Hi, I’m Kavil! Today, I’m going to try to answer some questions that I know I had before starting my Criminal Justice and Social Policy degree. Although Google is a great tool, there are some things that can only be answered by actually doing the degree. Fortunately for you, I’m here to answer these questions for you!
What is social policy? How is it studied in 1st Year?
So… let’s start with the basics.
Social policy is policy that’s created by the government that aims to improve society and life for its citizens. I thought this would be a simple concept, but as I discovered in my first year, it’s not.
Social policy influences many things like housing, education and employment, to name just a few. We studied each of these factors (and more) in the Introducing Social Policy module. Initially, we focused on the ‘who, what, when and why’ of these policies, which I didn’t find too difficult.
When it came to writing social policy essays, however, I had to start thinking critically about the strengths and limitations of policies. I had to consider current issues with policies, whether they are effective, and how they can be improved. This was hard, but I found that doing some wider reading and tapping into the analytical side of my brain made things easier.
I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t always enjoy the social policy module, and thought that some of the topics were a little dry. But most of it was interesting, especially because all the policies affect or will affect us at some point in our lives.
This module was mainly assessed by coursework (essays), but in the Spring/Summer Term, we had to do one examination.
How is criminal justice studied in the first year?
Now that we’ve covered social policy, we can move onto criminal justice, the second part of the course…
In our first year, criminal justice was split into two modules: Introducing Criminal Justice and Crime and Society.
‘Introducing Criminal Justice’ focused on aspects of the criminal justice system such as the definition of crime, criminal law, sentencing, and the history of punishment. I found the prison service topic particularly interesting, as we learned about it from the perspective of prisoners, too.
On the other hand, ‘Crime and Society’ focused on specific crimes, such as drug crime, terrorism and violent crime. We also covered the different theories that try to explain and understand why individuals commit crime.
I loved studying a lot of the topics in these modules, which made it easier to do the required reading and write my essays. I think it’s fair to say that these were more up my alley than the ‘Introducing Social Policy’ module mentioned previously.
That year, both of these modules were assessed by coursework – no exams to be found for me!
Is there anything else studied in 1st Year?
I’ve covered three of the modules that I studied in my first year, but there were four in total. ‘Politics and Economics of Social Policy’ was the last piece of the jigsaw. As the name suggests, it’s related to social policy, but it was a module that I wasn’t expecting to study.
The politics part, which I studied in the Autumn Term, focused on several areas, including:
- constitutions and the separation of powers
- electoral systems and party politics
- parliamentary process.
Of course, politics are crucial in the process and creation of social policies by the government/parliament, so I began to see how they link. I initially struggled with this module, but after watching videos on YouTube and reading some textbooks from the library, I grasped an understanding.
The economics part focused on markets, like as the labour market. But it also looked at:
- market failure
- the economics of healthcare
- government debt
It’s important to note that the economics part did not include any mathematics or require any mathematics knowledge (I thought this at first, but was pleased to know that it didn’t).
This module, although sometimes tricky, was interesting because of the impact that it has on social policy, and how/where the government directs its finance.
Both modules were assessed through coursework for me.
How does your first year influence your second year?
I’ve just discussed the modules that I studied in my first year, which massively underpin what you study in your second year…
I’m taking three compulsory modules in my second year:
But, I got to pick what I took for my fourth module from a few options. What you choose is meant to be guided by the broad foundation of content you covered in 1st Year. So, in that vein, because I enjoyed the economics part of ‘Politics and Economics of Social Policy’, I chose a module called ‘Capitalism and the Public Good’.
The topics that I studied in 1st Year gave me the basics to build my learning on in 2nd Year.
What’s the assessment like?
In my experience, the course is mostly assessed through coursework, but you can visit the course page for more info. You can try to tailor your assessments to you with your optional module. So, as I prefer coursework to exams, I made sure that the optional module I chose in 2nd Year was assessed by coursework.
What careers can I undertake with a Criminal Justice and Social Policy degree?
Due to the topics studied in this degree being so vast, it really opens up the career paths that are available. But what career path you take will depend on where your strengths and interests lie. Here are a few ideas for you:
- The civil service
- A social researcher
- Government work
- Prison and probation work
- Court service
- The police
- Solicitor or barrister (through a law conversion course)
There are many others too, of course!
There’ll most likely be modules that you don’t enjoy (as I experienced), but they contribute to your wider learning. However, the modules that you do enjoy can be expanded upon in your later years. Plus, you can join related societies to be with like-minded individuals who share the same passion as yourself.
I find that Criminal Justice and Social Policy is a degree that requires an inquisitive mind. It’s a comprehensive degree that encourages you to formulate your own perspective. Although this can be difficult at times, studying social policy and criminal justice can allow you to truly make a difference in our society with the career that you take up in the future.
(A note that any aspect of all modules/topics mentioned may change on a yearly basis, so please contact a member of staff for further information.)
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