Sociology and Social Policy

BA (Hons)


1st in Scotland and 6th in the UK for Social Policy

The Guardian University Guide, 2018

2nd in Scotland and top 15 in the UK for Sociology

The Guardian University Guide, 2018

Do you want to understand and learn how to analyse the way in which society works? Do you want to build and develop your ability to critically engage with of the purposes, processes and outcomes of social welfare, both here and abroad?

This course’s international and comparative approach offers topics that analyse society and welfare issues in various countries. We have particular expertise covering Scotland, the UK, the EU, Western and Central Europe, Australasia, North America and Latin America. Our course and modules the latest developments in social research, taught by recognised experts in their chosen fields, who raise real-world issues in a critical, informed and engaging manner.

The first two years of our degree structure are flexible, allowing students to experiment with new subjects. You can apply to spend Semester 6 at another university in Europe, Australia, Canada or the USA.

Key information

EU Applicants
The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2018 and 2019 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU Students will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree.

  • UCAS: L431
  • Qualification: BA (Hons)
  • Study methods: Campus based, Full-time
  • Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences
Download course leaflet
Download undergraduate prospectus

Dr Niall Hamilton Smith, Course Director

View fees and finance

What makes us different?

Why study Sociology and Social Policy at Stirling?

Our expertise

Our modules are taught by acknowledged experts in their various academic fields and teaching is closely informed by the latest developments in social research.

Study abroad opportunities

You will have an opportunity to spend a semester at another university in Europe, the USA, Canada or Australia. 


The Stirling degree structure is very flexible in the first two years allowing you experiment with new subjects. 

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

Learn more

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Life at Stirling

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
ABBB - one sitting.
AABB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points.

BTEC (Level 3):

Three-year degree

SQA Adv Higher:
ABB - one sitting.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
35 points.

Essential subjects:
To include Sociology.

Other qualifications

Year one entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.
Advanced entry
Year 2 and Year 3 entry may be possible with an HNC/D in Social Science. Please consult our Advanced Entry pages for more information.

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.
Foundation Apprenticeships:

Considered to be equivalent to 1 Higher at Grade B

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply.
Mathematics Standard Grade (3), National 5 (C), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C) or equivalent required.
Students with no Mathematics may be considered although alternative entry conditions may be applied.

If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

INTO University of Stirling offers an International Foundation programme for those international students who do not meet the required academic and English-language criteria. This course offers a route to study at University of Stirling through an excellent teaching and learning experience located in the high-quality study facilities on campus. Successful completion of the International Foundation in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences to the required standard provides guaranteed progression to this degree.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

More information on our English language requirements

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Fees and costs

Fees 2018/19

Overseas students (non-EU) £12,140.00
Scottish and EU students £1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £9250 – with a generous package of scholarship options

From 2016/17 onwards, the fees for overseas undergraduates will be held at the level upon entry.

If you plan to commence your studies at the University of Stirling in January 2018, please note you will be subject to our 2017/18 fees. Please contact us for more information.

Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government. Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

Students take Sociology plus two other subjects in Year 1.

Semesters 1 - 3

Students take core modules in:

  • Social Differentiation: explores gender, age, ethnicity, class and disability in relation to the ways in which individuals and groups are valued and treated in different societies
  • Social Problems: contemporary social issues and policy responses
  • Understanding Social Policy: historical and theoretical perspectives on welfare; comparative social policy analysis

Semesters 4 - 8

You must take core advanced modules in:

  • The Development of Social Theory
  • The Research Process: Introduction to methods of social research and analysis, including practical and project work

Optional modules currently include:

  • Ageing, Society and Social Policy
  • Contemporary Social Issues in Practice
  • Co-operation and Society
  • Disability and Society
  • Drugs, Crime and Society
  • Gender, Work and Welfare
  • Health and Society
  • Housing Policy
  • Poverty, Income and Wealth
  • Race and Ethnicity Social Stratification
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Social Stratification
  • Sociology of Childhood
  • Sociology of Development
  • Sociology of Youth
  • Urban Society
  • Work, Class and Society

Final-year Honours students are also required to undertake a dissertation and Honours seminar.

Delivery and assessment

Teaching for each course in Sociology and/or Social Policy usually consists of two lectures plus one workshop per week. Assessment in each course is normally based on a combination of coursework and examinations, for example, one essay (30 percent) and an examination (70 percent). The final-year dissertation counts for two modules and provides an opportunity to put research methods studied into practice while focusing on an area of particular interest.

Combined degrees

CourseUCAS Code
Sociology (three-year degree) L300
Social Policy (three-year degree) L400
Sociology and Social Policy L431


Combined Honours Degrees

Social Policy can be studied with:
CourseUCAS Code
Politics LL24

Sociology can be studied with:
CourseUCAS Code
Criminology LM39
Film & Media LP33
History LV31
Politics LL23
Psychology CL83
Religion LV36
Spanish LR34

(For a Combined Honours degree the higher entrance requirements of the subjects usually apply.)

Learn more about studying these subjects

Related degrees

Criminology and Social Policy; Criminology and Sociology; Social Work. 

Recommended reading

  • Marsh, I. et al. (2009) Sociology: Making Sense of Society, Harlow: Pearson, 4th edition
  • McIntosh, I and Punch, S, 2005, Get Set for Sociology, Edinburgh University Press.
  • McIntosh, I, 1997, Classical Sociological Theory: A Reader, Edinburgh University Press
  • Ridge, T and Wright, S (eds), 2008, Understanding Inequality, Poverty and Wealth: Policies and Prospects, The Policy Press, Bristol

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).
January entry also available - see semester dates

Find out more

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.



1 (Autumn)

Social differentiation


Any two optional modules from across the University

1 (Spring)

Social problems


Any two optional modules from across the University

2 (Autumn)

Understanding social policy


Two optional modules from combined degree course

2 (Spring)

The Development of Social Theory


Two optional modules from combined degree course

3 (Autumn)

Research Process 1


Two optional modules from combined degree course

3 (Spring)

Research Process 2


Two optional modules from combined degree course

4 (Autumn)

One optional module from combined degree course

4 (Spring)

One optional module from combined degree course

4 (Autumn/Spring)

Dissertation Honours seminar (Sociology and Social Policy combined degree students only)

Why Stirling?


1st in Scotland and 6th in the UK for Social Policy (The Guardian University Guide, 2018)

2nd in Scotland and top 15 in the UK for Sociology (The Guardian University Guide, 2018)


International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes applications from all countries.

Study abroad opportunities

You can spend a semester (usually Semester 6) at another university in Europe, USA, Canada or Australia.


Our modules are taught by acknowledged experts in their various academic fields and teaching is closely informed by the latest developments in social research. This ensures that our teaching engages with real-world issues in a critical, informed and engaging manner.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Stirling Sociology and Social Policy graduates have a higher-than-average (in the UK) employment rate in degree relevant careers. Our graduates work in the private, public and voluntary sectors. There are some careers where a sociology degree is a requirement, for example working as a sociological researcher or a lecturer or teacher of sociology. However there are many more opportunities where the knowledge and understanding students acquire in studying sociology is highly valued, for example work in local government, for the police or prison service, social work, work in the voluntary sector, or in human resources.

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