Social Policy - Conversion Programme - Online

University College Cork

Social Policy - Conversion Programme - Online

Course Outline
Our Higher Diploma in Social Policy (online) is an online conversion course giving a foundation in the field of social policy for graduates who do not hold a social science degree. It can be studied full-time over one year or part-time over two years.

The course is delivered online and provides a flexible approach to study for students with employment and/or care responsibilities; as well as those restricted geographically.

The course sets social policy in the context of the social sciences. The course is particularly relevant to those of you who want to apply for professional postgraduate courses in social work, e.g. Master of Social Work.

Course Practicalities
Each module is built around a series of weekly short lectures, assigned readings, and online discussions. Full-time students can typically expect 10-15 hours of study per week alongside moderated activities. For the part-time option, students can typically expect 6-7 hours of study per week. The course is designed to be flexible to consider the busy schedules of students with employment and care responsibilities. The online delivery will allow students to engage with the course material when it suits them. It is important to note that more time will be required to research and write assignments.

Students must also make themselves available for occasional online supervisory meetings in the second semester while writing their research report. The research report is taken in the second semester. It is a desk-based piece of research of 10,000 words in length.

As the course is delivered online, it is recommended that applicants have access to a reliable internet connection of at least 2Mb/s or more download speed and 0.5Mb/s upload speed.

Subjects taught

In Part I of the Higher Diploma in Social Policy (online) programme you study core modules on topics including the evolution of the welfare state, poverty, social exclusion, social policy, and social analysis. You will be introduced to critical areas of study within the field of social policy.

In Part II you undertake a supervised 10,000-word, social research project (SS5104) on a social policy topic of choice (in consultation with your supervisor). This will be a desk-based piece of research, involving an exploration of policy and literature.

Part I

Core Modules (30 credits)

SS5101 Social Policy and Social Theory (online) (10 credits) – Semesters 1 and 2
SS5102 Contemporary Social Policy Analysis (online) (10 credits) –

Semesters 1 and 2
SS5108 Poverty and Social Exclusion (online) (5 credits) – Semester 1
SS5106 Housing and Homelessness (online) (5 credits) – Semester 1
Elective Modules (choose 15 credits)

SS5110 Social Policy and Social Work (online) (5 credits) –
Semester 2
SS5105 Social Professions and Social Practice IV (online) (5 credits) – Semester 1
SS5107 Education and welfare (online) (5 credits) – Semester 2
SS5109 The Politics of Racism (online) (5 credits) – Semester 2

Part II

SS5104 Social Research Report (15 credits) – Semester 2

Further details on the modules listed above can be found in our Book of Modules. Any modules listed above are indicative of the current set of modules for this course but are subject to change from year to year.

University Calendar

You can find the full academic content for the current year of any given course in our University Calendar.

Entry requirements

he Higher Diploma in Social Policy (Online) is open to graduates who do not already possess a BSocSc (Hons) Degree.

This is a conversion course and is designed for graduates of any discipline who may be interested in pursuing further study in the fields of social policy or social work.

The minimum entry requirement is an Ordinary Bachelor's degree (Level 7) or equivalent.

English Language Requirements
Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Please visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

For applicants with qualifications completed outside of Ireland
Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants
For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.

Application dates

The closing date for non-EU applications is 30 June 2023

How Do I Apply
1. Check Dates: Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

For Irish and EU applicants we operate a rounds system and you can check the rounds closing dates here.
Note that not all our programmes are subject to the rounds system so check the opening and closing dates for your specific programme in the fact file boxes above.

2. Gather Documents: Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply Online: Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)
Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. This will include the following questions:

You may enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.

Please detail your computing/technical/IT skills.

Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme.

Please enter the names and email addresses of two referees (one from an academic source and the other from a work source - either voluntary or paid).

Note that successful EU applicants are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of €500 on acceptance of their place.

Assessment Info


Summative assessment in the taught component of the course consists of essays, portfolios, policy papers, reports, analysis of texts. The research report is a 10,000 word document and is undertaken under the supervision of a staff member. Students are also supported for this project with a series of guiding videos. Formative assessment such as participation in group discussions and collaborative projects are not assigned marks.


1 year full-time; 2 years part-time online.

Enrolment dates

Start Date: 7 September 2020

Post Course Info

Skills and Careers Information
The Higher Diploma in Social Policy (online) gives students a foundation in the study of the welfare state and the social services. It is a conversion course for those who don't hold a social science degree, but wish to apply for the Master of Social Work course. The course also prepares students for entry to other postgraduate courses in the School of Applied Social Studies, UCC, e.g. social policy, planning, youth and community work, social services administration and child care.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Higher Diploma (Level 8 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider