There are a diverse ranges of subjects included within social studies, as it also includes economics and politics, alongside courses that lead to professional qualification in social work.
Relevant to

What is social science and where can it take you?

What is social science and where can it take you? | Sheffield Methods Institute
Academics and former students provide informative and entertaining answers to the big questions around social sciences. Video provided by Nuffield Foundation Q-Step programme and Sheffield Methods Institute.

Studying Economics as an Undergraduate

Studying economics as an undergraduate | University of Bath
Professor John Sessions and students Joan Green, Mohammad Lone, and Ludi Wang talk about the undergraduate economics courses. Video provided by the University of Bath.

What is social science? An animated overview

What is social science? An animated overview | ESRC
A short animation explaining social sciences and how they cover the full span of human behaviour. Video provided by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC).
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Key stats

159,670 students were studying this subject in 2014/15.

  • 86% UK
  • 14% international
  • 85% full-time
  • 15% part-time
74.3% of graduates went directly into employment.

Top five graduate destinations:

  1. Public administration and defence
  2. Health and social work
  3. Education
  4. Wholesale and retail trade
  5. Professional, scientific, and technical

What courses are available?

Universities and colleges in the UK are offering courses in the following subject areas:

Subject combinations and available course options include:

  • single, joint, and multiple subject combinations
  • full-time, part-time, and flexible study options as well as courses with a placement (sandwich courses)
  • qualifications ranging from BA and BSc, (Hons) degrees, through to a small number of HND, HNC, and Foundation Certificates

There are many different subject combinations on offer – common joint courses include business, modern foreign languages, English, history, and law, to name a few.


Apprenticeships are available in the following areas:

Degree apprenticeships:

  • Accountancy – e.g. professional accountant
  • Banking and financial services – e.g. relationship manager (banking)

Higher apprenticeships:

  • Accountancy – Level 4 – e.g. management accountant, actuarial technician
  • Banking and investment – Level 4 – e.g. financial adviser, investment operations specialist

Advanced apprenticeships:

  • Senior healthcare assistant
  • Care supervisor
  • Senior support worker
  • Social work assistant
  • Social services officer
  • Outreach development worker
  • Community support worker
  • Family support worker
  • Personal assistant

Find out more about apprenticeships

Entry requirements

A levels – To get on to a social studies related degree, you will usually require a minimum of two A levels, with three A levels and A/B grades required for the most popular courses. For most degrees there are no particular A levels required, (although some universities ask for an essay based subject) apart from:

Economics – Although economics A level is not required (it may be an advantage), some universities ask for maths A level.

‘Some courses require A level Maths, but most do not. Virtually all require GCSE maths at grade C or B. No courses require A level economics, although it may be an advantage.’
The Economics Network

Human geography – A level geography may be required or preferred by some universities.

‘If the undergraduate programme includes courses in physical/biological anthropology or forensics, there may be an expectation that students have an A-level in biology or a related subject.’
Royal Anthropological Institute


Social work – Interviews form a key part of the selection process and applicants are also required to complete a written test. Relevant work experience is essential (up to six months part time experience is required by some courses) and universities will look for evidence that you are suited to social work including your:

  • interest and motivation to undertake the career
  • interpersonal and communication skills
  • ability to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds
  • resilience to deal with challenging and emotionally difficult cases

‘People who want to undertake the social work degree need to show that they have an understanding of social work and will need some experience of social work or social care prior to studying. This experience can be achieved through paid work, voluntary work, work placements or life experience.’
British Association of Social Workers

Personal statement

Competition for places can be high so personal statements form an essential part of the selection process. Admissions tutors want to see you have aptitude, interest, and motivation in you chosen subject. In general, this means they are looking for:

  • an explanation of what drives your interest in your chosen field
  • evidence that you have a real enthusiasm for the subject, which could be demonstrated by:
    • relevant work experience/shadowing or voluntary work
    • additional reading and research
    • membership of related societies/clubs
  • a range of interests outside of academic study – e.g. sport, music
  • a well written statement that shows you are a motivated individual who has something to contribute to the university
  • ability to work individually and in teams

How to write your personal statement

Where can I find out more?

Visit the websites of the following professional bodies to find out more about courses and careers in social studies.


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