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The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

What to expect when studying social sciences

Find everything you need to know about studying a social science degree including entry requirements, course content, employment opportunities and more.

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Social science can be broadly defined as the study of human behaviour and society, providing students with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in a diverse range of professions. Social science disciplines include anthropology, economics, politics, law, psychology, and sociology So, if you’re interested in understanding how different societies function and how you could improve them, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, you’ll find all the key information that you need to know before applying to study social science.


Which courses are counted as a social science?

As you can see there are a number of different subject areas which fall into the category of social science. While each of these courses are quite different in what they cover, all will consider human behaviour and the operation of society from a specific perspective with some overlap between each field. For example, a politics degree may cover topics within economics, geography, history and law.



Want to use your mathematical brain to understand how wealth and finance is distributed around the world? An economics degree is generally split into the two main fields of microeconomics and macroeconomics. The former being the study of an individual’s finances and the latter being the study of economies around the world.



If you’re interested in the evolution of human culture, anthropology sounds like the right degree for you. This course looks at different cultures around the world, considering historical, political and economic influences on societies around the world.



Want to influence policy and contribute to the effective functioning of society? Politics is a thought-provoking and challenging degree within the social sciences in which you can learn about human rights, democracy, government structures, international relations and more. Hear more from a politics student.



The study of humans and the world, geography is also a humanities subject and has two subdisciplines of physical geography or human geography. The former is a more scientific approach, looking at the earth and its functions whereas human geography considers topics such as tourism, economics, globalization, immigration and so on.



Defined as the study of life and human behaviour, sociology degrees involve looking into different communities, groups, institutions, crime, social structures and other topics which intersect with related social science disciplines.



Do you have an interest in past human behaviour? Want to understand how this has influenced life as we know it? Historians use evidence and facts about the past to better understand cultures, traditions, wars and other important events in history.



Learn about the law and its influence on many aspects of society such as business, finance, the environment, immigration, politics and so on. Want to know more about law?



Linguistics is the scientific study of language which teaches students to analyse the grammar, phonetics, syntax, and pragmatics of different languages and dialects.



This is a popular degree that is broadly defined as the science of the mind and behaviour. Psychology is a multifaceted field with various subdisciplines such as cognitive, social, forensic, clinical and developmental psychology.



Entry requirements

Universities will consider several factors when assessing your eligibility for a course in one of the social sciences. This will generally mean you need to fulfil the following requirements:



Entry requirements will vary according to each institution and course so make sure you check the specific university websites to find out what you need to fulfil before applying. A degree in law for example may have completely different entry requirements from a course in anthropology at the same university so it’s important that you verify the details.


How much does it cost to study for a social science degree?

When researching universities around the world, you will notice that the cost of a degree varies considerably. So again, make sure you check with the university you’re interested in to find out what costs you will need to cover as an international student. To give you an idea, we’ve looked into the average tuition fees of an economics degree for international students in some of the top study destinations:


UK – Economics (BSc) - GBP 13,500 - Bristol, University of West England

USA – Economics (BSc) – USD 41,330 – Michigan State University

Canada – Economics (BA) – CAD 29,500 – University of Alberta

Australia – Bachelor of Social and Economic Policy – AUD 32,300 - University of Canberra



What skills will I gain from a social sciences degree?

A social science degree is beneficial for your future as you can gain many transferrable skills which are relevant for a range of industries. For example:


  • Problem-solving
  • Analysis
  • Lateral and critical thinking
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Effective communication
  • Forming an argument
  • Understanding people and human behaviour
  • Knowledge and acceptance of different cultures/religions


What career can I pursue with a social science degree?

The great thing about studying for a social science degree is that it can open doors to a lot of different employment opportunities. If you’re someone who isn’t totally sure what career you’d like to pursue after university, then a course in the social sciences could be the perfect choice as you’d have a broad range of options to explore after graduation. Types of relevant careers include:


  • Civil servant
  • Solicitor/barrister/lawyer
  • Social worker
  • Equality and diversity officer
  • Charity officer
  • Social researcher
  • Counsellor/psychotherapist
  • Policy adviser
  • Journalist
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Teaching
  • Banking and finance
  • Political correspondent
  • Human Resources
  • Education


As this list shows, the possibilities are wide-ranging. This means that you might need to continue with your studies at the postgraduate level to specialise in a more specific area. For example, to become a psychotherapist, you have to study psychology or a related field at a master’s level to qualify for professional practice.


However, a social science bachelor’s degree is a solid foundation, equipping you with useful knowledge and an undergraduate course needed to apply for further study. Why not find out a bit more about matching your career and study path, matching your personality with a career, and explore professional degrees?


You should now have a better understanding of what to expect from a social sciences degree. If you’re still not sure which university or course to apply to, you can use our course matcher tool to find what’s right for you. This is a great way to browse different options based on your personal preferences and qualifications. Best of luck!

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