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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study


Social Policy

Our students either study Social Policy as a joint honours degree with another discipline or take our interdisciplinary programme Government, Policy and Society, with courses from our own subject area and specialisations from a variety of backgrounds. Our teaching is applied and aims to give students an understanding of the content of important policies and their impact on society as well as the process of policy making and the practice of government. We have a real-life approach to studying political processes and discuss contemporary political debates.

At the core of our teaching is cutting edge research and training our students in high quality research methods to enable them to perform their own analyses in their studies and beyond. This begins in years 1 & 2 with our Fundamentals courses and continues in year 3 with specialised methods options. This allows us to confront our students from the beginning with real-world research papers, policy reports and practical case studies rather than relying on text book-based teaching. Our instructors bring their own research and policy experience into the classroom from the first year of study. 

Students writing their dissertation in our subject area often conduct their own original research over a one-year period, collecting their own data from the private or third sector, working with local or other levels of government or engaging with the experiences of underrepresented communities. The application-oriented approach in our teaching is often adopted by our students whose dissertation projects are written to inform actual debates or policies.       

Our expertise spans Scotland, the UK, the European Union, and international government as well as the linkages between these levels. Learning about the workings of government and the development of policy in the capital of a powerful sub-state is a highly enriching experience. The University is on the doorstep of one of the most powerful sub-national governments and parliaments in the world and is deeply embedded in a very open and vibrant public policy community.

We use a wide range of assessments for our courses to develop a broad set of skills that will be useful to you in many areas of work after graduation. These include classic formats such as essays and exams, as well as innovative assignment types, such as policy briefs and policy blogging.

Both Social Policy and Government, Policy and Society can also be taken as a degree with Quantitative Methods as part of our Q-Step centre allowing students to develop an advanced level of ability in using survey methods and quantitative techniques. For details, please visit the website of our Q-Step centre:

We have more information about the programme structure and content for you specifically for the Joint Honours Social Policy programmes and Government, Policy and Society.

Social Policy