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Social Policy

Graduate Taught (level 8 nfq, credits 60)
This Higher Diploma is a transition course providing a foundation in Social Policy for graduates of other disciplines.
• regular access to academic staff who specialise in a wide range of areas within Social Policy and Social Work
• regular seminar meetings which provide academic support through the year of study.

Vision and Values Statement
The Higher Diploma in Social Policy is a level 8 transition course providing a foundation in Social Policy for graduates of other disciplines. On completion of the course students will have developed an understanding of contemporary social issues and critical policy analysis. Social policy studies the roots of social inequalities, poverty, social justice, crime and social order and social risks in the workplace and how welfare programmes, political movements and cultural values shape them. Students will gain applied knowledge in the reasons for social policy, the complex nature of policy making, and the social consequences of welfare interventions. We will help students develop a broad toolkit of methodological approaches for social inquiry and work practice. The degree provides a strong foundation for both postgraduate study, in particular social work, and a wide range of careers in government, voluntary and community sector, policy advocacy and activism, media and private sector organisations.

We value multidisciplinary exploration, understanding and critical reflection on inequality, poverty, social justice, crime and a wide range of social policies. We encourage our students to be critical thinkers, to develop an awareness of ethical issues, and to engage with civil society to achieve greater equality and well-being in societies.

Through individual and group learning, social policy students are provided with a learning environment that supports the development of reflective and analytical skills. Students will learn to evaluate evidence and identify solutions to key issues of social justice, social work and welfare. We teach how to communicate effectively to various audiences. Within a diverse community of lecturers and students an open and pluralistic discussion culture is nurtured and supported.

We apply a variety of teaching and learning methods. A combination of lectures and seminars are the primary teaching method, delivered by dedicated educators, practitioners and experts in their field. In addition, we use active learning approaches, such as panel debates, data lab work, policy evaluations, poster sessions, field work and group work. Face to face interaction between students, lecturers and tutors is supported by online tools.

Programme Outcomes
• Demonstrate an understanding of key social policy theories, concepts and practice and understand the interaction of organisations, culture and actors shaping social policy.
• Synthesise, compare, evaluate and report theories and evidence of social policy in an open, analytical and critical manner to comprehend problems of social exclusion, welfare and redistribution.
• Apply their knowledge in policy and practice to find evidence-based, ethical and creative solutions to social and welfare issues.
• Use appropriate research methods to develop and answer research questions.
• Communicate their knowledge and solutions effectively through structured, concise and accurate presentations and writings.
• Work effectively and responsibly as an individual and in teams.
• Use professional and appropriate techniques, tools and technologies in their work in order to manage their time and tasks.
• Demonstrate an awareness of ethical principles in practice, policy and research.

Entry requirements

Please contact the school for entry requirements.


1 year full-time.

Number of credits


Careers or further progression

Career Opportunities
The Higher Diploma in Social Policy can be used as a transition course for those who need to fulfil the Social Policy credit requirements for access to postgraduate training in Social Work.

Related Programmes
MSocSc Social Work FT

Further enquiries

Contact Name: Dominic Shellard
Contact Number: +353 (0)1716 8682

Subjects taught

Stage 1 - Core
Social Policy Theories and Concepts I

Economics of Social Policy

Social Protection: Security, Work and Poverty

Housing Policies, Neighbourhoods and Homes

EU Social Policy

Policy-making, Implementation & Evaluation

Child Abuse, Sexual + Domestic

Global Crisis & Social Justice

Stage 1 - Option
Contemporary Irish Welfare State

Understanding Social Problems and Policies

History of Irish Social Policy

Investigating Social Services

Social Work in Practice

Comparing Welfare States in Europe & Asia

Crime, the Just Sys & Soc Serv

Social Policy, Social Justice and the Environment

Analys Health & Soc Care Pol

Migration, Racism and Irish Society

Family Pol in Compar Persp

Human Rights & Social Justice


Who should apply?
Full Time option suitable for:
Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

The course is designed to enable students to have the opportunity to pursue further training and careers in Social Work or Social Policy. Successful completion of the programme to good honours standard may confer eligibility to apply for programmes such as the MSocSc (Social Work) and the research degree in Social Policy, or the Masters degree in Public Policy. There may, in addition, be non-academic entry requirements for these programmes which must also be met.

Application date

How to apply?
The following entry routes are available:
HDip Social Policy FT (W050)
Duration: 1 Years
Attendance: Full Time
Deadline: Rolling *

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised.

Course fee

HDip Social Policy (W050) Full Time
EU fee per year - €6,475
non EU fee per year - €12,800

***Fees are subject to change

Tuition fee information is available on the UCD Fees website.

Enrolment and start dates

Next Intake: 2019/2020 September

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!