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BA (Honours) Combined Social Sciences

What causes riots? Is commercialisation eroding childhood? Does poverty lead to crime? Social science explores such questions and helps inform others - from police officers to civil servants to business executives - who want to base their decisions on the best evidence. The BA (Honours) Combined Social Science is designed to be very flexible, enabling you to develop a variety of knowledge and skills from a combination of subjects including psychology, sociology, social policy, criminology, geography, politics and economics. You can choose to follow a named specialism by concentrating on one of these areas, or create your own combination of subjects. This degree course will equip you with skills highly valued by employers, such as using IT for the retrieval and effective presentation of information and data; critical evaluation; and concise writing. You'll have your own specialist, subject-based academic support as well as opportunities to join in online communities of other social sciences students for teaching, learning and peer support.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Key facts

Code: Q69 Made up of: 360 credits

There are no formal entry requirements to study this degree.

Fees: Our fees depend on where you are ordinarily resident. We have a range of funding options to help you with payment. When you apply to study we will tell you the fee and funding options that are available to you. Before you apply you can read What you can expect to pay.

Career relevance and employability

Employers rate social science graduates particularly highly for the diversity of their transferable skills and breadth of mind. This interdisciplinary BA (Hons) Combined Social Sciences incorporates breadth - enabling you to understand the contexts of your studies - as well as depth. The range of subjects and perspectives covered will demonstrate your adaptability and versatility to employers, who'll also value your ability to evaluate data and evidence in a variety of ways, and to integrate rather than compartmentalise knowledge. You'll also be able to draw together ideas about a range of issues affecting individuals and society, including the economy; work; gender; race; social inequalities; social norms; crime; policy; environment; international studies; and relationships.

This degree course develops valuable transferable and work-related skills including:

  • using ICT to research, select and present information
  • analysing and evaluating data
  • clear, concise written communication
  • assembling reasoned arguments for particular audiences
  • using a range of formats: essays, presentations, reports, collaborative working, online forums
  • valuing critical feedback to reflect on progress and improve your work
  • working under your own steam and without constant direction

Graduates may find employment in such areas as:

  • national and local government and public administration
  • health and social care
  • education
  • charitable organisations
  • public relations, media and market research
  • planning and environmental management
  • police, law and criminal justice
  • business and commerce.

There's more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Educational aims

This is a broad based interdisciplinary social sciences degree. Your studies will:

  • develop your expertise in a range of social sciences subjects (sociology, economics/financial services, psychology, politics/government, geography, social policy and criminology)
  • enable you to apply the distinctive knowledge, evidence and methods of the social sciences in order to assess and analyse contemporary social issues and problems
  • increase your understanding of how social, economic and political forces and decision-making structure people's lives, in their communities, personal and family lives and workplaces
  • equip you with a range of valuable professional and practical skills that you can articulate to employers, and will enhance your career prospects
  • develop your capacity to be independent, self-evaluative, and creative as a learner and in workplace and other non-academic environments
  • prepare you for further learning at a higher level.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed your degree you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • a diverse range of theoretical debates and explanatory concepts within social science, including current research and scholarship, some of which are interdisciplinary and some within specialist subjects or disciplines of study
  • the key dimensions of social diversity, social differences and inequality and an awareness of their impact on the lives of individuals and groups; consequently a grasp of the scale of different social, individual, institutional and structural entities
  • the significance of the different methods of social science subjects in explaining how societies are ordered, governed and subject to social change
  • how the social sciences explain and evaluate real world issues of ethical, social, political, policy, and public concern and their impact on institutions and the world at large
  • the ethical and political dimensions of social research and the value positions of social sciences knowledge.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • evaluate a range of research methods, types of data collection and techniques of analysis typical of the social sciences showing awareness of the contrasting explanations they can support
  • carry out a piece of personal research using informed social sciences arguments, relevant theories, methods, and evidence and that indicates the complexity inherent in the subject or topic
  • select and synthesise evidence, information and arguments from a diversity of sources including publications informed by recent research developments in a particular subject
  • recognise the contested aspects of knowledge and the potential uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge in a specific subject area.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • produce work that is confident and purposeful, based on your own ideas, demonstrating creativity and your own voice
  • recognise, record and articulate the value and diverse range of your skills and knowledge (e.g. the selection and evaluation of suitable evidence from sources materials, skills of critical analysis, working effectively in a group context, effective communication and use of ICT) and link them to the achievement of your personal and/or career goals
  • use relevant knowledge and skills to engage critically with a range of problems and issues relating to your workplace or to other non-academic contexts
  • work without constant direction, to assess a task and make plans across a whole programme of work that uses your time strategically
  • adapt your working methods and monitor your progress as a consequence of engaging with the views of others, and be able to adapt to unpredictable circumstances.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • retrieve and synthesise a diverse range of relevant social sciences evidence, original and raw texts and data, independently identified
  • confidently select and manipulate a wide range of ICT applications/tools to search information and data, interact electronically and work in a collaborative or group environment
  • present written information and knowledge in essays and other formats to suit a range of audiences/users that set out a logical, coherent, substantiated and persuasive argument
  • use and apply a range of numerical, graphical and/or statistical materials, as part of an argument, acknowledging their complexity and the range of interpretations they can be used to support.

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