My advice to any new social policy student is as follows:
1) Throw yourself into your studies as much as you can by engaging with the content each week, and reading more widely where you can. This will help you identify topics which you are the most interested in (and maybe even passionate about!). In addition to enhancing your enjoyment of everything that the vast, multifaceted world of Social Policy has to offer, it will allow you to get ahead for future modules and, eventually, your dissertation, by allowing you to better shape your academic focus by choosing to write about the issues which are most important to you.
2) Reference as you go! This is a little trick that has served me well. When reading a chapter/book/article that you think could be useful for a particular assignment, write down the reference. Soon, you will develop a comprehensive bank of sources, which you can divide per module. Not only will this save you lots of time when it comes to writing your assignments, but it is good to keep well practiced in referencing properly. If you’re not familiar with referencing, don’t worry! I advise checking out Salford’s referencing guide. It’s a great resource that I always referred to when writing assignments.
3) Draw on your own experiences where you can. I found that relating topics to my own experiences, where relevant, helped me to better engage with them, and I encourage you to do the same. For example, if you have worked in a health and social care role, applying your own experience may help you to strongly appreciate the impact of reforms to social care.
4) Ask for help when you need it. The Social Policy team at Salford are not only experts and accomplished academics, but they also thrive on the success of their students. I know that it can sometimes be hard to admit when you don’t understand something, but no one expects you to know everything. This is your learning experience, so please know that you only have to ask your tutor for assistance, and they will be delighted to help you.