What even is Social Policy?

A question thrown around a lot during Freshers’ week is “What do you study?”. It’s a nice, easy question to initiate a conversation as you get to know more people. Or that was what I thought, until my response of ‘Social Policy’ often received rather confused looks! Indeed, when asked to expand upon my chosen subject and clarify what it actually entailed, I struggled to find a way to sum it up succinctly in a few short sentences! I still don’t quite know how to answer it even now, so instead I will steal a quote from the University’s Social Policy and Social Work webpage:

“A BA in Social Policy will enable you to understand the causes of social problems and how societies attempt to solve them, both nationally and internationally. You’ll receive a thorough grounding in core social sciences, including sociology, social psychology, politics and economics and use what you learn to explore why making successful policies is so complex, why patterns of inequality persist and what more can be done to address social problems.”

Eager readers
Eager readers

Prior to receiving my offer from York, the process of deciding what to study at university for the next three years of my life was long-winded to say the least. I had considered a variety of subjects, namely Psychology, Law, and then Criminology, before (when I became aware such a course existed) settling on Social Policy. I remember being concerned that opting to take a brand new subject at degree level was a little risky (what if I didn’t enjoy it?! What if it wasn’t quite what I thought it was?!). However, I have found that Social Policy at York – being such a broad discipline – not only draws on all my previous areas of study (English Language, Mathematics with Statistics, Law and Psychology), but also enables you to explore your own particular areas of interest.

One thing I would emphasise is that you should try not to worry about ‘committing’ and signing away the next three years of your life. The SPSW Department is very accommodating and the courses are flexible. In first year the modules were identical across the majority of the Social Policy and Applied Social Science courses, meaning if you decide you’d like to change pathway you normally can. The whole Department is extremely friendly and welcoming. You can drop by and chat to lecturers during their open hours if you have anything you want to confirm, ask, or just chat about.

When not in timetabled lectures, you will be expected to undertake preparation in advance of your seminars (more like an informal open, group discussion rather than being spoken at and taking notes in a formal lecture). This preparation will usually include some set independent reading and, as a result, I have become a fairly regular user of the library facilities. I have to admit I was already a library fan prior to attending York, however I am sure the smattering of snack and coffee machines, the café, the comfy sofas and the bean bags are enough to convert anyone!work course

One of the things that particularly drew my attention to the Social Policy course at York was the lack of exams! Throughout the first and second year, assessments are predominantly completed through the submission of essays. That said, you may also experience reports, portfolios and assessed presentations (not quite as daunting as they sound, I promise!)

One thing for sure, time really has flown by. I can’t quite believe I am now over halfway through studying my Social Policy degree?! They do say that time flies when you’re having fun!

I will once again leave you with a couple of links to some short you tube clips that will hopefully give you a little more insight into what it is like here:

Studying Social Policy at York

And more general video for those of you considering York, Undergraduate study at York

Published by



Hey! My name is Hazel and I am in my second year studying Social Policy at York. For the past two years I have been a part of the Criminology and Criminal Justice Society (Crimsoc) and a member of Constantine College. If you have any questions or queries please don't hesitate to get in touch!