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Why Study Social Sciences?


Put simply, to study Social Science means to study society and human behaviour. When you study Social Science at university, you’ll come across challenging questions about the world we live in today. You’ll explore the answers through research, observation, evidence, and analysis.

As with any science, there’s more than one way to look at something and the study of Social Sciences requires you to discover and listen to differing experiences, viewpoints, and challenges. A core goal of this sort of study is to better understand how we make improvements to our societies and communities as well as the role of the individual.

Social Science courses tend to take elements of lots of different subjects and provide an interdisciplinary approach to learning.


What are Social Sciences?

Social Science is a label for a broad range of disciplines including Sociology, Criminology, Policing and Politics. It can also stretch to cover subjects like Anthropology, Economics and Psychology. Different Social Sciences offer different perspectives on human behaviour. But there are commonalities. A strong focus on research and objective interpretation is key to any Social Sciences course. 



Studying Sociology

You might choose to study Sociology, this subject focuses on social expectations and norms, social structures and relationships, the impact that social factors can have on society and how this could affect our future. When you study Sociology at university, you’ll cover a diverse range of topics. Everything from religion, the family, and the state through to race, gender, and social class. Sociology courses develop research methods and analytical skills to help deepen your understanding of the world and the people you share it with.  

Studying Criminology 

When you study Criminology, you’ll be exploring questions like Who decides what is a crime? Why do people commit crime? What sort of crimes are there? What should the consequences be for those who commit crimes? What can society do to prevent crime? Criminology courses aim to help you craft answers to these questions through research, evaluation, and analysis. 

Studying Professional Policing

The study of Professional Policing at university is usually an option for those who wish to enter into a career in law enforcement. Professional Policing courses equip you with the essential knowledge, skills and professional approaches that are required in modern policing. Beyond that though the study of Professional Policing at University allows you to develop a deeper and more critical understanding of the discipline. Professional Policing courses help you apply research evidence, science, and analysis to policing and law enforcement. You’ll learn about and develop new approaches to established and emerging law enforcement activity. 

Studying Politics

The study of Politics at University means directing focus to how society interacts with governments, policies, and power. Politics courses will draw from impactful historical events to help develop your understanding of why things happened, how they were resolved and what can be done to provide better solutions or resolve future challenges. Politics courses include a lot of debate and discussion, gathering lots of detail and context and learning how to think critically to inform your own beliefs and theories.

Ready to explore Social Sciences courses at Northumbria University?

What are the course options to study Social Sciences?

As a general rule, Social Science courses are shaped by particular disciplines. You can find out more about the different levels of study below.

Undergraduate Social Science Study

At undergraduate level you’ll likely encounter Social Science courses similar to the following:

  • BA Sociology
  • BSc Politics
  • BSc Economics
  • BA Politics
  • BSc Social policy
  • BA Social work
  • BA Anthropology

Social Science courses commonly appear as part of combination degrees with lots of single, joint, and multiple subject combinations available.  

Qualifications for undergraduate Social Science courses can either be BA or BSc. The difference often comes from how much focus the course has on theory or research methodologies.


Foundation Social Science Study

Foundation degrees and HNC/HND qualifications are available in Social Sciences. These often take the shape of a broad Social Sciences degree, covering lots of different elements form various disciplines. Or you may find foundation degrees focussing on specific knowledge related to your chosen field.


Postgraduate Social Science Study

  • At postgraduate level, you’ll find that course options can allow even deeper focus on one aspect of the field.   

    Often, Masters degrees in Social Sciences reflect the unique research interest of the degree. Examples of specialised Masters degrees in Social Science include:

  • Criminology, Communities and Disorder MSc
  • International Relations, Conflict and Security MA
  • Disability Studies MA
  • Politics and Economics of the Middle East MA
  • Climate Futures: Science, Society and Politics MSc
Police Leadership, Strategy and Organisation MSc     

There are also Masters degrees in Social Science available which offer more broad labelling, titles include:

  • MA Politics
  • MSc Criminology
  • MSc Policing
  • MA Sociology    

Usually, broadly named Masters degrees in Social Science will still allow you to specialise in an area of your choosing, though you should check the programme information for more detail.

As with undergraduate degrees, the qualifications you receive when you study a Masters degree in Social Sciences depend on the level of research-related training you receive as part of the degree.     Masters degrees in Social Sciences can provide you with the skills you need to get into a career of your choosing. But they could also give you the skills to complete further study and research. If you’re hoping to go on to further study in form of a PhD, you may wish to consider a Masters degree in Social Sciences that lead to an MRes qualification. MRes Masters degrees in Social Sciences offer even more research skills development. 


What qualifications and subjects do you need to study Social Sciences? 


If you complete a foundation degree in Social Science, you will usually qualify to progress onto a specialist Social Science course.  

To study social sciences at undergraduate level it’s likely you’ll need 120 UCAS Tariff points from a combination of acceptable Level 3 qualifications which may include: A-level, T Level, BTEC Diplomas/Extended Diplomas, Scottish and Irish Highers, Access to HE Diplomas, or the International Baccalaureate.  

Usually, for most social sciences courses there are no particular subjects required. Applicants will need to share an interest in and motivation for the subject. A-level subjects like Sociology, Law, Economics, Politics and Psychology could be beneficial.  

If you have a qualification from outside of the UK or have equivalent qualifications please check the guidelines and requirements for your chosen course.  


Usually, to study for a Masters in Social Science degree you’ll need a strong undergraduate degree in a relevant field. That might be an undergraduate degree in Politics, Criminology, Politics, Sociology or Policing. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, there is often room to move between Social Science subjects at Masters level. For example, from a BA in Sociology to an MA in Criminology. Usually, you’d need to demonstrate an interest and motivation for your subject move.  

If you have a qualification from outside of the UK or have equivalent qualifications please check the guidelines and requirements for your chosen course. 


Why study Social Sciences? 

Imagining the future 

One of the great things about Social Science courses is that they help you to think critically about the past to inform the future. Through analysing observations, experiences and research social scientists can make predictions, recommendations, and interventions to help decide how we shape our society in the future.  

Whatever your chosen field, social sciences are about looking forward. Your knowledge and skills could determine the future of crime management, the future of politics, policing, or society as we know it.  

Impact people's lives 

Social Science as a discipline impacts people every day in so many different ways. Social Science can impact transformative aspects of society. As a social science graduate, you could go on to impact politics and government, equality, diversity, policy, socioeconomic growth, media and technologies, and global and national health.  

Gain multidisciplinary skills 

When you study Social Sciences you’ll experience endless crossovers, collaborations, synergies, and opportunities for deeper understanding. By studying across many different disciplines your skills will become more developed, and holistic and you’ll experience different ways of working, communicating, and researching.  

Not only does this lead to more thorough findings and conclusions, but it also opens avenues for discovery that might not have existed without multidisciplinary connections. In turn, this means more career opportunities, better communication skills and broader networks.  

police with shield

Centre for Crime and Policing

Placements and study abroad  

Completing a placement or studying abroad as part of your degree in any subject can help develop hands-on experience and skills that will serve you and your future career. It can broaden your networks, deliver opportunities, and open doors for your future. When you study a Social Science there are more reasons to consider placements and study abroad opportunities.  

Whether you study Sociology, Criminology, Policing, Politics, or another Social Science at University you’re going to be exploring society in some way. When you study abroad you expose yourself to different societies and cultures. When you insert yourself into a different culture with an open mind you learn different perspectives, encounter different traditions, meet different types of people, and learn about different governments and ways of life. This sort of experience is invaluable for developing your critical thinking skills, communication skills and research skills.  

Studying a placement when you study Social Science can really help solidify the skills and knowledge you’ve developed and help to apply these skills to the world of work. Depending on your area of interest you might want to look for placements in local and national governments, education, criminal justice, charity, media, or technology.  


What skills will I gain with my Social Sciences degree?  

When you study a Social Sciences course, you’ll develop skills that are valued highly by employers across a number of different fields.  

As well as the subject knowledge you’ll gain you’ll also be equipped with skills like: 

  • Research  
  • Analytics  
  • Communication 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Leadership 
  • Cross-cultural understanding  

These functional skills mean that after you graduate there’s a lot you can do with your Social Sciences Degree.  


What jobs can I do with a Social Sciences degree? 

Because of the diversity in skills and knowledge that you develop when you study Social Sciences at university, there are lots of careers available to you in many different sectors.  

Popular graduate destinations for Social Science graduates

  • Politics
  • Public administration
  • Defence Health and social care
  • Charity Law
  • Local and central government
  • Media
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Police and probation services
  • Education
  • Research organisations
  • Prison and probation services
  • Court services



Why choose Northumbria University for Social Sciences? 

By studying a course within the Department of Social Sciences you will be joining a community of enquiring minds who are experts in their fields. Our aim is to understand and explain the social and political world, how relationships and alliances are formed and communicated and how inequalities are justified and challenged. Our students are supported to become decision makers and game changers who shape the world of the future. 

The Department offers courses at undergraduate and postgraduate taught level in subjects related to Criminology, International Relations, and Politics. Sociology, International Development and Professional Policing. 

Ready to explore social sciences at Northumbria University?  

Facilities and Industry Networks 

At Northumbria you’ll have access to all the facilities you might need to optimise your learning. This includes study spaces. Libraries, online learning resources and dedicated careers support. Lectures and seminars draw upon technology to provide an interactive, dynamic experience that extends beyond the traditional study environment. The Department of Social Sciences at Northumbria has specially designed courtroom, Digital Security Labs, Computer Network Technology Labs, and crime scene house that can be used to develop practical skills relating to your degree.  

Further to this, the Department of Social Sciences at Northumbria University prioritise putting you in touch with professional partners to get the best access to career-launching experience and industry facilities. Northumbria connects with organisations like Northumbria Police, COCO, International Federation of Red Cross, and Red Crescent Societies (Geneva), Swedish Red Cross, Voluntary Service Overseas, CISV International, YOT (The Youth Offending Team) and The British Council. Alongside active research these partnerships ensure the curriculum at Northumbria stays future proof. Connections like this can inform placement opportunities, work experience and research placements and give you the edge on your CV.  

Discover more of the facilities and industry networks at Northumbria.  

Career focussed 

Northumbria University designs Social Sciences courses with your future in mind. Because teaching at Northumbria is so heavily linked to active research, they evolve their degree programmes in line with the sector. An emphasis on developing transferable skills alongside strong connections with industry mean you have everything you need to pursue the future you want.  

Northumbria Graduates go on to work in the public and not-for-profit sectors including central government, the police, the prison system, community safety, education, the criminal justice system, research, local and national government and third sector. 

Social Sciences graduates go on to careers in criminal justice and social work settings; a number of students secured these roles where they were on placement during their degree. Others go on to have varied careers in teaching, research, local and national government and third sector employment. Some decide to continue in education. 

When you study Professional Policing at Northumbria University you’ll graduate with the knowledge and practical skills you need to join the Police, there’s opportunity to gain experience that will open up careers in the criminal justice system too.  

Find out more about careers support at Northumbria or check out alumni profiles from Sociology and Criminology graduates at Northumbria.  


Social Sciences at Northumbria boast a strong reputation across for both teaching and research.  

Northumbria is in the Top 40 UK universities for Sociology, ranked 11th in the UK for Criminology and in the Top 50 UK universities for Politics according to The Guardian University Guide 2022. 

The Complete University Guide 2023 ranks Northumbria in the Top 40 UK universities for Sociology, Politics and Criminology.  

Research Excellence 

At Northumbria, Social Sciences research covers multiple disciplines. Areas of research include International Development, Crime and Policing, Insecurity, Violence and Harm, Gender, Power, Culture and Identities and International Relations, Global Development Futures and Integrated Health and Social Care.  

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (2021) work from the Social Sciences Department contributed to high rankings and awards including:  

  • 3rd in the UK for research power in the UK out of 76 submissions 
  • 83% of Social Work and Social Policy’s impact is deemed very considerable (3*) or outstanding (4*)  
  • 78% of our research activity is classed as internationally excellent (3*) and world-leading (4*) 

Learn more about the world-changing research that drives Social Sciences at Northumbria University. 


Please Note 

All content is accurate as of the time of writing, the information in this guide is subject to change and will be updated as required to reflect this. 

12 courses found

Criminology BSc (Hons)

Undergraduate | Newcastle | 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

If you’re interested in the causes of crime and victimisation, and the ways in which societies respond to it, this course is for you.

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Social Science Foundation Year

Undergraduate | Newcastle | 1 year full-time followed by a further 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Prepare for degree level study in a social science subject with this course that covers areas of sociology, politics, and criminology.

Click for more course information

Sociology BSc (Hons)

Undergraduate | Newcastle | 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Develop a global understanding of society, dynamics and modern life and prepare for employment in a range of fields on this course.

Click for more course information

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