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BA (Honours) Social Policy and Criminology

What is the relationship between crime, social inequality and social exclusion? If anti-social behaviour is associated with family and community breakdown, mental health problems and substance abuse, how can we deal with these issues more effectively? The BA (Honours) Social Policy and Criminology takes the study of key questions in contemporary criminology and social policy to an advanced level - examining controversies about crime and disorder in the context of the current recession and cutbacks in social care, education and youth justice budgets. You'll also consider local and global concerns by exploring and comparing developments in different communities and countries. This degree course will equip you with the essential concepts and theories that underpin contemporary social policy and criminology, together with the skills required to evaluate and implement policy initiatives. 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: Q57 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

The BA (Honours) Social Policy and Criminology provides a solid foundation for a career in any area of criminal justice or social policy. It opens up employment opportunities in health, education and social care as well as in the criminal and youth justice systems, in both the public and the voluntary sectors. You'll gain a set of transferable skills relevant to research, policy and management positions in welfare, government, public health and criminal justice agencies.

Studying for this degree course will also enhance your capacity for critical thinking and analysis, problem solving and written communication. You'll develop skills in a range of research methods and learn to use IT and communication techniques in the evaluation of the evidence base for different policy initiatives - attributes that are relevant to a wide variety of careers in social policy and criminology and beyond.

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 degree will provide you with the opportunity to:

  • understand and apply social science concepts and theories to complex areas of social policy and criminology
  • develop a specialised understanding of the research, the debates and the institutions of social policy and criminology and their inter-relationship
  • acquire the skills and knowledge appropriate to graduate status
  • develop professional and practical skills that can be applied to both further learning and the world of work.

Learning outcomes

The degree provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this degree you will have knowledge and understanding of the:

  • key debates and arguments in social sciences and how they help us understand societies
  • key concepts and theories relevant to the study of social policy and criminology, both historical and contemporary
  • increasing overlaps and connections between social policy and criminology both in theory and in practice expressed in institutions, policies and practice
  • contested nature of social policy and criminology, and the ways in which social interests and values impact on policy and practice at both a global and local level
  • diversity and range of social policy and criminology theories and research strategies and how we can assess the relevance of their use.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • define and appropriately utilise key terms and concepts in social sciences, social policy and criminology
  • identify, reflect on and critically evaluate different types of evidence, understanding the socially constructed nature of both primary and secondary sources
  • synthesise arguments by drawing across a range of study materials
  • recognise and use abstract concepts in the fields of social policy and criminology
  • critically demonstrate the relationship between theory, research methods and policy.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • apply theory to the study of policy and practice interventions
  • apply research methodologies to the analysis of documents
  • demonstrate a knowledge of the ethical implications of social science research and knowledge
  • plan, monitor and reflect upon own progress and learning
  • complete work that requires sustained and independent application.

Key skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • select and read material in an appropriate way and effectively take and make use of notes
  • communicate complex information, arguments and ideas clearly in written form
  • select, summarise and synthesise information from a range of sources, including primary texts and other multimedia sources
  • interpret and work with both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies through which the historical and contemporary development of social policy and criminology are understood
  • make use of ICT skills as a means of research: to retrieve, process and evaluate data and other information/evidence
    understand and interpret qualitative and quantitative data and statistical sources.

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