Hi, I’m Rachel, an international student from China. I study BA in Social Policy, and am in my final year now. I really enjoy learning social policy, and will further explore it in my postgraduate course.
In my blog, I will talk about my experience of studying social policy in York. Specifically, I will talk about the course structures in different years, such as how many core/optional modules I take each year. Then I will share how 1st Year influences the rest of the course. Moreover, I’ll also talk about the challenges I met from an international student perspective.
I have four modules in my 1st and 2nd Years, and five modules (including Dissertation as a module) in my 3rd Year. For the 1st and 2nd Year, nearly most modules are core modules, but in the final year, I have more flexibility in choosing modules.
In my 1st Year, I do not have optional modules.
Compared with very in-depth content, more broad topics are covered in the 1st year modules. For example, in the Introducing Social Policy module, topics include the emergence of the welfare state, social security, housing policy, education policy, health policy, employment, etc. This extensive study gave me a more comprehensive understanding of social policy, and allowed me to explore the topics I’m interested in.
During my study, I found housing policy very interesting. I had the opportunity to learn more about it as I chose housing policy as a topic in my assessment.
In 2nd Year, Social Research Methods was a core module, which was also a core module for all students in other cohorts. This module helped me learn quantitative and qualitative research methods and better practice those skills through various assignments (this is very useful for the Dissertation!).
In addition, in the Policy Process Module, I learned how policies are made, and the challenges involved in the process. I really enjoyed this module. It is interactive. In the Recreating Government Workshop, for example, we acted as MPs, making policies for different departments and cooperating or competing with each other. By ‘participating’ in policymaking, I further grasp the esoteric theories.
And this module has stimulated my interest in comparative social policy. As an international student, learning about UK policy was challenging for me because I did not know about UK policy, the national context or the basic daily routine in the UK. The cultural differences and language added to the difficulties. However, my department and lectures provided me with adequate support. For example, in seminars, I can further discuss issues with my classmates under the guidance of the lecturer. My lecturers also provide drop-in hours, which is a great opportunity for one-to-one discussions!
My lecturers are very patient and friendly. They answered my questions in detail, guided me to think critically, and encouraged me to explore my areas of interest. With the help of my department and lecturers, I gradually overcame these difficulties and realised that as an international student, I could learn about social policy from a different perspective. (This is a challenge, but can also be an advantage!) Specifically, through a comparative approach, I could compare the policies of different countries, their outcomes, and the factors behind them.
For me, 2nd Year was very busy but very fulfilling. I am happy that I have gained a better understanding of social policy through the different modules!
In my 3rd Year, I have four optional modules in addition to the Dissertation. This means I can choose modules according to my interests.
As mentioned above, I am very interested in housing policy and comparative social policy. Therefore, I chose the Housing Policy module and the Wellbeing of Children and Young People module. In the housing policy module, I studied different housing-related topics weekly. This gave me an overview of the housing system and issues. This module also includes a field trip, which is really exciting! In the Wellbeing of Children and Young People module, I use UNICEF and other data to analyse the wellbeing of children in different countries, and compare the UK with other countries.
Although the different modules had different themes/focuses, they were closely linked. We were encouraged to use what we learned from the different modules. The 1st- and 2nd-Year modules gave me a comprehensive understanding of social policy, and allowed me to better identify areas of interest. In the 3rd Year, the modules provided a deeper understanding of what I had learned in the previous two years. The experience of studying Social Policy at York is excellent!