Where can a degree in Social Policy take you?
Our BSc (Hons) Social Policy course covers a broad range of topics that will enable you to understand the causes of social problems and how societies attempt to solve them.
Take today’s headlines - food banks, homelessness, the ‘crisis’ in the NHS, unaffordable housing. We see these terms in the news, but what do they actually mean?
Social policy explores these societal problems, and more, but where can a degree in it take you?
Hear below from recent Social Policy graduates about their experience and where their degree has taken them.
The University is in the Guardian University Guide top 20 for Social Policy (2021).
Find out more information here.
Megan Rowlands-Mckie - Social Worker
"The best thing in my opinion about the Social Policy course is the placement opportunity that you can do in third year."
I initially applied to Salford to do social work because this was my dream career. By the time I got round to applying, it was too late and all the positions had been filled. I was devastated, and then I got a call from the admissions team to offer me a place on the BSc Social Policy course. The details of the course sounded interesting, and it wasn’t something that I had previously thought about. But I thought I would give it a go. Looking back now, doing social policy was the right idea, it allowed me to think about other career options as well as social work, and it didn’t mean I was stuck to one path.
I graduated in July 2018 with a First Class Honours and was then accepted on to the Frontline graduate scheme for child protection social work. The process for this was rigorous, but the modules covered in the social policy degree such as the families module helped me get through this. The social policy course enabled me to gain understanding in to real life issues that social work focuses on. The Frontline programme is two years long, I’m seven months into practice now, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. I’m working alongside children and families and even share a caseload. I’ll be a qualified social worker in September and will then complete my masters. This wouldn’t have been possible for me without the experiences I gained from the BSc Social Policy course, or the immense support that was available from the lecturers.
The best thing in my opinion about the Social Policy course is the placement opportunity that you can do in third year. I completed a placement with a domestic abuse service. Once the placement is completed, you write a report on what you found during the placement, and how policy plays out in practice. It was really interesting being able to write about something that I had experienced myself, and it was also great to put on my CV.
My biggest piece of advice would be to make use of the lecturers. The social policy lecturers are an amazing source of support, and that support can be if you’re struggling with academic work, or even if you’re struggling with personal problems. I often wonder what my university experience would have been like if I didn’t have the support of a few key people. Reading and learning outside of the classroom is also invaluable for a successful academic life - do a bit of reading, listen to the news, watch documentaries about real-life issues. All of this will help you in the course.
Matthew Torbitt - Government Caseworker
"I would genuinely get excited for university which was surprising for a lad that only left school with a “class clown” award."
The three years I spent doing the BSc Social Policy degree at Salford were honestly some of the best years of my 28 years on the planet. The lecturers engaged you with the subject and encouraged contribution (something I would try to do as much as possible having a big mouth and a position to put forward.) I would genuinely get excited for university which was surprising for a lad that only left school with a “class clown” award. Along the way I stood as an Independent candidate for the election of 2015.
I graduated in 2017 summer with a First Class Honours and have worked in politics ever since. A life in politics was something I have wanted to pursue for some time and the BSc Social Policy degree set me up perfectly for it. The course covers austerity, housing and homelessness, welfare reform – how and why we got where we are. You get to grips with the role of parliament, civil society, MPs and thinktanks to explore their place in influencing and at times, undoing policy. The course enables you to explore and understand the most pressing issues facing us today.
After graduation, my first political role was working as a Caseworker and Constituency Assistant for the Member of Parliament for Peterborough. No two days were the same. I went from having my parliamentary account set up to holding face to face consultations with victims of historic child sex abuse, to supporting people who had been sanctioned under the Universal Credit scheme. I then moved into a similar role for Preet Kaur Gill MP, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston and Shadow Minister for International Development. I’ve become more heavily involved in dealing with constituent issues head on with Preet - from bin strikes to pot holes, to deportations and hearing from public sector whistleblowers.
Being a caseworker is rewarding and as much as MP’s are the mouthpiece, the team in the office do serious graft. We take organisations to task by having the weight of an MP behind us, whether that is local housing authorities, Cabinet Ministers, social services or The Home Office, we leave no stone unturned. I am still learning each day as there is always something ready to surprise you.
Working in politics at any level can be frustrating but I wouldn’t change it. If you have a vision and you want to put it into action I would always encourage you to get involved, don’t sit on the sidelines! Politics can only benefit from those bold enough to promote daring, radical and ambitious ideas. The BSc Social Policy degree was an essential foundation for my current role – it will take you to wherever you want to be and the support is there in abundance from lecturers that really know what they are talking about and that genuinely care about what they are doing. Place your trust in them.
Artiana Blaize - HR Professional
"As an international student, I was also really impressed with the way staff on the programme were happy to talk me through my options and reassure me about life as an undergraduate in Manchester and Salford."
I’m a born and raised British Virgin Islander where the weather doesn’t drop lower than 25°. Moving 4,072 miles away from home was not the easiest transition. Coming to Manchester was a big step for me and part of a journey to discovering who I am and where I want to be in the next decade.
Even though I was offered several places at different universities, I chose the BSc Social Policy at the University of Salford because of great recommendations from my peers. I was also really impressed with the way staff on the programme were happy to talk me through my options and reassure me about life as an undergraduate in Manchester and Salford. This built a solid foundation for my new-found, cross-continent relationship. I chose Social Policy personally because I was becoming more and more interested on what happened behind the scenes of policy making and its impact on many diverse groups.
Reflecting back, I can see my own personal progression across the three years of my undergraduate degree. I was always a quiet one- quietly in, quietly out. However, the lecturers always engage with the students, get them involved (which often evolved into great debates)! One thing I will forever advise other students is to never be afraid to communicate with your lecturer if you want clarification or just a chat on a question or lecture or topic area. They are always there. Literally.
I graduated in 2018 with a First Class Honours and have continued at Salford with a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management and Development. This course has helped me become more open to the world - from talking to and learning from others, to really building my confidence that ‘I can do anything once I apply myself and do the work.’ – willpower!
I hope to use my knowledge from Social Policy degree to help improve organisational management processes and governance within the Public Sector and to ensure we develop and adopt policies to meet the needs of a global, changing and more diverse society.
Abigail Rubens - Keyworker
"I love studying at Salford, the students are a real mix of age and cultures meaning that lectures are full of knowledge and experience. I never felt like the ‘oldie’!"
I graduated, very proudly at age 46, with first class honours Social Policy in July 2018 and I am currently coming to the end of the first year of a part time master’s degree in Social Policy, also at the University of Salford. Clearly I love Social Policy!
Since graduating, I work 3 days a week as a keyworker at The Prevention Alliance drop in hub in Stockport. It is an alliance of different charities funded by Stockport council. My day to day role is varied, challenging and never the same! We support people in the long and short term who may have housing issues, debt, mental health challenges and benefit problems such as Universal Credit. We take referrals from doctors, police, social workers and crisis teams at the local hospital. I feel like it’s everything I learned in the social policy degree translated into grass roots real life with real people in real situations. I can see how policies developed from the top - that we learn and talk about in lectures - can really affect lives, often in a very detrimental way.
Prior to my degree I was a teaching assistant and brought up 3 children. I love studying at Salford, the students are a real mix of age and cultures meaning that lectures are full of knowledge and experience. I never felt like the ‘oldie’! The library is great and I get there whenever I can. Lecturers always give support and guided me through my studies. All in all, I am proud to tell people what I study and where I study it!
Mike McKeown - Housing Specialist
"You’re not alone on this journey, the lecturers are possibly the most passionate and caring people I have met. I would honestly say that the only reason I managed to get a First-Class Honours degree was because every time I needed support, reassurance or just a one to one sit down they were there for me."
I applied late for the BSc Social Policy course and luckily got in, having only just met the criteria. Being the first in my family to go to University, I was anxious about even starting on a degree course, but I knew deep down I had to at least give it a go! I remember the thumping of my heart knowing I had been accepted and just feeling proud to have even been given the chance. Looking back, I was very low on self-confidence and had no faith in my abilities, all I had was hope and an ambition to give back to society. That ambition was why I chose to study BSc Social Policy at The University of Salford. The course covers such a wide range of topics, a few of my favourites were Precarity and Insecure Lives, Ideologies and Housing. The housing module really engaged me – after analysing homelessness and the policies around it I decided to focus my dissertation on the topic. Here, I looked at why homeless has increased by 165% since 2012 and how can we fix this.
I genuinely loved every minute studying on the course. The lectures were lively, inclusive and thought-provoking. I had ups and downs but the journey you go on is life-changing, the process certainly made me a better person. You’re not alone on this journey either, the lecturers are possibly the most passionate and caring people I have met. I would honestly say that the only reason I managed to get a First-Class Honours degree was because every time I needed support, reassurance or just a one to one sit down they were there for me. This brought the best out of me. Now I can safely say I know exactly what my abilities are and have faith in them. The course is designed in a way to improve your social skills, ability to debate with an open-mind and write in a way that is essential for breaking down complex information and highlighting key points. All of this has been essential in my life as a graduate.
Graduating was my proudest moment and not because I had a degree but because I felt like I had the ability make a real difference. Three weeks after graduating I found a job in the area that most interested me - I now work in homeless prevention as a housing specialist. My role allows me to go out and find people at risk of homelessness, identify their issues and then design a plan to prevent this. I work with social workers, mental health nurses, housing associations and private landlords. I connect the dots, negotiate and work out solutions to problems. There are no two days the same, and I get to use everything I have learnt during the course to give back and benefit those who need it most. I manage my own caseloads and also oversee staff while advising them on actions to take. This is a privilege I have gained from taking what I thought was a ‘risk’ and going to study Social Policy. The ‘risk’ paid off, I get to fight for people’s rights and help them stay off the streets while also pushing for policy change to ensure the future is brighter for everyone in our society and no individual is left without shelter. If you’re considering making a real difference this course will provide you with the tools you need, go for it!
My final tip is to make use of the free membership with the Charted Institution of Housing which comes with the course. I am now a Certified Practitioner of the CIH which is an industry-standard for housing and it looks great on a CV, another perk of the Social Policy BSc course.
Charlene Haynes - Master's Student
During my third year I was lucky enough to be able to do a community placement with a large international NGO that fights modern slavery around the globe, Hope for Justice. This project was one of the most exciting things I was able to work on during my time at the University of Salford. My personal tutors and the staff on the Social Policy team were incredible in helping me navigate the project and ensuring I was able to make the most of the experience. I was able to work on several projects at Hope for Justice, including a scoping project contracted by the Home Office.
I was very excited when I first received my acceptance letter to the University of Salford to study Social Policy. I moved from Nebraska to Salford with no idea what life in the UK would be like. While moving across the world was a rather scary experience, Salford quickly became my home. It was exciting to be figuring out how to live in a different country all while studying.
One of the things that I loved most about the course was how incredible the staff was on the Social Policy team at Salford. From the first week I walked in, I was welcomed and supported not only as a student but as an international student who knew no one in the country. I always felt welcome to ask any question no matter how small or big. The team is incredible and I can not stress just how important it is to talk to them.
During my third year, I was lucky enough to be able to do a community placement with a large international NGO that fights modern slavery around the globe, Hope for Justice. This project was one of the most exciting things I was able to work on during my time at the University of Salford. My personal tutors and the staff on the Social Policy team were incredible in helping me navigate the project and ensuring I was able to make the most of the experience. I was able to work on several projects at Hope for Justice, including a scoping project contracted by the Home Office.
I chose to study Social Policy in the hopes it would advance me further into a career fighting modern slavery. I graduated in 2020 with a First Class Honours BSc in Social Policy. I have learned so much from the course regarding support services, social justice, and policy and practice in not just the UK but on a global scale. I know that the knowledge I’ve gained from the course will help me as I continue my education and go on to study a Masters in Contemporary Slavery Studies and Critical Victimology.
Vikki Downs - Social Researcher
This time last year I would not have dreamt I’d be where I am and doing what I’m doing and I truly attribute that to the degree. The Social Policy degree is bigger than the knowledge you learn and skills you develop, and even more than the analysis of relevant and pressing social issues – like Covid-19. It is also about what you learn about yourself. It’s about building confidence, trying out ideas, gaining experience. The doors the degree has opened to me are what has brought me to where I am and enabled me to live comfortably in good paid work while I figure out my next move.
My journey to the Social Policy degree was an unexpected one. I had been studying at Salford University on the Child Health nursing programme, which I loved. Unfortunately, due to a road traffic accident, I was forced to make the decision to withdraw from the programme on the grounds of ill-health. Suddenly I found myself not really knowing what path to go down from there. Initially I considered social work, but during the application process I was made aware of the Social Policy BSc. Although I had never heard of ‘social policy’ as a field of study, every bit of the content was matched to my interests.
The degree really challenged who I thought I was and quickly gave me a confidence I did not know I had. Whilst studying, I held the student representative role for the degree and later became a school representative. The opportunities these roles gave me were invaluable. I was involved in a TV clip for the media department, invited to university events and operational meetings, and I even sat on interview panels for potential new lecturers.
The BSc Social Policy gave me confidence and a sense of being really ‘awake’ to the world.
Following graduation in 2019, I gained a research job with the National Centre for Social Research. It is a non-profit social research organisation that conducts research on behalf of the government.
Most recently I have been on the frontline of data gathering about Covid-19. Initially, I was involved in a project which informed decision-making on the release of lockdown. This really brought to home how important it is to understand community need and behaviour in the battle against COVID-19. Now, I am registered as a key worker and involved in one of the largest projects looking at the prevalence and spread of Covid-19 in communities. Each week, I test hundreds of people for COVID-19. I feel very proud and very privileged to be a part of what this study has already achieved and what it is set to achieve in the coming months/years. I’m really enjoying being part of the frontline task force against COVID. Its really gratifying to see how through the collection of data, the project is helping to support the effort to manage the virus and tackle the issues it exacerbates.
Prior to the covid-19 projects I also worked on:
/ The English Housing Survey - for The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
/ The Family Resources Survey – for the Department for Work and Pensions.
/ The Travel Survey – for the Department for Transport.
/ The Health survey for England – for the Department of Health and Social care.
When working as a field researcher, each project is different, and the tasks involved vary. Ultimately its all about getting as much information as possible to meet government need - so fieldworkers must be multitaskers and possess a wide range of skills. I’m now involved in training up our new starters.
This time last year I would not have dreamt I’d be where I am and doing what I’m doing and I truly attribute that to the degree. The Social Policy degree is bigger than the knowledge you learn and skills you develop, and even more than the analysis of relevant and pressing social issues – like Covid-19. It is also about what you learn about yourself. It’s about building confidence, trying out ideas, gaining experience. The doors the degree has opened to me are what has brought me to where I am and enabled me to live comfortably in good paid work while I figure out my next move. With my work experience and the degree, I’ve decided to apply for a number of graduate schemes. I am extremely excited to see what the future holds with my degree firmly taking me to places I never thought I’d go. I owe my sincere thanks and lifelong gratitude to the social policy team for always believing in me, even when I didn’t, because without that I wouldn’t be who or where I am today.
Sophie Glynn - Adult Day Service Manager
My confidence and self-esteem improved tremendously. The guidance and support I received on the programme and through the mentoring scheme was invaluable and is something I still talk about now. The gains in my academic skills were considerable and I can only thank the lecturers and my mentor for this.
My experience as a student at Salford University started in 2016. My route in to the BSc in Social Policy was not traditional – I sat an entrance exam. This was because I had a lot of hands on experience relevant for the programme but lacked formal qualifications in the right fields. It as a relatively painless experience and the staff on the course were so supportive. I had many conversations with the lecturers and previous students about the course and of the possibilities this could take me after graduation. This simply made me more determined to gain a place on the course.
Fast forward a year, I was finding my feet with the subjects and learning what areas of policy interested me the most. In the second year I found my passion for research methods and how to use literature in a way to gain better evaluations of policy in practice and how changes and amendments can impact on communities. This has been really useful in my subsequent work roles.
My dissertation work was influenced by my volunteering experience through the Industry Mentoring Scheme. This scheme is on offer to all BSc Social Policy Students and is a great way to gain some ‘realworld’ experience. I was mentored by Chief Inspector Henthorne from Greater Manchester Police. I met with my mentor once a month to gain careers advice, craft a CV, and importantly to shadow his work – including spending some time at Pendleton police custody. 6 months in and I was speaking to a room full of students and other industry mentors showcasing how the scheme benefitted me. Three years ago, this would have been something I would have avoided! Not long afterwards, I won the University-wide, ‘Mentee of the Year’ award. I received significant recognition for this award and believe this elevated my profile to potential employers after graduation.
In May 2019, as I approached graduation, I was employed as an operations administrator for Mitie Care & Custody. I was now working on the front line and conversing with various police departments, courts within Greater Manchester, working alongside detainees, and managing confidential information. This role was a temporary six-month contract. I was enjoying the role, but it wasn’t going to last forever, and I found myself reflecting back on my achievements. I bit the bullet and decided to open my own business.
I am now a very proud adult day service manager for Manchester and Trafford. I manage a team of support staff, deliver training and manage all the business administration including finances and operational duties. I have used the knowledge gained from Social Policy and am able to unpin policies to drive my business forward. I am able to support vulnerable families with social support and be the voice they don’t have.
Covid-19 has of course impacted my work and the adults I support. We have placed a real priority on supporting mental health and being a real resource for the local community. This led to us being awarded a grant of £2,000 by Irwell Valley Homes housing association for our community work. We’ve also been entered into a competitive process to secure £50,000 for the organisation. This came about because a charity that supports social entrepreneurs heard about the business and wanted to help us grow. We are currently in talks about securing a new building specifically for the benefit of vulnerable adults in the Sale West area.
Although this role is different to my earlier work in custody and the police, the experience and skills I gained during the degree helped me in the transition. My confidence and self-esteem improved tremendously. The guidance and support I received on the programme and through the mentoring scheme was invaluable and is something I still talk about now. The gains in my academic skills were considerable and I can only thank the lecturers and my mentor for this.
The course produces brilliant researchers, and it also produces organised, driven, and creative practitioners. For any new students that are thinking of taking Social Policy BSc, I say go for it – there’s so much to gain.