What do you come out with? BSc from London School of Economics, Brunel, or Ulster; BA from Brighton, Kent or York.
Why do it? Because you are a latter-day Emmeline Pankhurst wanting to reform the world. Or because you're involved in some aspect of public service and want to enhance your career prospects. Many aiming for a social-work qualification take social policy first. Or because you want to understand what lies behind the newspaper headlines.
What's it about? It's at the heart of the issues governments use to get votes. Social policy affects people's lives, so it incorporates taxes, poverty, social security, housing, health, education, crime, and welfare. It looks at social needs/problems and how society responds. The LSE course incorporates economics, psychology, demography and sociology, as applied to social policy. At Ulster, comp-arisons with other parts of Europe are made; and the impact of globalisation on welfare provision is covered at Brunel. York compares the UK with Europe, but also East Asia. Kent looks at the ageing population, the rationing of health care, and the social politics of food.
How long is a degree? Three years, longer if part-time; four in Scotland. Brunel runs a four-year sandwich course in politics and social policy, and placements are with a campaigning voluntary body, local advice centres, or policy units in local authorities, for example.
What are the students like? A high proportion of them are mature students. More women than men.
How is it packaged? Courses are modular at Brighton, Brunel, Kent, Ulster and York, but at LSE it is course units. Courses are a mix of assessment with varying proportions of exams, except York, which does not use formal unseen exams.
How cool is it? Not. The "social" tag puts people off.
What A-levels do you need? Most departments are flexible. Many require evidence of numeracy. Some say politics, sociology, economics and history are useful.
What grades? For LSE, BBB; Brunel or York, BCC; Kent, 22 points; Ulster, CCC; Brighton, 14 points.
Will it keep you off the dole? No guarantee, but many options. Brunel's sandwich students do exceptionally well. Political lobbying for the voluntary sector is growing. Public-sector roles include health-care management, the civil service, or …