Skip navigation

Search the site

UWS Graduates Laughing | UWS Graduate Attributes | University of the West of Scotland

See the world - differently

Social justice, power and inequalities are the central themes of the UWS BA (Hons) in Social Sciences. The first two years of this programme equip you with a firm grounding in the essential disciplines of politics, policy and sociology. After this, you can choose to follow one of three specialist pathways:

  • Politics and Policy (Paisley Campus)
  • Sociology and Policy (Paisley Campus)
  • Sociology (Lanarkshire Campus)

Investigating social and political change, you will explore both how we understand society and how we can change it for the better, developing your critical thinking alongside a wide range of research and transferable skills that are highly valued by the public, private and voluntary sectors.


Programme highlights

  • You will investigate the driving forces behind and potential solutions to complex local and global challenges in social science, using a range of theoretical lenses and research methods.
  • Specialist pathways provide the opportunity for in-depth exploration of social issues such as health, migration, development, international relations, gender, nationalism and welfare.
  • Hone your understanding and experience of social sciences as a creative problem solver, drawing on cutting-edge research, policy analysis and evaluation.
  • Work with expert academic staff choosing your own preferred course theme, completing an in-depth independent research project in your Honours year.

Watch a Zoom session from the programme academics

Our programme academics have recorded Zoom sessions to help you discover all there is to know about our courses. From professional accreditation to programme modules and career opportunities, our programme academics will help answer all your questions. You can find them on our YouTube Channel or by clicking the link below.


BA (Hons) Social Sciences Programme Academics

More videos

You can also view videos on the politics and policy streams of the programme on our YouTube Channel.

Politics stream video                Policy stream video 


Learn from the best

Programmes underpinned by internationally excellent/world-class research - Research Excellence Framework 2014

Group of students holding hands in front of a red bus

More Information

The suite comprises:

  • BA (Hons) Social Sciences - both campuses
  • BA (Hons) Social Sciences (Politics & Policy) - Paisley Campus
  • BA (Hons) Social Sciences (Sociology & Policy) - Paisley Campus
  • BA (Hons) Social Sciences (Sociology) - Lanarkshire Campus

The first two years are common and thereafter you can specialise your studies through the selection of a number of optional modules according to your career preferences.

Entry Requirements

What qualifications do you need? 

We welcome Scottish, UK and international students and consider all applicants on an individual basis.
Don’t worry if your qualifications are not listed here, we take a range of factors into account when assessing your application and are happy to consider other alternative combinations of qualifications and experience.
If you are applying with an EU or non-EU qualification, please check our Undergraduate Entry Requirements page which gives more information about country-specific entry requirements.

Year 1

  • Scottish Highers: BBBB (108 UCAS Tariff points)
  • A levels: CCC (96 UCAS Tariff points)
  • Irish Leaving Certificate: H3 H3 H3 H4
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma: 24 points (3 at HL)
  • SQA HNC / BTEC Level 4 HNC: Social Sciences^ or Social Studies^ or Business or Social Care* or Police Studies* or Working with Communities
  • SQA HND / BTEC Level 5 HND: Legal Services or Childhood Practice or Counselling*
  • Swap Wider Access Programme: Access to Humanities - including Primary Teaching route or Social Sciences (BBB)

^ see also Year 2 entry requirements

* these qualifications will be considered on a case-by-case basis

Year 2

  • SQA HNC / BTEC Level 4 HNC: Social Sciences or Social Studies (for SQA HNCs with Grade B in the Graded Unit)
  • SQA HND / BTEC Level 5 HND*: Social Sciences or Social Studies

* see also Year 3 entry requirements

Year 3

  • SQA HND / BTEC Level 5 HND: Social Sciences or Social Studies (for SQA HNDs with Grade B in the Graded Units)

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for most courses

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level. The qualifications below must have been gained within two years of the start of your course.

General English language requirements at UWS: International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.0
  • no sub-test less than 5.5

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII with the minimum of a Pass in all sub-tests
  • PTE Pearson Academic English: An overall score of 54 with no element below 51 (for programmes that require IELTS 6.0 with no element below 5.5). An overall score 61 with no element below 51 (for programmes that require IELTS 6.5 with no element below 6.0)


IELTS Score Exceptions (Research degrees, Nursing & Midwifery degrees with NMC registration, Certificate of Higher Education, etc.)

For our research degrees (MRes, MPhil, PhD, DBA, DProf), applicants are required to have an IELTS score as follows:

  • overall score of 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0

For Health, Nursing & Midwifery courses that lead to professional registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council, applicants are required to have an IELTS or Occupational English Test (OET)*.

For such courses, the IELTS score is as follows:

  • overall score of 7.0
  • score of at least 7.0 in reading, listening and speaking and no less than 6.5 in writing

* Note that the Occupational English Test (OET) will now be accepted in addition to IELTS as proof of a Nurse's English Language Competence (Nursing & Midwifery Council, 2019). 

For our Certificate of Higher Education courses, applicants are required to have an IELTS score as follows:

  • overall score of 5.0
  • no sub-test less than 4.5



TOEFL IBT*: 78; no sub-test less than:

  • Reading: 17;
  • Listening: 17;
  • Speaking: 17;
  • Writing: 17

* Please note that TOEFL is still acceptable for admission to this programme for both home/EU and international students.
For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use TOEFL to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level courses. We therefore still accept TOEFL tests taken in the last two years for admission to this programme.


West African Senior School Certificate of Education (WASSCE)

West African Senior School Certificate of Education (WASSCE) including acceptance of WAEC Scratchcard*

  • C6 or above in English

*UWS will accept a WAEC scratchcard confirming that an applicant has achieved C6 or above as evidence of meeting English language requirement from Nigeria if the student graduated within the last 5 years. After 5 years applicants would be required to provide the WAEC Certificate.


Pre-sessional courses

Applicants who do not meet the minimum English language requirements have the option to study one of our preparatory and pre-sessional English courses. The UWS courses available are:

    • 10 week pre-sessional - entry criteria UKVI IELTS 5.0 with no element below 4.5.
    • 5 week pre-sessional - entry criteria UKVI IELTS 5.5 with no element below 5.5.
    • English Language for University Study - entry criteria UKVI IELTS with score of 4.0 in all elements (10 month course), or 4.5 with no score below 4.0 (7 month course).

Find out more about our English lanaguage Courses.

Course details

In this course we will help you develop a range of key transferable skills to enhance your employability, including critical research skills, information literacies, data-handling and analysis and communication skills.  

Throughout the course, you will be supported and encouraged to become a reflective, self-regulated and independent learner.

Year 1

TERM 1: You will be introduced to critical social science disciplines, developing a powerful range of conceptual tools and research evidence, investigating issues including equality, pressure groups, gender, ethnicity and race in:

  • Democracy in the UK
  • Introducing Sociology
  • One optional module from Making the Modern World (Lanarkshire) or Criminal Behaviour and Deviance (Paisley)

TERM 2: Learn about the world of social science research and the critical role of policy in supporting employment, health and education in:

  • Research & Inquiry 1
  • Development of Social Policy

Year 2

In second year, you will deepen your engagement with the key debates in social sciences. Core modules address questions of power, citizenship, global society, and the classical works of social and political thought. Your studies will be underpinned by the Research & Inquiry 2 module, where you will extend the research skills that you developed in your first year.


  • Research & Inquiry 2A
  • Power, State & Citizenship
  • Foundations of Social & Political Thought


  • Research & Inquiry 2B
  • Global Society

Plus one option from:

  • Social Policy & Social Change (Paisley)
  • People, Places & Capitalism (Lanarkshire)

Year 3

Starting from Year 3, you can choose a specialist pathway in: Sociology (Lanarkshire); Politics and Policy (Paisley); or Sociology and Policy (Paisley). In addition to undertaking the Research & Inquiry 3 module to hone your research practice ahead of your final year dissertation. In addition to this 40-credit core module you will select from a range of optional modules.


Choose two modules from:

  • Scottish Society (Lanarkshire & Paisley)
  • American Politics & Policy (Lanarkshire & Paisley)
  • Regeneration and Development (Lanarkshire & Paisley)
  • Contemporary Social Issues and Policy Responses (Paisley)
  • Gender in Society (Lanarkshire)


  • Research & Inquiry 3 (40-credit module)

Plus two modules from:

  • Western Culture in Crisis (Paisley)
  • Democracy & European Political Parties (Paisley)
  • Work, Welfare & Society (Work placement) (Lanarkshire)
  • Capitalism, Culture and Celebrity (Lanarkshire)

*Please note that the selection of modules may occasionally change

Year 4 (Honours)

In your Honours year you will undertake your independent research project (a 40-credit dissertation). You will be supported by staff in using the methods skills that you have developed throughout the course to explore, in depth, the programme theme that has most interested you. In addition, you will increase the range of your specialist knowledge by choosing from a variety of electives.


Social Sciences Dissertation (40 credits; Term 1 and Term 2)

Plus two modules from:

  • Migration, State & Society (Lanarkshire & Paisley)
  • Participation & Democracy (Paisley)
  • Health Policy (Paisley)
  • UK Political History since Second World War (Lanarkshire)
  • Experiencing City Life (Lanarkshire)


Social Sciences Dissertation (40 credits; Term 1 and Term 2)

Plus two modules from:

  • Nationalism (Lanarkshire & Paisley)
  • Parliamentary Studies (Paisley)
  • Family, Gender and Social Welfare (Paisley)
  • International Relations in the Modern World (Paisley)
  • Art, Culture & Society (Lanarkshire)
  • The Embodiment of Social Inequality (Lanarkshire)

*Please note that the selection of modules may occasionally change

Teaching and Assessment

The Social Sciences programme offers students a variety of formative and summative assessments, ranging from traditional exams and essays to case studies, group and individual presentations, real life scenarios (e.g. policy briefs, research proposals) or policy analysis and evaluation. These assessments allow you to demonstrate your development of the following: subject knowledge and understanding in politics, policy and sociology; applied knowledge, skills and understanding; generic cognitive skills; communication, ICT and numeracy skills; and autonomy, accountability and skills in working with others.

Course Structure

Find out more about the structure, learning outcomes, compulsory and optional modules in this course.

BA Social Sciences Course Structure

BA Social Sciences Course Structure (html)

Career prospects


The Social Sciences programme will enhance your core cognitive, interpersonal and communication skills, knowledge and competences. Graduates from the programme have gone on to work in the public, private, and third sectors in areas including: politics, working for or even as elected representatives; contributing their skills to public services industries, such as housing and planning; working in health and social care; undertaking employment in the private sector; and, following conversion courses, teaching in primary and secondary schools.

Further Study

You will also be able to undertake further study at master's level courses such as: MSc International Politics, MSc Social Policy, MSc Applied Social Science, MSc Policy Analysis and Global Governance, MPA Master of Public Administration.

Undergraduate Tuition Fees

Undergraduate fees for this course 2020/21

Scottish & EU

£1,820 cost per year of study (paid by the Scottish Government via SAAS*)

English, Northern Irish & Welsh

£9,250 Cost per year of study for four years but not more than £27,750

Channel Islands & Isle of Man

£9,250 Cost per year of study for four years but not more than £27,750

International (Non-EU)

£13,000 per year of study

More on current & future tuition fees

Modular fee 2020/21

Scottish & EU

£305 per module (20 credit)

English, Northern Irish & Welsh

£1,550 per module (20 credit)

Channel Islands & Isle of Man

£1,550 per module (20 credit)

More on current & future tuition fees

2021/22 Undergraduate Tuition Fees - Full-time


£1,820 Cost of study per year (paid by the Scottish Government via SAAS)

Rest of UK (English, Northern Irish, Welsh)

£9,250 Cost of study per year (for four years but you will not pay more than £27,750)

Republic of Ireland

£9,250 Cost of study per year (for four years but you will not pay more than £27,750)

International (including EU)

£13,325 Cost per year of study

Check Your Tuition Fee Status

2021/22 Tuition Fees for 20-credit Modules (face-to-face)


£305 Cost per 20-credit module of study

Rest of UK (English, Northern Irish, Welsh)

£1,550 Cost per 20-credit module of study

Republic of Ireland

£1,550 Cost per 20-credit module of study

Check Your Tuition Fee Status

Additional Costs & Sources of Funding

The cost of attending university is an investment in your future career.
In addition to tuition fees and living expenses, some courses involve extra costs like study materials, field trips, equipment and uniforms.
Fortunately, there is a great deal of financial support available to help students meet the cost of their study. This ranges from:

  • statutory government loans to pay for tuition fees
  • scholarships for Scottish, EU and International (non-EU) students
  • bursaries to help towards living expenses

The sections below provide details of additional costs that your course may involve along with any financial support that may be available.
You can also find additional information in our Undergraduate Money, Fees & Funding section.

Additional Costs

Students on certain degrees will incur some additional costs not covered by their tuition fees. These could be for things like specialist equipment, study materials, work placements, graduation, membership of relevant organisations or costs related to carrying out fieldwork.

For students on course with an element of fieldwork, there may also be extra costs for travel and accommodation.

Please contact the course leader for details of the additional costs associated with this course.

Tuition Fees* & Living Cost Support

Tuition Fees & Additional Costs

Tuition fees are calculated based on where you are from and what you are studying. Some courses also involve additional costs, such as mandatory field trips, equipment or studying abroad.

Find out how much it will cost you to study at UWS as an undergraduate student.

Funding for Scottish Students

Scottish students studying at undergraduate level at UWS are entitled to various funds and support towards tuition fees and living costs.

Find out more.

Funding for English, Welsh & Northern Irish Students

English, Welsh and Northern Irish students studying at undergraduate level at UWS are entitled to various funds and support towards tuition fees and living costs.

Find out more.

Funding for EU Students

EU students studying at undergraduate level of UWS may be eligible for SAAS funding, as well as support to meet the costs of childcare and various sources of additional funding.

Find our more.

Funding for International Students

There are several scholarship and incentive schemes available to international students studying at undergraduate level at UWS, as well as support to meet the costs of childcare and various sources of additional funding.

Find out more.

Other Financial Support

Discretionary & Childcare Funds

UWS administer a range of discretionary and childcare funds. These are designed to support students who are experiencing financial difficulty or struggling to meet the costs of childcare.

Find out more.

Benefits & Tax Credits

Becoming a student can have an impact on your entitlement to certain benefits. It may mean you are no longer eligible to claim a benefit you have been receiving, or your new income from student funding may affect the amount you are able to receive.

Find out more.

Additional Financial Support

If there isn’t a statutory source of funding for you or your course, or you are in need of additional financial support, you may wish to consider more alternative sources of funding such as trust funds and scholarships.

Find out more.

Money & Debt Advice

Choosing to become a student can have a big impact on your budget and you may need to reassess your spending to account for a reduced income. We’ve put together some guidance to help you manage your money and make the right financial choices for you and your family.

Find out more.

How to apply

Full-time (domestic & EU/EEA)

All UK and EU applicants for undergraduate study, not applying through an agent or partner, should apply through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service)

The on-time application deadline for 2021/22 entry is 29 January 2021, 18:00 (UK time). For some courses it may still be possible to apply beyond this period, subject to suitable vacancies remaining. The final deadline for late applications via UCAS is 30 June 2021, 18:00 (UK time). Beyond this deadline, you may be able to apply via ‘UCAS Clearing’ if the course you are interested in has remaining places.

Please refer to our Undergraduate Application Guide for domestic & EU/EEA to find more information on when and how to apply to study at UWS.

Apply on UCAS

Full-time (non-EU/non-EEA), Part-time & Online (all students), Erasmus & International Exchange

Students from non-EU/non-EEA countries can apply directly to UWS via our dedicated online application system. The latest we can process your application is 6 weeks before the course start date to allow for visa processing times. For more information on when and how to apply to study at UWS please refer to our International Undergraduate Application Guide.

For part-time & online study, you should apply directly to the University through our online application system, not through UCAS. Please select the part-time mode of study when submitting your application. Before you begin your application, it is important to read the part-time application step-by-step guide for a smooth process.

To come to UWS as a visiting student on a study abroad or exchange programme, you must apply entirely through our online system.


An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students applying for this course.

Get in touch

Do you have a question about applying for this course? Get in touch. We are here to help!


Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Key Information Set.

UWS Undergraduate students studying at Ayr Campus

Life at UWS

Going to university is about much more than getting a qualification, it’s also the chance to enjoy an exciting social life, gain some independence and make the most of the new opportunities available.


We will always try to make sure that we publish accurate course information but we do not accept responsibility for any mistakes or omissions. We will also try to make sure that we deliver our courses in line with our published information. However, we may not always be able to do so and you can find further information about this in our enrolment terms and conditions.