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Social Policy - Online

The Higher Diploma in Social Policy (online) is a 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. It 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 who want to apply for professional postgraduate courses in social work, e.g. Master of Social Work.

Students will study core modules on topics including the evolution of the welfare state, poverty, social exclusion, social policy, and social analysis. Students will be introduced to critical areas of study within the field of social policy including:

housing and homelessness;
social professions and social work;
social groups and social rights;
social research and ethics;
identity and self;
political and economic rights

Students will also undertake a supervised 10,000 word, social research project on a social policy topic of the student's choice (in consultation with his/her supervisor). This will be a desk-based piece of research, involving an exploration of policy and literature.

Entry requirements

The 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.

If you are applying with Qualifications obtained outside Ireland and you wish to verify if you meet the minimum academic and English language requirements for this programme please view the grades comparison table by country and for details of recognised English language tests.


1 year full-time; 2 years part-time
Course Delivery Method Online

CKA50 Full-time; CKA51 Part-time;

Careers or further progression

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.

Further enquiries

Phil O'Sullivan
+ 353 21 490 2228

Mr. Joe Finnerty
+ 353 (0)21 490 3537

Subjects taught

Core Modules:

SS5101 Social Policy and Social Theory (online) (10 credits) – Semester 1 and 2

SS5102 Contemporary Social Policy Analysis (online) (10 credits) – Semester 1 and 2

SS5108 Poverty and Social Exclusion (online) (5 credits) – Semester 1

SS5106 Housing and Homelessness (online) (5 credits) – Semester 1


Elective Modules (Students choose 15 credits from the following):

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

Core module
SS5104 Social Research Report (15 credits) – Semester 2

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 reliable internet connection of at least 2Mb/s or more download speed and 0.5Mb/s upload speed.

Assessment method

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.

Application date

Closing Date 27th July 2018

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date 10 September 2018

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