ip target image
You are currently browsing our site with content tailored to students in your country
The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

What's it like to study social sciences?

Discover what studying a degree in social sciences is all about. We guide you through the social science subjects you can study, course entry requirements, and the potential careers for social science graduates.

share image


Social science is the study of human behaviour and society. This means studying a degree in social sciences gives you the chance to pursue a qualification in exciting and dynamic fields. If you study social science you’ll also gain skills and knowledge that can help you in a diverse range of careers. We guide you through what it’s like to study social sciences, the subjects you can choose from, the general entry requirements for courses, and your potential career options when you graduate. 


What social science courses are there?

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 is quite different in what is covered, 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. Let's explore some of the more well-known and popular social science courses:


1. Economics

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


2. Anthropology

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.


3. Politics

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.


4. Geography

The study of humans and the world, geography is also a humanities subject and has two subdisciplines of physical geography and 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.


5. Sociology

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.


6. History

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.


7. Law

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?


8. Linguistics

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


9. Psychology

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 for social science degrees

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.



What does a social science degree cost?

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 learn in a social sciences degree?

A social science degree is beneficial for your future as you can gain many transferrable skills which are relevant to 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 careers are there for social science graduates?

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!

Must read

article Img

Why study law: Top 10 benefits of becoming a lawyer

What do Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto, Barack Obama and Mahatma Gandhi have in common? Interestingly, they are world leaders who studied law. One of the oldest academic fields in the world, a law degree is a highly regarded qualification and promises great career opportunities.   For some, to study law is to uphold justice, a noble call that is most commendable (and the world needs more of them); nevertheless, law is not just for lawyers or in the

article Img

What are professional degrees?

When evaluating your study options and doing your research you’ll probably have come across qualifications that are categorised as professional degrees. Perhaps you’re not entirely sure what this means or what differentiates such programmes and courses from academic degrees. You may also be asking yourself if they have a particular impact on your career trajectory. We take a closer look at professional degrees for you and examine what they’re all about.