BSc Social Policy Single and Joint Honours

The BSc (Hons) programme in Social Policy is ranked number one in The Guardian's 2014 University league table, and has been consistently at number one since 2007.

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Social Policy is the academic study of how societies identify, conceptualise and respond to 'need', and promote, or not, the welfare and 'wellbeing' of their members. This is a rigorous and critical but exciting and relevant subject, drawing on disciplines such as sociology, politics, economics and history to look at some of the burning questions of the day.

See What is Social Policy? and watch our film above for more information, or why not try our quiz?

Course titles

All the programmes are designed to introduce you to the interdisciplinary study of Social Policy, and to develop your skills and knowledge through the three years. As you move through the programme you are given the chance to make more choices each year, and can construct your choice of specialisms within the range offered. The first year, therefore, includes units covering historical and theoretical perspectives, and introducing comparative and international themes and concepts. The second year develops those conceptual frameworks and allows you to follow up your own interests in your choice of units. The third year includes the opportunity for you to design and carry out your own investigation for your dissertation, and to explore more optional areas.

  • BSc (Hons) Social Policy

    3 years, full time or 6 years, part time (UCAS code: L400)
  • BSc (Hons) Social Policy with Management

    3 years, full time (UCAS code: LN42) NEW FOR 2015
  • BSc (Hons) Social Policy with Quantitative Research Methods

    3 years, full time (UCAS code: L402) NEW FOR 2015
  • BSc (Joint Hons) Social Policy and Politics

    3 years, full time (UCAS code: LL42)
  • BSc (Joint Hons) Social Policy and Sociology

    3 years, full time (UCAS code: LL43)
  • MSci Social Policy and Quantitative Research Methods

    4 years, full time (UCAS code: L403) NEW FOR 2015
Hong Kong skyline

Social Policy Study Abroad Programme

The School for Policy Studies runs an exchange scheme with the Department of Public and Social Administration at City University of Hong Kong. We encourage students who are interested to spend a semester studying abroad to earn credit points. In each academic year, up to six semester-long places are available. Students will be selected on the basis of academic merit and suitability. The schemes are only available to second year social policy students. Therefore, planning has to be done during your first year at Bristol.

When it comes to choosing a career, Social Policy students will often have the best of both worlds: the degree can be 'vocational' if you so wish; but it is also a 'non-vocational' degree, if you want to compete for the range of vacancies that still require a graduate with no specification as to subject.

There is a wide range of jobs for graduates in Social Policy - some 40% of graduate jobs are open to those of any degree discipline. Many use the knowledge and skills acquired through their degree to enter the health and social care sector and gain employment, either as practitioners, researchers, policy-makers, or managers in the areas of social work, criminal justice, health, education, housing, urban renewal, and poverty and social inclusion.

Alternatively, some Social Policy graduates use their knowledge to gain entry into professions such as journalism and politics, while others are equally well-placed to enter jobs unrelated to their degree discipline such as advertising, accountancy, market research, public relations, recruitment and administration.

Here's a selection of what some of our alumni have gone on to do:

  Yasmin Greenfield-Metin

One of the things that I was asked when I had my job interview was about Bristol and what I liked not only about the university but also the city. The department feels more like a family than an institution and I still keep in contact with some of my lecturers today. Now I organise high profile events for diplomats and a range of projects (such as conferences, seminars and lectures) on an international level, but mainly in London and Istanbul. I am also heading a national competition due to launch in September. My job involves working closely with ambassadors, CEOs and ministers. My competition asks the public ways in which they believe Britain can be improved.
Yasmin Greenfield-Metin BSc (Hons) Social Policy, 2011

Matt Newman

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bristol, and would highly recommend it to anyone considering studying there. After leaving Bristol I went on to study a Masters in Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford. I felt able to take full advantage of this further study thanks to my grounding in the fundamental concepts, arguments and theories I’d gained. Most recently, I’ve started a role as a consultant in a professional services firm. Despite working in the private sector, my background in Social Policy is highly relevant, as I specialise in working on projects for public sector clients.
Matt Newman BSc (Hons) Social Policy, 2008

Laura Bennett

Studying social policy has equipped me with a great understanding of the needs of a whole range of social groups across society. The passion and diversity of the lecturers at Bristol meant it was always interesting and developed my own passion for the subject. Since graduating, I got a place as a trainee manager on the NHS Graduate Scheme and have been working to deliver the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in my local region. I work with a whole range of people from different backgrounds, with different needs. My degree has given me an excellent basis for understanding the needs of patients and the local population.

Laura Bennett BSc (Hons) Social Policy, 2010

Sophie Kendall

I loved my time at the School of Policy Studies. The best thing was how approachable everybody was – I always felt as though those who taught us were genuinely interested in our work and our futures, and this made for brilliant academic and pastoral supervision. The course structure provided a broad overview as well as plenty of options units to match everyone’s interests. I am now hoping to do something to do with research and policy development in the future. I will next year be back in England for a while to do a Masters in Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford.

Sophie Kendall BSc (Hons) Social Policy, 2011

Emily Coelho

Studying Social Policy at Bristol was a great experience, with excellent tutors and a wide range of topics to choose from. Since graduating I have taken up a number of project management roles in Local Government, focusing on new ways to deliver public services. The fact that my degree was very relevant and gave me a range of skills helped me secure my job, as well as the reputation of Bristol as a top university.

Emily Coelho, BSc (Hons) Social Policy, 2011

Applications for all of our programmes must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). The UCAS code name and number for the University of Bristol is BRISL B78. Information about the application process can be found on the UCAS website.

When to apply

You can submit an application to UCAS from September of the year before you want to begin your studies. UK and EU applicants should submit their applications before the UCAS closing date of 15 January.  International students should apply before 30 June.

Entry requirements

The School welcomes applications from well-qualified students from all backgrounds. We particularly welcome applications from groups currently under-represented in UK higher education.

Social Policy Undergraduate Admissions Statement

To view the School's admissions statement please visit the following link:

Social Policy Undergraduate Admissions Statement

UCAS codes


If you have any questions in relation to the admissions procedure, please contact Central Admissions at:

Undergraduate School for Policy Studies visit days are designed for applicants to come and find out how our School works and what it would be like to study with us.

Applicants who are made an offer will be invited to the visit day.

The programme of the day includes:

  • a trip to the halls of residence
  • presentations by academic staff about the programmes
  • lunch and a chance to meet current students and
  • a presentation by current students.

We hope that visiting us will provide an insight into every aspect of student life here at the School for Policy Studies. The day is designed to help you find out what Bristol is like and to give you plenty of opportunity to talk to students, staff and the Social Policy admissions team, and ask questions.

Visit day dates

The 2015 Visit Days dates will be announced shortly (and are likely to be in March 2015)

University Open Days

Why not come to a University Open Day? The School of Policy Studies is open during these days with a full programme of guided tours, displays and talks. If you are visiting at other times you can download a self-guided walking tour app or mp3 to help you find your way around the university precinct.

Please note that although it is sometimes possible to show individual prospective students around the School, such visits must be arranged in advance, giving as much notice as possible. Please email Helen Bush for more information.

If you have any further questions about the programme that haven't been answered in these pages, please contact Helen Bush:, +44 (0)117 954 6745. If your query is admissions related, please contact Central Admissions: