Social Policy students learn how to tackle major policy problems. They do this by applying core concepts from social science to intractable social problems such as gender inequality, eldercare, children's rights and climate change. As an applied and critical social science, you will gain knowledge and understanding of contemporary government policies and consider how we can achieve improvements.
Sociology is a scientific discipline concerned with the explanation of social life and human behaviour of all kinds. It equips students with the skills to understand the breadth of social practice, ranging from the global (including power and politics, conflict and peace processes, security, the digital world, climate change, racism and social justice) to individual experiences (such as the body, intimacy, emotions, identity, beliefs and mental health). Through theoretical tools and methodological techniques, Sociology at Queen’s provides students with a unique way of interacting with the world as critical and engaged citizens.
Drawing on multidisciplinary ideas from politics, sociology, economics and law, this course helps create highly relevant and versatile graduates with the ability to enter employment at local, national and international levels.
Social Policy and Sociology Degree highlights
Social Policy is ranked 16th in the UK (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020).
- Students have the opportunity to spend time studying in one of our linked universities in Europe.
- There is also the opportunity to study or work abroad, supported by schemes such as Erasmus and Study USA.
Internationally Renowned Experts
- Social Policy and Sociology is taught by a group of internationally recognised researchers who specialise in areas such as criminal justice policy, prisons, community sanctions, drug use, youth justice, conflict, social justice, gender inequality, population change and human rights.
- Students in the School are educated in a dynamic academic environment by award-winning teaching staff, and in a recent government-sponsored review of research, staff in the School achieved 'world-leading' and 'international excellence' status for the high quality of their research work.
- Students can expect personal attention as classes are smaller when you take joint honours Social Policy with Criminology or Sociology.
“Sociology and Social Policy was a perfect fit for me and I’ve grown to really love both disciplines. Over the last three years I’ve been inspired by my lecturers’ passion and commitment for their work and it has urged me on to carve a career path where I can work on projects that I love and feel passionate about also. In August I got a job working for NISRA and I’m currently placed in the department for communities doing policy research. It’s such a great feeling to have walked out of university and into a job where I am doing work that I really feel is worthwhile. This would not have been possible without the inspiration and motivation that I received from all my lecturers.”
Lauren Kinnear, BA Social Policy and Sociology (2016)
Introduction The degree concentrates overall on policy in the UK and Ireland, but also takes a comparative perspective that explores, where appropriate, how other nations provide public services.
All of the optional modules are taught by experts in the area, who have published textbooks and research articles on the topic at hand.
Stage 1 Core Modules - Introducing Social Policy
- Rethinking Society
- Themes and Issues in Social Policy
- Digital Society
- The Sociological Imagination
Stage 1 Optional Modules - Introducing Criminology
- Visualising the Social World
Stage 2 Core Modules - Welfare in Theory and Practice
- The Power of Social Theory
- Qualitative Research Skills
- Quantitative Research Skills
Stage 2 Optional Modules - Social Inequalities and Diversity
- Questions for an Ageing World
- Theory Counts
Stage 3 Core Modules - Policy Briefing Paper
- Gender, Family and Social Policy
- Disability and Society
Stage 3 Optional Modules - Contemporary Irish Society
- Religion: Death or Revival
- Modern Families, Intimate and Personal Relationships
- Norms and Social Change
- Emotion, Power, Politics
- Global Risk Society
- Modelling the Social World
- Social Identity: Difference and Inequalities
- Welfare States on the Move: Social Policy Reform in Comparative Perspective
The Optional Q-Step Exit Pathway Students who wish to benefit from specialist training in quantitative research can undertake a series of dedicated social science research modules over the course of their degree studies. Successful completion of 80 CATS credits of advanced quantitative research training (four modules) in level 2 and level 3 will receive the enhancement of BSc “with Quantitative Methods” added to the name of the degree awarded. What else will you do? Students will receive detailed instructions on assignments in tutorials or in one-to-one meetings with tutors and lecturers.
People teaching youDr Gemma Carney
Programme Director for BA Joint Honours Social Policy and Sociology
SSESWDr Jonathan G. Heaney
Lecturer in Sociology
Jonathan teaches social theory and undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and researchers the sociology of affect and emotion, power, and political sociology. He is also Senior Personal Tutor.
Contact Teaching Times
Large Group Teaching 6 (hours maximum)
hours of lectures
Personal Study 24 (hours maximum)
22–24 hours studying and revising in your own time each week, including some guided study using handouts, online activities, etc
Small Group Teaching/Personal Tutorial 2 (hours maximum)
hours of tutorials (or later, project supervision) each week
Learning and Teaching
At Queen’s, we aim to deliver a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable students to achieve their full academic potential.
On the joint BA (Hons) in Social Policy and Sociology we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work in a global society, and make use of innovative technologies and a world class library that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners.
Social Policy students at Queen's are taught in a dynamic academic environment by an award-winning teaching staff, in a School that was rated as one of the leading departments in the United Kingdom. The School is located within a recently renovated building, with state of the art teaching and learning facilities, together with dedicated student space including a large student common room. Examples of the opportunities provided for learning on this course are:
- E-Learning technologies
Information associated with lectures and assignments is often communicated via our Canvas Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). A range of e-learning experiences are also embedded in the degree programme through the use of, for example, online discussion forums, research methods modules involving statistics, additional learning resources, online readings, and opportunities to use IT programmes in project- based work.
These introduce foundation information about new topics as a starting point for further self-directed private study/reading. As the module progresses this information becomes more complex.
- Peer Mentoring
We offer a peer mentoring scheme for our BA students, which sees specially- trained second and third year students, under the guidance of staff and the Centre for Educational Development, help first year students settle into life at Queen’s through social events, small group or one-to-one informal support and learning skills workshops.
- Personal Tutor
Undergraduates are allocated a Personal Tutor from their first day at the university. The Personal Tutor is available to meet with them and to give advice throughout their time at Queen’s, in support of their academic development and to act as an important point of contact with the School.
- Self-directed study
This is an essential part of life as a Queen’s student when important private reading, engagement with e-learning resources, reflection on feedback to date and assignment research and preparation work is carried out.
A significant amount of teaching is carried out in small groups (typically 10-20 students). These sessions are designed to explore, in more depth, the information that has been presented in the lectures. This provides students with the opportunity to engage closely with academic staff who have specialist knowledge of the topic, to ask questions of them and to assess their own progress and understanding with the support of their peers. You should also expect to make presentations and other contributions to these groups.
- Study abroad opportunities
Students have the opportunity to spend some time studying in one of our linked universities. For example, this can take the form of a semester’s study in Sweden (Lünd) (for which credits are transferred back to your degree here in Queen’s) or an intensive two week international study school in Spain (Barcelona).
- Supervised research
In final year, you will be expected to carry out a significant piece of research for a voluntary organisation on a topic selected through liaison with the Northern Ireland Science Shop. You will receive support to guide you in terms of how to carry out your research and will be provided with feedback in person and via email.
- Work-Related learning/Field Trips/Study Tours
Study visits and field trips are integrated into several of our option modules. The purpose of these tours are to help students apply their learning to the real-work context and to exercise critical thinking and interpretation. Back in the classroom, students undertake a number of group-based tasks in workshops focused on the field trip and present their findings to classmates.
Details of assessments associated with this course are outlined below:
- The way in which students are assessed will vary according to the learning objectives of each module. Some modules are assessed solely through project work or written assignments. Others are assessed through a combination of coursework and end of semester examinations. Details of how each module is assessed are shown in the Student Handbook which is provided to all students during their first year induction.
As students’ progress through their course at Queen’s they will receive general and specific feedback about their work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, placement supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and peers. University students are expected to engage with reflective practice and to use this approach to improve the quality of their work. Feedback may be provided in a variety of forms including:
- Feedback provided via formal written comments and marks relating to work that you, as an individual or as part of a group, have submitted.
- Face-to-face comment. This may include occasions when you make use of the lecturers’ advertised “office hours” to help you to address a specific query.
- Placement employer comments or references.
- Online or emailed comment
- General comments or question and answer opportunities at the end of a lecture, seminar or tutorial.
- Pre-submission advice regarding the standards you should aim for and common pitfalls to avoid. In some instances, this may be provided in the form of model answers or exemplars which you can review in your own time.
- Feedback and outcomes from practical classes.
- Comment and guidance provided by staff from specialist support services such as Careers, Employability and Skills or the Learning Development Service.
- Once you have reviewed your feedback, you will be encouraged to identify and implement further improvements to the quality of your work.
The School is located in a recently renovated building, with state-of-the-art learning facilities. There is also a dedicated student common room which students can use freely between 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. The common room has seating, basic kitchen facilities and computer access with printing.
- E-Learning technologies
In addition, to the entrance requirements above, it is essential that you read our guidance below on 'How we choose our students' prior to submitting your UCAS application.
Applications are dealt with centrally by the Admissions and Access Service rather than by individual University Schools. Once your on-line form has been processed by UCAS and forwarded to Queen's, an acknowledgement is normally sent within two weeks of its receipt at the University.
Selection is on the basis of the information provided on your UCAS form. Decisions are made on an ongoing basis and will be notified to you via UCAS.
For entry last year, applicants for this degree offering A-Level/ BTEC Level 3 qualifications must have had, or been able to achieve, a minimum of 5 GCSE passes at grade C/4 or better (to include English Language). The Selector will check that any specific entry requirements in terms of GCSE and/or A-level subjects can be fulfilled.
Offers are normally made on the basis of 3 A-levels. Two subjects at A-level plus two at AS would also be considered. The offer for repeat applicants is set in terms of 3 A-levels and may be one grade higher than that asked from first time applicants. Grades may be held from the previous year.
Applicants offering two A-Levels and one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/National Extended Certificate (or equivalent qualification), or one A-Level and a BTEC Diploma/National Diploma (or equivalent qualification) will also be considered. Offers will be made in terms of performance in individual BTEC units rather than the overall BTEC grade(s) awarded. Please note that a maximum of one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/National Extended Certificate (or equivalent) will be counted as part of an applicant’s portfolio of qualifications. The normal GCSE profile will be expected.
Applicants offering other qualifications, such as Higher National Certificates and Diplomas will also be considered.
For applicants offering a HNC, the current requirements are successful completion of the HNC with all credits at Merit grade.
For those offering a Higher National Diploma, to be eligible for an offer, at least half of the units completed in the first year of the HND must be at Merit level and remainder Passes. Applicants must successfully complete the HND with all credits assessed in final year to be at Merit grade. Any consideration would be for stage 1 entry only. Some flexibility may be allowed in terms of GCSE profile.
For applicants offering the Irish Leaving Certificate, please note that performance at Junior Certificate is taken into account and a minimum of 5 passes at Grade C is required.
The information provided in the personal statement section and the academic reference together with predicted grades are noted but, in the case of BA degrees, these are not the final deciding factors in whether or not a conditional offer can be made. However, they may be reconsidered in a tie break situation in August.
A-level General Studies and A-level Critical Thinking would not normally be considered as part of a three A-level offer and, although they may be excluded where an applicant is taking 4 A-level subjects, the grade achieved could be taken into account if necessary in August/September.
Applicants are not normally asked to attend for interview, though there are some exceptions and specific information is provided with the relevant subject areas.
If you are made an offer then you may be invited to a Faculty/School Open Day, which is usually held in the second semester. This will allow you the opportunity to visit the University and to find out more about the degree programme of your choice and the facilities on offer. It also gives you a flavour of the academic and social life at Queen's.
If you cannot find the information you need here, please contact the University Admissions Service (email@example.com), giving full details of your qualifications and educational background.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
An IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each test component or an equivalent acceptable qualification, details of which are available at: http://go.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.
- Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
- Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.
International Students - Foundation and International Year One Programmes
INTO Queen's offers a range of academic and English language programmes to help prepare international students for undergraduate study at Queen's University. You will learn from experienced teachers in a dedicated international study centre on campus, and will have full access to the University's world-class facilities.
These programmes are designed for international students who do not meet the required academic and English language requirements for direct entry.
The INTO progression course suited to this programme is
INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
Social Policy and Sociology graduates are ideally placed for work in a range of occupations, including the civil service, public services, policy analysis, media, research, teaching, business, the voluntary sector, commerce, marketing and management. Some graduates build on the degree by undertaking postgraduate training in fields such as social work, law, social science research and teaching. Tailored careers advice and study guidance is available to all students throughout their time at Queen’s.
Studying for a Social Policy/Sociology degree at Queen’s will assist you in developing the core skills and employment-related experiences that are valued by employers, professional organisations and academic institutions. Graduates from this degree are well regarded by many employers (local, national and international) and over half of all graduate jobs are now open to graduates of any discipline.
The diversity of interests and topics covered in the discipline, plus the wide range of skills it equips you with, means that our students enter a wide range of careers on graduation. These include the public sector (e.g. social services, education, criminal justice, social work), private sector (e.g. market research, policy analysis, human resources), and third sector (e.g. policy analyst, researcher, youth support worker, charity fundraiser). A number of our students also go on to postgraduate study, on a full or part-time basis.
Employment after the Course
Social policy students have gone on to work for Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, the civil service, charities such as the Peter McVerry Trust and Age NI. Many go on to further study in social policy at masters and PhD level.
The following is a list of some of the employers that have attracted graduates from the School in recent years:
Northern Ireland Civil Service
Northern Ireland Housing Executive
National Health Service
Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Commission for Victims and Survivors NI
Belfast City Council
South Eastern Library Board
University of Ulster
Queen’s University Belfast
Additional Awards Gained
Students undertaking project SPY3002 (Policy Briefing) in year 3 will incur travel costs visiting partner organisations, the cost of which will vary depending on location.
Prizes and Awards
Top performing students are regularly awarded prizes/scholarships. In the world-leading Global Undergraduate Awards (2019), a social policy student essay from Questions for an Ageing World was ‘highly commended’.
The highest achieving students are regularly awarded prizes and scholarships, such as the SWAN prizes for best pieces of work on gender, the Lockheed Prize and the Foundation Scholarships.
Degree plus award for extra-curricular skills
In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Degree Plus. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.
Fees and Funding
Northern Ireland (NI) £4,530 England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £9,250 Other (non-UK) EU * £TBC International £17,400
The undergraduate fees for 2021 entry are set out above.
* The tuition fees that EU students starting courses at UK universities following the agreed transition period are required to pay will depend on what is agreed as part of the UK's exit negotiations. Please refer to www.qub.ac.uk/brexit-advice/information-for-students It is however expected that there will be a specific arrangements put in place for RoI nationals living in the UK and Ireland and those with pre-settled and settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Tuition fee rates are calculated based on a student’s tuition fee status and generally increase annually by inflation. How tuition fees are determined is set out in the Student Finance Framework.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.
Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library.
If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. A programme may have up to 6 modules per year, each with a recommended text.
Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.
Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.
If a final year includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.
Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.
There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Social Policy and Sociology costs
Students undertaking project SPY3002 (Policy Briefing) in year 3 will incur travel costs visiting partner organisations, the cost of which will vary depending on location.
How do I fund my study?
There are different tuition fee and student financial support arrangements for students from Northern Ireland, those from England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain), and those from the rest of the European Union.
Information on funding options and financial assistance for undergraduate students is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/Fees-and-scholarships/.
Each year, we offer a range of scholarships and prizes for new students. Information on scholarships available.
Information on scholarships for international students, is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships/.
How and when to Apply
How to Apply
Application for admission to full-time undergraduate and sandwich courses at the University should normally be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full information can be obtained from the UCAS website at: www.ucas.com/students.
When to Apply
UCAS will start processing applications for entry in autumn 2021 from 1 September 2020.
Advisory closing date: 15 January 2021 (18:00). This is the 'equal consideration' deadline for this course.
Applications from UK and EU students after this date are, in practice, considered by Queen’s for entry to this course throughout the remainder of the application cycle (30 June 2021) subject to the availability of places.
Applications from International (non-UK/EU) students are normally considered by Queen’s for entry to this course until 30 June 2021. If you apply for 2021 entry after this deadline, you will automatically be entered into Clearing.
Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as is consistent with having made a careful and considered choice of institutions and courses.
The Institution code name for Queen's is QBELF and the institution code is Q75.
Further information on applying to study at Queen's is available at: www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/How-to-apply/
Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study. Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.
Additional Information for International (non-EU) Students
- Applying through UCAS
Most students make their applications through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) for full-time undergraduate degree programmes at Queen's. The UCAS application deadline for international students is 30 June 2021.
- Applying direct
The Direct Entry Application form is to be used by international applicants who wish to apply directly, and only, to Queen's or who have been asked to provide information in advance of submitting a formal UCAS application. Find out more.
- Applying through agents and partners
The University’s in-country representatives can assist you to submit a UCAS application or a direct application. Please consult the Agent List to find an agent in your country who will help you with your application to Queen’s University.
Fees and Funding
- Applying through UCAS