Why this course?
Social policy is a theoretical and applied subject which draws on many different disciplines - such as history, sociology, anthropology, economics, law, psychology and politics - to improve our understanding of how different societies organise their resources to meet individual and social needs and how they measure progress in these areas.
This new social policy degree programme gives you the opportunity to learn more about the social and economic challenges facing Scottish society and enables you to place these in a broader international and comparative perspective.
It also addresses some of the major questions of our time, such as how should social policy adapt to a changing global, digital, connected and information-rich world? How can we adapt social policies to the needs of a more diverse society? And how should resources be distributed, not only between generations, but also within them?
Following the recent global economic crisis, economics is more important and relevant than ever. Decisions on money, banking, interest rates, taxation and government spending affect us all, with global consequences.
Economics aims to understand the activities of the different agents in the economy – consumers, producers and the government – and how they all fit together.
Our degree will give you the ability to explain complex data in simple terms to different audiences. You’ll also develop excellent mathematical, statistical and problem-solving skills.
Our BA degrees in Humanities & Social Sciences are initially broad-based. In Year 1, you'll study three subjects, including your chosen subject(s).
What you'll study
Our Semester 1 module provides a wide-ranging introduction to some of the key challenges facing Scottish society in areas such as health, housing, education and social security. The Semester 2 module asks how different issues come to be recognised and defined as ‘social problems’. At what point do individual or personal issues come to be defined as social issues, and why?
You'll have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the development of Scottish social policy. You will also discover more about some of the key concepts in Social Policy, including such issues as human needs, social welfare, inequality, poverty, citizenship, and social exclusion. You'll also get the chance to discuss the processes through which policies are made and engage in debates about their effectiveness.
You'll be expected to undertake a more detailed examination of the development of Scottish social policy in a UK context, alongside in-depth studies of the particular social policy areas or themes that interest you. You will also take a class in research methodology which will help you to prepare for your final year dissertation.
You'll take a core module in Comparative Social Policy, alongside the more detailed study of a particular area or theme. Your classes will be based around the specialist research interests of the academic staff and you will be engaging in debates at the cutting edge of current Social Policy thinking. The 10,000-word Honours dissertation will be your chance to undertake some original research of your own in a key area of Social Policy.
All honours students will have the opportunity to complete a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice. The dissertation gives you the opportunity to undertake independent research into an issue which is particularly important to you.
It might be based on a detailed analysis of original sources, such as policy documents or statistical records, or you might choose to generate your own data, using interviews or focus groups. The opportunity to undertake original research into an topic of particular interest means that the dissertation is often the most satisfying part of any student’s degree.
We will be launching two new MSc programmes – an MSc in Social Policy and an MSc in Social Policy (Research Methods) in 2016/17. The ‘general’ programme will be suitable for all those who wish to build on their undergraduate foundations and the Research Methods pathway will have a specific focus on those who wish to undertake postgraduate research or embark on a research career.
What you'll study
You’ll study an Introduction to Economics and take core classes in microeconomics and macroeconomics. You’ll build upon this knowledge in later years.
In your final year, in addition to classes that complement macroeconomics and microeconomics studied in previous years, you’ll also undertake a dissertation.
You'll have opportunities for short-term work placement on the second-year Leadership Development Programme 2 class.
Strathclyde Business School blog
One of the most important resources available to you is being part of the Strathclyde Business School community. One example of this is the Strathclyde Business School Blog, used extensively by staff and students to showcase our activities.
Prizes for best overall performance are awarded to students in all years of study. We also offer a prize for the best final dissertation in economics in the final Honours year of study. All prize recipients will be invited to attend the Graduation Reception for our final year students.
Management Development Programme 1
First Year aims to help you make the transition to the university context. Semester 1 is the Thematic Semester: The World of Business Today and covers topics such as:
- Social-Ethical-Environmental Governance (SEEG)
- Business Ethics
- Disruptive Technologies
Semester 2: Functional Semester: Organisations Today covers topics such as:
- Creativity & Responsibility
- Marketing & Sustainability across Domains
The first year of the programme is centred on the construction of knowledge in classroom setting with theoretical constructs developed. For each topic we’ve recorded a video by a Strathclyde academic who is a leading expert in the field.
You’ll watch these lectures in advance of each session and complete a pre-sessional activity. The pre-sessional work then forms the basis of team based activities work in the classroom (groups of 50 and teams of six-seven) where you develop an agreed understanding of the topic and present this to the group.
The feedback gained from this activity then feeds directly into the assessment for the block. You’ll complete 16 assignments in the two semesters of the class.
Social Policy & Society in Contemporary Scotland
Private Issues & Public Problems
This class is designed to introduce you to some of the major issues confronting Scottish society and to provide an accessible introduction to some of the key concerns of Social Policy. It will examine a range of issues, including questions of poverty and inequality, social divisions, health, housing, education, and criminal justice.
This class examines the different ways in which ‘private issues’ become recognised as ‘public problems’. Using a number of different case studies, such as domestic violence, homelessness or poverty, it will look at the different ways in which social problems have been identified and at the different standpoints from which they can be viewed.
Introduction to Economics
The purpose of this class is to provide you with a balanced introduction to economics which will be at once self-contained and lay the foundation for further study in economics and more generally. The work of the class will be based on a programme of systematic directed reading, supplemented by tutorials, using group projects and in-class short answer tests as cumulative assessment.
Scottish Social Policy since 1845
Key Concepts in Social Welfare
This class explores some of the different ways in which social policy has evolved in Scotland in response to a variety of social problems since the introduction of the Scottish Poor Law Act in 1845. It covers all the main areas of social policy, including health, housing, education and poverty, and also explores the changing boundaries between individuals, families, communities, voluntary organisations, commercial welfare and state over the course of this period.
The Making of Social Policy
This class explores some of the most important concepts in the academic study of Social Policy, including such concepts as equality, justice, need, happiness, poverty and wellbeing. It also examines a number of different ideological perspectives on these issues, such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, social democracy, Marxism, feminism and the New Right.
This class examines the ways in which social policies are ‘made’ at both a national and international level. It examines the roles played by different actors, institutions and ideas. It also looks at the ways in which evidence is used to inform policy-making, and at the ways in which we are all involved, as citizens, in the policy process. These themes are explored with the aid of a series of case-studies, including health and education policies, and the development and implementation of equalities legislation.
This is the core microeconomics class in second year. It aims to develop your understanding of: the concepts of consumer choice; the motives of the firm and profit maximisation; the market and its role in achieving equilibrium prices and quantities; and the implications of market power. It will introduce you to mathematical techniques commonplace in economics, giving you the ability to apply these in a wider economic context.
The class builds upon the macroeconomic foundations established in the first year Economics class and both extends and deepens analysis. In particular this class will develop your ability to use key macroeconomic models and will also provide an introduction to the analysis of economic data.
Management Development Programme 3
The third year of centres on individualised experience in an organisational context through one of the following pathways:
- Internship/Charities - gain practical experience in a private or third sector organisation. You need to negotiate and locate your own organisation and experience – this is one of the key learning points of the pathway.
- Research and consultancy - a facility for local small businesses to gain from the experience and expertise of those within SBS. You work on two live business consultancy projects (one in each semester) and, as a team of 6, develop solutions and strategic initiatives for the local SME economy.
- International experience – only available for students who are undertaking an international exchange for either one semester or full year.
- Vertically Integrated Projects - working on a cross-faculty basis to research longitudinal projects (including the ‘Bill Gates Toilet Challenge, Solar Panels for Gambia and Enterprise in Schools) you work with a team of students from all levels of study (first year undergraduate to final year PhD) to further the work of the project.
In addition, you’re required to undertake a social responsibility element (this accounts for one quarter of the overall workload).
These have been designed to provide support to the Curriculum for Excellence and the Widening Access to Higher Education programme. There are no formal classes for MDP3 although there is pathway support with the pathway leads and tutor support.
Research Skills in Social Policy
Scottish Social Welfare in a UK Context
This class will help you to develop your knowledge and understanding of some of the key methods used by researchers in the field of social policy. It will introduce you to a number of different qualitative and quantitative methods, and to some of the basic principles of research design. It will provide an essential foundation for your final-year dissertation.
This class examines the ways in which recent political developments have placed questions of social policy at the heart of debates over the future of the United Kingdom. To what extent do the different parts of the UK face different social problems? To what extent do different parts of the UK possess a different approach to the resolution of these issues? How has the governance of social policy in different parts of the UK been affected by its current constitutional arrangements?
Adam Smith's hidden hand - markets result in efficient outcomes - doesn't always work. We seek to understand why through the study of market power, externalities and public goods, and then go on to apply these ideas to issues of education, healthcare provision and crime and punishment.
This class builds on the Macroeconomics you studied in second year by covering four topics in detail: (i) models of economic growth; (ii) the effects of macroeconomic policy in an open economy; (iii) the interrelationships between money growth, output, unemployment and inflation; and (iv) the implications of high government debt.
The Welfare State in Comparative Perspective
This class examines the development of welfare states as a global phenomenon. It asks what we mean by the concept of a ‘welfare state’ and looks at the ways in which welfare states have developed in different countries. It also explores some of the major differences between different types of welfare state, using the concept of ‘welfare régimes’.
Many students find that the dissertation is the most fulfilling part of their degree. It will provide you with the opportunity to undertake your own in-depth investigation into a topic of your choice, and to develop skills as an independent researcher.
The dissertation is an important part of the fourth year programme. Single Honours Economics BA students are required to submit a dissertation in Economics while Joint Honours BA students may submit a dissertation in Economics or in their other Honours subject.
Elective classesMicroeconomics 4
Game Theory and Information Economics, the topics of this class, consider market failure resulting from two different sources: individuals pursuing their own self-interest at the expense of others; and information asymmetry which alters the way agents behave. Methods to alleviate these market failures will also be considered.
This class aims to provide you with the required tools to understand current macroeconomic issues, such as the interactions between the banking sector and monetary policy or the policy responses to the global financial crisis. Throughout the class, the analytical usefulness of the theoretical models taught is illustrated with real-world examples.
Introduction to Econometrics
This class builds upon the empirical content of Macroeconomics 2 and further develops your ability to analyse economic data. In addition, this class lays the foundations for further study of econometrics at Honours level.
Economics of Firms & Industries
This class introduces you to different industry structures and studies the behaviour of firms within those structures. The material builds on the study of the theory of the firm presented in Microeconomics 2 and provides a foundation for the study of industrial organisation at Honours level.
This course investigates the actions that firms in an industry might take to preserve their profit in that industry, and the implications that this has for competition policy and regulation. We take an analytical approach to the issues which will be supported by examining case studies and current events.
Financial Development & Economic Growth
In the third year econometrics class you’ll have learned about regression in both a cross-sectional data and time series data context. This class extends that knowledge in three ways.
First, for cross-sectional data, the class deals with regression techniques where the dependent variable may be restricted or limited in some way. In such cases, the regression model as taught in the third year class is not appropriate; this class develops models which are similar in spirit to the standard regression model, but can handle all of these cases.
A second purpose of Applied Econometrics is to develop regression methods which can be used when you have panel data - consisting of both cross-sectional and time-series dimensions.
Third, the class will build on the introduction to the econometrics of time series data developed in this class by developing two classes of models.
This class gives a balanced view of the role of finance in promoting long-run economic growth, but also booms and busts. The nature and role of financial intermediaries will be introduced, and, afterwards, formally addressed in a simple aggregate growth model. Empirical evidence will be examined, before turning to the specifics of micro-finance. The importance of financial globalisation will also be investigated. Finally, the rest of the class will be devoted to deciphering the causes and consequences of the current financial crisis.
Natural Resource, Environmental & Energy Economics
Behavioural Economics offers alternative theories that merge psychological insights with economic theory and are based on experimental and other evidence, that attempt to provide a better explanation of real-world behaviour.
This class is concerned with exploring these new behavioural theories with the aim of providing you with an expanded toolkit with which to approach ‘real-world Economics’ that is based on the burgeoning Behavioural Economics literature that has emerged over the past two or three decades.
After studying this, you should be able to extend much of your previously-learned knowledge in Microeconomics in various directions that take into account more realistic ways of modelling how individuals behave.
The class provides you with an introduction to natural resource, environmental and energy economics and policy. It focuses on the contributions of economics to understanding environmental, energy and resource problems, their causes, and the design of effective public policies to counteract them.
You'll be assessed using a variety of methods, including not only traditional essays and exams, but also oral presentations, group work and other forms of assessment.
The majority of classes involve a final unseen exam which is normally at the end of the semester. This is usually supplemented by individual and/or group coursework.
In some cases, you can get exemption from the final exam if you achieve a specific mark for your coursework (and satisfy attendance requirements). You’ll normally have one opportunity to be re-assessed for a failed class. For exams, this usually takes place during the summer.
Assessment methods are varied and include class tests, essays, practical reports, dissertations, individual presentations, group presentations and degree exams.
Individual classes often use more than one form of assessment.
Learning & teaching
Teaching is over two semesters in blocks of 12 weeks. Classes are taught through lectures, tutorials and seminars, alongside team-based projects, online materials, practical labs, online wikis, problem-based learning and interactive sessions using personal response systems.
External contributors from partnership corporate organisations are involved in teaching and/or assessment of student presentations.
Throughout the degree programme, there will be guest lectures from industry and our international partners.
The innovative and highly acclaimed Management Development Programme (MDP) is at the core of our undergraduate degrees in the Business School and comprises a series of classes which you take throughout Years 1 to 3.
You develop knowledge and skills in key areas of management, and team-working, communication and decision-making skills, all of which are highly sought-after by employers.
Major employers and alumni from all sectors are involved in the MDP, participating in group sessions, observing student presentations, and providing feedback. Organisations involved include Barclays, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble and Ernst & Young. In first year the best teams are selected to present to senior staff in one of the sponsoring organisations, and there are prizes for the best projects.
The programme builds your confidence and entrepreneurial capabilities, and promotes awareness of globalisation and ethical issues in personal and business decision-making. In Year 3, you develop your own pathway from internships, involvement with business projects, engagement in interdisciplinary activities and business clinics.
Required subjects are indicated following minimum accepted grades.
1st sitting: AAAA
2nd sitting: AAAAB
- Higher English plus at least one subject from the list below
- National 5 Maths or National 5 Lifeskills Maths or Intermediate 2 at Grade C or above
- Classical Studies
- Modern Studies
- Religious Moral & Philosophical Studies
Year 1 entry:
Minimum entry requirement: BBB (GCSE English Language B or English Literature B, GCSE Maths C)
Typical entry requirement: ABB (GCSE English Language B or English Literature B, GCSE Maths C)
Year 2 entry:
Minimum entry requirement: ABB (two core subjects at AB)
Typical entry requirement: AAA (two core subjects required)
36 (Maths SL5)
A in Graded Unit; Maths National 5 C/ Intermediate 2 C
Irish Leaving Certificate
Subjects and grades as for Highers
Deferred entry not accepted.
Admission to Honours
All students will be admitted as potential Honours students. Students may exit with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the end of year three of the Honours programme if they have accumulated at least 360 credits and satisfied the appropriate specialisation requirements. For admission to the final year of the Honours course, a student must have qualified for the award of the Bachelor of Arts degree and achieved an approved standard of performance.
Find out entry requirements for your country.
Degree preparation course
We offer international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the entry requirements for an undergraduate degree at Strathclyde the option of completing pre-undergraduate programmes at the International Study Centre. To find out more about these courses and opportunities on offer visit isc.strath.ac.uk or call today on +44 (0) 1273 339333 and discuss your education future.
You can also complete the online application form, or to ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers today.
We want to increase opportunities for people from every background. Strathclyde selects our students based on merit, potential and the ability to benefit from the education we offer. We look for more than just your grades. We consider the circumstances of your education and will make lower offers to certain applicants as a result.
Find out if you can benefit from this type of offer.