Skip to main content

School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study


Programme structure for joint Honours degree programmes

Joint degrees available in Social Policy include Social Policy & Law, Social Policy & Politics, Social Policy & Social & Economic HistorySocial Policy & Sociology, Social Policy & Economics and Social Policy with Quantitative Methods.

Social Policy can also be combined with French, German, Geography, Italian, Law, Russian Studies, Scandinavian Studies, Social Anthropology or Spanish.

Your degree will contain compulsory courses from each part of your joint degree with some outside options also available in Years 1 and 2. Outside options might either be courses linked to your joint subject choices or be based on your own aims and interests. Students usually take 120 credits each year.

Sample joint programme structure

Year 1

Everyone will take the following core courses

    Social Policy and Society (20 credits)
    Politics of the Welfare State (20 credits)
    Fundamentals: Social Policy

Through these courses you'll develop an in-depth understanding of contemporary social issues and problems by looking at how social policy issues are constructed and contested. You'll explore the three main areas of debate in social policy: needs, rights and responsibilities, with a focus on the needs of children and the responsibilities of parents. In the second semester, you'll consider the aims of welfare, the history of the welfare state in Britain, the policy process and you'll look comparatively at different models of welfare states around the world. Together, we'll examine changing welfare agendas in employment and social security and health. We'll focus on who pays for welfare, who provides it and who benefits from it. The Fundamentals course will equip students with a variety of general and subject-specific skills that will be relevant to their degree while helping build a personal portfolio of transferable competences.

Year 2

In the second year you'll study the following core courses

    European Social Policy (20 credits)
    Evidence, Politics and Policy (20 credits)
    Fundamentals 2: Social Policy

Through these courses you'll explore the role of social policy in the European Union and examine the emergence of European welfare states from a critical perspective, studying the models used to classify them, and the general challenges they now face. The aim of of the Evidence, Politics and Policy course is to show how social research can shed light on topical social and political debates and to reflect critically on the cross-disciplinary evidence basis of public policy decisions.

Fundamentals 2 builds upon Fundamentals 1 and complements the two compulsory second-year courses in Social Policy.

Year 3

During third year, you will study Analytical Perspectives in Social Policy (20 credits). You will also select a number of optional courses in line with your joint degree programme. The Social Policy courses include a diverse and extensive list covering areas such as children's rights, employment policy, family policy, criminal justice and health policy. You will take 120 credits in total.

Year 4

You will continue to take Social Policy courses and will complete an individual research project. This will involve collecting data and information from sources such as the Scottish Government, local authorities and voluntary organisations. You will take 120 credits in total.


Edinburgh Students