and human rights.

Year two

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 research design, classical and contemporary sociology, and political and moral theories of social policy. Elective modules are chosen from both sociology and social policy.

Year three

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. In the first semester you may also have the opportunity to study abroad.


Entry requirements

A levels: ABB, excluding general studies

English language requirements 

IELTS: 7.0 (with no less than 6.0 in any element)

Students who require extra support to meet the English language requirements for their academic course can attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education (CELE) to prepare for their future studies. Students who pass at the required level can progress directly to their academic programme without needing to retake IELTS. Please visit the CELE webpages for more information.

Alternative qualifications 

Mature applicants, including those on Access courses and those with alternative qualifications are especially encouraged to apply.

View the alternative qualifications page for details.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, The University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.

Notes for applicants 

We are looking for students who have the ability and motivation to benefit from our courses and who will make a valued contribution to the school and the University. We will take into account a wide range of factors including post-school experience and breadth of interests as well as, and in some cases instead of, examination results.

Our degree courses require a combination of different skills, and an ability to engage with new subjects and ideas. These qualities in part relate to academic performance, but we will also look at your interests and experience.



Typical year one modules


Investigating Social Worlds

This module introduces students to philosophical debates on the production of knowledge about the social world, examining the interlocking philosophical and ethical problems that can arise when the methods of the natural sciences are applied to the study of the social world.

It then introduces two of the major research traditions within the social sciences, positivism and interpretavism and explores their links to some basic methods of data gathering employed in the social sciences, including survey methods, interviewing, and observation, providing students with some preliminary "hands-on" experience of working with a variety of sources and methods.

The module's key aims are to:

  • equip students with a basic understanding of philosophical debates about the production of knowledge of the social world, and the relevance of these debates for research methods 
  • introduce students to two research traditions within the social sciences
  • introduce students to some of the main research methods employed within the social sciences and provide them with some very preliminary 'hands-on' experience of data collection and analysis 
  • make students aware of the ethical dimension of social scientists' decisions about research design and methods 
  • provide students with a foundation upon which to develop an ability to formulate appropriate questions and conduct social research and an ability to carry out sociological research in a methodologically informed way
Policy and Social Justice

This module introduces students to the main areas of social policy in the United Kingdom. The module first explores the concepts of policy, justice and key theories in policy and welfare as well as resourcing. The module then goes on to examine the role of the family in welfare provision, and the operation of key public sector services (housing, NHS, social care, social security).

The module aims to:

  • provide students with a basic knowledge of social problems in the UK and to introduce a critical analysis of the social policies and welfare institutions which exist to meet them, through the use of specific examples
  • equip students with a critical understanding of how contemporary social and human needs emerge and are addressed by a range of state, market and familial arrangements
Understanding Contemporary Society

This module introduces students to a range of approaches in social analysis. Through introductions to key concepts, theorists and research studies in the disciplines of sociology, cultural studies and social policy, students will be equipped with the skills necessary for more advanced study of contemporary society.

This module aims to equip students with:

  • knowledge of a range of contemporary and historical debates within social analysis 
  • an understanding of approaches to thinking about society in the disciplines of sociology, cultural studies and social policy 
  • an understanding of the practical, political and ethical dimensions of social analysis 
  • skills in discovering and critically appraising relevant academic literature


You can either select three introductory modules from the list below, or select two introductory modules from the list below plus one module from another school.

Culture, Identities and Deviance

The module outlines key theoretical approaches and concepts associated with the analysis of culture, identities and deviance. It introduces these topics through a series of case studies.

The module aims to ensure that students will:

  • gain an appreciation of the role of culture in social life, through developing an understanding of key concepts and theories 
  • understand the ways in which cultural ideas and practices intersect with identities and generate forms of compliance and resistance 
  • understand the ways in which symbolic accounts of the world are produced, circulated, and diversely received and consumed
Exploring Criminology

This module lays the foundations for further study by looking at the development of criminology as a discipline before going on to consider how crime is defined and counted, and investigate the sources of criminological knowledge.

The main focus of the module is on key theoretical perspectives in criminology, and how they help us to understand and explain different kinds of criminal behaviour from 'juvenile delinquency' to state crime, 'hate crime' to terrorism (and society's responses to them).

The aim of this module is to introduce students to criminology and to the ways in which criminological ideas and theories can help us to understand contemporary crime problems. The module is also intended to equip you with some of the skills you will need to study criminology successfully at university.

Global Studies and Human Rights

The module outlines key theoretical approaches and concepts associated with the analysis of processes of globalisation (social, economic and political) and their implications for human rights. It introduces these topics through a series of case studies.

The module aims to ensure that students will:

  • gain an appreciation of the importance of social, political and economic aspects of globalisation, through developing an understanding of key concepts and theories 
  • understand the ways in which these processes intersect to produce particular patterns of inequality and new social movements
  • understand the significance of the processes for human rights
Society, Health and Environment

The module introduces students to key theoretical approaches and concepts in the Sociology of risk, of health and medicine, and of the environment. These are applied to a range of case studies.

The module aims for students to get an understanding of key theoretical approaches in various fields of sociology, such as cultural sociology, sociology of health and medicine, and the sociology of risk and the environment. Special attention will be given to media coverage, to pressure groups, to scientists, and to politics. A range of case studies will be explored, ranging from autism and AIDS to climate change and nuclear power.


Typical year two modules


Applied Ethics and Society

The module will explore the application of moral philosophy and applied ethics to various social issues including, but not limited to, addiction, abortion, euthanasia, migration and global justice. 

It will review the main ideas and theorists from the fields of consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics and it will introduce students to the contemporary state of various socially and ethically problematic topics.

The module aims to:

  • equip students with an understanding of the principal schools of moral philosophy
  • introduce them to the field of applied ethics
  • apply this knowledge to various contemporary issues that are crucial and controversial matters of public debate
Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory

This module examines selected work by major 19th and 20th century social theorists in relation to three main themes:

  1. What were the major arguments and conceptual innovations introduced by classical sociologists? 
  2. How can classical sociological theory illuminate contemporary social debates? 
  3. On what grounds should certain thinkers be described as 'classical'? What determines whether or not a theorist belongs to the canon of sociological thought? How does social and political context shape the development of sociological theory?

This module aims to equip students to understand the broad theoretical and methodological positions adopted by a range of social theorists, classic and contemporary, and the way their perspectives have been taken up.

The classes revolve around a series of readings and discussion themes designed to help students master theoretical discourses and the claims they contain and to explore how they can be used and modified to conduct the sociological analysis of contemporary phenomena.

Political Theory and Social Policy

As an academic subject social policy is underpinned by a wide variety of social, political and economic theories. Without an understanding of these theories our analyses of both society and of welfare systems are likely to be inadequate. For instance, we may overlook the extent to which policies and welfare reforms are sometimes based upon weak theoretical foundations and assumptions.

This module explores a range of both traditional and contemporary themes and concepts, including liberty, equality, citizenship, needs, class, old and new welfare ideologies, as well as recent developments in welfare theory.

The module aims to:

  • deepen students' understanding of social policy through detailed analyses of specific theoretical issues
  • enable students to utilise abstract concepts and principles themselves, relating these to 'real life' themes and problems
Research Design and Practice

This module introduces students to the principles of research design and research ethics in relation to both quantitative and qualitative research, and provides them with some experience of survey methods and of qualitative research methods in social research.

The module aims to provide an introduction to principles of research design and research ethics relating to the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data and an understanding of the contexts in which quantitative and qualitative research strategies are appropriate. It will explore the basic principles of survey research and its practical components, and address the strengths and limitations of this research methodology.

It will introduce students to qualitative research methods and to give them some experience of carrying out qualitative research in a preliminary way and equip students with a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research.

It aims to equip students with a basic understanding of the range of qualitative and quantitative research methods available, and the respective strengths and weaknesses of each.



Three optional modules, which could include one module from another school. Browse the list of year two modules which the school offers. Please note these may vary from year to year.

Belief, Spirituality and Religion

This module examines the key sociological issues and debates in relation to the religion/spirituality and non-religious belief systems. They include: classical and contemporary perspectives on religion/spirituality, transformation of religion, the spiritual revolution, fundamentalism and politics, religion/spirituality in relation to young people, new media, sexuality/gender, atheism, secularism, humanism, scientism and freedom of expression versus sanctity of religion.

The Body, The Self and Others

This module will encourage you to think critically about the body as a political entity, which carries significant meanings in society in terms of power, resistance, expression, control, deviance, individualism, risk and inequality. It asks: what is a body, what does it stand for and what is its relationship to the self and to Others? What are the social and political forces that shape human bodies and bodily experience, and how are those experiences expressed and read? How are different bodies perceived, valued and treated?

This module will examine the body not through the lens of the physical or biological sciences but as the product of complex social arrangements and processes. In lectures and seminars, the module examines the body as the container and expression of the self, as the object of social control, and as the repository of shifting race, gender and sexual categories.

Ethnicity, 'Race' and Everyday Life

You'll examine the intersection of two key concepts in contemporary sociology - ethnicity and everyday life. In particular you’ll consider the following topics: existing sociological theories of everyday life concerning its political relevance and historical specificity as well as methodological issues as to how 'the everyday' has been researched. Sociological models of ethnicity, the construction of ethnic boundaries and identities, the relationship between 'culture' and 'ethnicity', and its relevance in the contemporary world.

Families and Social Divisions

You'll consider the sociological approaches to the family ranging from early functionalist accounts to the feminist problematisation of such accounts. Starting from feminist critiques of the family, the first part of the module will explore issues of gender, power and patriarchy. Drawing on second-wave feminism, the second part of the module will consider issues of diversity in family practices.

Topics covered will include gender and families, families and class, families and race, migrant and transnational families, sexuality, and age and generation. Contemporary debates around the breakdown, democratisation or continuity in contemporary families will also be addressed.

History of British Social Policy

This module locates contemporary issues within a broader historical perspective by examining developments in social provision since the early 19th century. Students acquire an understanding of the economic, political and social processes through which social policy has evolved. How has the balance between the state, the market, the voluntary sector and informal and family systems of welfare altered? Students will be expected to think about how social problems are defined, and how policies are formulated, implemented and revised.

Human and Child Rights

In principle, virtually everyone is in favour of universal human rights. But in practice, there is disagreement about what kind of rights we should enjoy by virtue of our common humanity, and about who is included in the category of 'human'. This module introduces students to sociological debate on human rights, and uses examples of different forms of exploitation, oppression and suffering in the contemporary world to explore competing understandings of 'rights' and critically interrogate the relationship between human rights, power and hegemony under contemporary conditions of globalisation.

Introduction to Cultural Theory

This module is focused on the conceptual issues that are at stake when we seek to study culture and concentrates on current themes in the study of culture. Through focusing on topics of subjectivity and identity, performativity, memory, emotions and the senses you will be introduced to the work and thinking of a range of cultural theorists, such as: Butler, Freud, Hall, Said, Sedgewick and Williams.

The module will also cover issues such as the formation of hegemonic and marginalised identities, hybridity and globalisation, queer theory, and the relationship [or not] between social structures and individual agency.

Media and Popular Culture

This module examines the historical and contemporary significance of the media of mass communication. In particular this module will examine the public role that the media plays in the context of modern democratic society in helping define questions of public interest, thecontestation of identity and popular pleasure. The module will seek to guide students through a number of debates that have focused on questions related to the public sphere, technology, the network society, the society of the spectacle, globalisation, and the development of new media.

In particular the module will explore the structural transformation of modern mediated societies in relation to the capacity of audiences to make meaning in different settings. This will allow the module to explore the complexities of modern mediated environments in relation to a range of (both new and old) media technologies.

Police, Policing and the Police

The police can be seen as the gatekeepers to the criminal justice system. But there is much more to policing than 'the police' and what they do and this module begins by examining what we mean by 'policing', who does it and how it relates to feelings of security. It goes on to explore some of the most important issues and debates in contemporary policing from police history, culture, governance and accountability to the future of policing and the role of the state in providing it.

Prisons and Incarceration

This module explores aims and outcomes of imprisonment, the penal context (eg. culture and regime), international debates, a focus on Her Majesty's Prison Service in England and Wales, and an historical account of penal styles. General and mental health in prison plus the incarceration experience as an institutionalised existence are evaluated. The nature of imprisonment is analysed via the themes of care, custody, culture and structure.

Social Research and Community Engagement

This module gives you the chance during the second semester of your second year to spend several hours a week contributing to, and observing the work of, a local civil society organisation. The aim of the community engagement opportunity is to give you direct experience of social change, social inequalities, and how community organisations respond to challenging circumstances. 

Sociology of Health, Illness and The Body

When a person is deemed to be mentally or physically sick, this involves taking on a particular social role and coming under the care (/power) of others. This module examines the power relations of medical care; the cultural meanings (and thus 'treatment') of different illnesses; and the impact that illness has on our personal and social identities. Topics include:

  • Medicine and Power Relations
  • The Sociology of Mental Illness
  • Experiencing Illness: Narrative and Identity
  • Morality: Risk, Blame and Shame
  • The Body
  • Post-modern Medicine
  • Care
Theories of Welfare

As an academic subject social policy is underpinned by a wide variety of social, political and economic theories. Without an understanding of these theories our analyses of both society and of welfare systems are likely to be inadequate. For instance, we may overlook the extent to which policies and welfare reforms are sometimes based upon weak theoretical foundations and assumptions.

This module explores a range of both traditional and contemporary themes and concepts, including liberty, equality, citizenship, needs, class, old and new welfare ideologies, as well as recent developments in welfare theory.

Youth Crime and Justice

This module considers historical, social, cultural and political factors which have influenced society’s attitudes and responses to young people and crime. Youth justice in England and Wales has developed as a particularly complex and volatile area of criminal justice, reflecting shifting ideas and anxieties about young people and social disorder. Responses to youth justice are explored within the context of longstanding debates about the balance to be struck between 'justice' and 'welfare'. Also examined are international responses to young people and crime leading to the setting up of different models of youth justice.


Typical year three modules 



For the dissertation, each student explores a topic of their choice under the supervision of a designated dissertation group tutor. Work on the dissertation extends over both semesters in the third year. The subject matter must be relevant to the student's Honours subject and approved by the tutor.

The study may be entirely based on the analysis of secondary literature; alternatively it may involve the collection and analysis of primary data, including documentary or textual data, on a scale appropriate to the work-load involved.

During the autumn semester, the student should identify a topic and decide on an appropriate strategy of enquiry and analysis. Initial reading and planning for the dissertation should be undertaken mostly in the autumn semester, including literature reviews. A dissertation plan is submitted by the end of November. Any empirical investigation should be substantially underway by the end of the autumn semester.

In the spring semester analysis of the literature and any primary material should be completed and the dissertation written up by early in the summer term.

The module aims to give students the opportunity to:

  • choose a topic of study of particular interest and relevance to themselves 
  • engage in an in-depth examination of the topic making use of advanced bibliographic skills 
  • where appropriate, to engage in original investigation, data collection and analysis 
  • explore at a reasonably advanced level the contribution the discipline makes to an understanding of social life and social order 
  • present material clearly and effectively to an audience beyond that of a specialist in the field


Four optional modules which could include one module from another school. Below are the modules that the school offers. Please note, these may vary from year to year.

Analysing Public Policy

The module provides a critical understanding of how policy is formulated, implemented and evaluated. It focuses on key phases of the policy process, from agenda-setting to policy impact and provides an applied understanding of policy analysis by examining relevant case studies eg. child abuse and ageing population. It explores the influence of current trends in light of demographic, economic, socio-cultural and political developments.

Capitalism and Social Justice: Moral Economies of Inequality

The course will address debates over the nature and meaning of inequality in contemporary society. It will consider these debates from the perspective of historical sociology looking initially at the idea of a distinction between capitalist political economy and pre-capitalist moral economy (E.P. Thompson), going on to discuss alternative accounts of political economy as a form of moral economy, such as those offered by Karl Polanyi, T.H. Marshall, as well as recent French pragmatist thought associated with Luc Boltanski, and the arguments of Thomas Piketty.

The module will discuss substantive topics of race, gender and class and also the impact of colonialism (and post-colonialism) on the formation of Western welfare states. The module will conclude with a discussion of sociology as critique of liberal public reason.

The aims of the module are to:

  • understand the nature of social inequality in contemporary capitalist societies
  • understand the principle justifications for social inequality
  • approach these issues historically to understand the sociological conditions associated with changing justifications
Climate Change and Society

This module deals with the interface between climate change, energy systems, society and culture, focusing on: the making of climate science; understanding controversy over the role of climate science in public policies; the social, policy and cultural meanings and communication of climate science and climate change; the impact of climate change concerns on energy systems; the social, economic and ethical issues raised by energy production technologies including sustainable energy; social practices and energy consumption; and climate, energy and society from a global perspective.

Contemporary Developments in Welfare Policy

The module investigates contemporary developments in the provision and delivery of welfare services. It examines the increasing focus on markets, privatisation and consumer choice, partnerships, the personalisation of service delivery, user involvement, and the increasing role of the not-for-profit sector in service delivery. It therefore offers an awareness of a number of welfare institutions, policies and services, including the health service, social care and social security.

Crime and Crime Control in Post-Apartheid South Africa

The aim of this module is to apply the insights and ideas developed elsewhere on the programme in the context of a relatively new democracy struggling to come to terms with a past marked by gross violations of human rights. The module explores how South Africa has dealt with the legacy of apartheid and the persistence of high rates of violent crime. The specific topics examined will vary but may include the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up following the end of apartheid, problems of organised crime and gangsterism, policing and police reform and community safety and the management of space.

Education, Citizenship and Globalisation

This module seeks to connect the historical and more current debates in education to questions of citizenship in a global age. The main focus is through a discussion of sociological, philosophical and policy based issues to explore the purpose of education in a modern globalised world. This however only becomes possible if we question more neutral and instrumental approaches to education and seek to more explicitly explore its connection to more normative values and concerns. In this respect, the course will seek to connect ideas in education to a diversity of ways of conceiving of citizenship now and within the past. Most of the course is informed by European, North and South American traditions within sociology although it will also draw on examples and ideas from elsewhere.

The aim of the module is to encourage students to think critically about their own education and to consider the ways in which the current policy disputes on education and citizenship are formulated.

Exploring Social and Cultural Life Through Films

Using different genres of film, you'll examine contemporary theoretical and empirical debates in relation to issues associated with the production and contestation of identity, culture, and everydaylife. Specifically, the module will explore topics such as identity, multiculturalism, capitalism, consumerism, human rights, youth culture, dress and fashion, intimacy, friendship, sexuality, and transgenderism. Films that have been used in the module includes: 'The Devil Wears Prada', 'The Help', 'East is East', and 'Inequality for All'.

Gender, The Family and Social Policy

A module introducing feminist approaches to social policies and how these have been underpinned by ideas around gender difference and the family. How do policies reflect and perpetuate the gendered division of labour? To what extent is 'gender equality' a real policy commitment? The module will thus examine how social policy excludes or incorporates women at the intersection of the public and private. It also considers how gender intersects with other axes of difference and inequality, such as 'race' and class.

Migration and Transnationalism

You'll examine issues connected to the movement and settlement of people in Europe, considering migration and citizenship debates and practices in a critical, comparative and historically informed manner. The first part of the course explores the political, social and economic factors that cause people to move in an increasingly interconnected world. The second part of the course is dedicated to the examination of the different theories of integration and settlement and processes of inclusion and exclusion.

Nationalisms: the Politics of Belonging and Exclusion

This module provides a series of historically contextualised and theoretically informed discussions of nation-states and various nation-centred or nationalist politics and discourses of identity. Topics covered include the following:

  • The significance of 'the nation' to classical sociology
  • An engagement with a variety of theoretical paradigms and conceptual frameworks pertaining to the historical origins and institutional as well as symbolic 'workings' of nations and nationalisms
  • Discussion of different and competing models of national belonging and exclusion
  • A focus on the changing historical contexts of modernity and post-modernity and their respective impact on nation-states and the politics of national identity
  • Discussions of the contemporary relevance of globalisation and the European Union
  • Analyses of the place of nationalism in everyday life, of the role of memory in the politics of national identities, and of ethnic pluralism    

By the end of this module students will be equipped with an advanced, historically sensitive and critical understanding of the social scientific literature on nation-states, nationalisms, and the politics of national identities. This will be the outcome of extensive reading, seminar discussions, lectures, and of a detailed analysis of a specific case study - chosen by students themselves - of one of a series of key concepts, which will constitute the module assessment.

Sex Crime

The module takes a specific form of crime for analysis, sex crime. Sex offenders constitute a heterogeneous group of individuals, so differences will be explored. Societal response will also beevaluated. The supervision and management of sex offenders will be studied, plus the re-integration of sex offenders into the community. The module also includes an historical analysis of sex behaviours and society's conceptualisations of sexual deviance and socially accepted sexual pleasures. Themes for exploration include notions of age and private/public divide.

Sociological Perspectives on Medicine: The Case of Psychiatry

The module will consider material that contributes to a sociological understanding of current psychiatric practice as an exemplar of sociological perspectives upon the wider field of medical endeavour. The material will include:

  • An overview of conventional schemes of psychiatric phenomenology and classification
  • Contemporary practice
  • Voices from "experts by experience"
  • Mental health law
  • Critical and historical perspectives of mental health practice
  • Perceptions of and responses to risk
  • The nature and sociological determinants of an "illness" model
  • The influences of professional and commercial interests
  • The strengths and weaknesses of policy based upon evidence based medicine
Technology, Material Culture and Social Change

This module uses everyday objects and technologies to explore large-scale social change and the history of modernity. You'll use social theory, material cultural analysis and cultural history to explore the introduction and development of technologies in fields such as transport, communications, computing, social media, fashion and finance. You'll have two optional field trips, possibly outside of Nottingham, to explore manufacture, design and social uses of material objects.

Terrorism and Extremism in the United Kingdom

The aim of this module is to engage with the academic debate concerning the definition of terrorism and extremism and place this in the context of the British experience. Students will explore the causes and changing nature of terrorism and consider both the processes by which individuals are motivated to use terrorist activity and the more collective dynamics by which groups engaged in terrorism are both developed and sustained.

Building on a case study of Northern Ireland, the module will seek to place current security threats to the United Kingdom in context and consider the contemporary debate concerning extremism (animal rights, Islamist, left and right wing). Responses to such security threats will be critically analysed.

Tourism, Identity and Risk

You will explore contemporary theoretical debates in the sociology of tourism, with particular emphasis on how tourism locations are constructed, developed and sustained, the powers and dangers of the 'tourist gaze', tourism labour markets, tourism and identity, tourism and risk, and social/cultural change.



The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.


Study abroad

The University of Nottingham has one of the biggest and most diverse study abroad programmes in the UK, and those who have studied abroad often say that it was the highlight of their time as a student.

On this course, you can apply to spend part of your third year at one of our international partner universities in locations such as Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand and the USA. You'll get the opportunity to broaden your horizons and enhance your employability by experiencing another culture while studying similar modules to your counterparts back in Nottingham (teaching is in English).

Find out more.



Graduates with a Social Policy component in their degree typically pursue careers as managers, administrators and practitioners in the public and voluntary sectors. Our students have gone onto careers in:

  • The National Health Service
  • Housing departments and associations
  • Education and teaching
  • Welfare advice services
  • Local government
  • Voluntary, not-for-profit agencies

These days many also find work in the private sector, particularly in the service industries where jobs in management, retail, IT, 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 and career progression

In 2014, 93% of first-degree graduates in the School of Sociology and Social Policy who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £20,983 with the highest being £52,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU first-degree graduates, 2013/14.

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.  


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help.

Home students*

There are several types of bursary and scholarship on offer. Download our funding guide or visit our financial support pages to find out more about tuition fees, loans, budgeting and sources of funding.

To be eligible to apply for most of these funds you must be liable for the £9,000 tuition fee and not be in receipt of a bursary from outside the University.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

The University of Nottingham provides information and advice on financing your degree and managing your finances as an international student. The International Office offers a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees.  

Key Information Sets (KIS)

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.

How to use the data


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This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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