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Social Sciences

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Thousands of students take social sciences courses with the OU each year. The appeal is broad because the many subjects that come under the social sciences umbrella provide fascinating insights into everyday life in our communities, families and workplaces.

Studying our undergraduate social sciences courses you’ll engage with some of the most compelling and contested questions in contemporary society: How do we communicate with each other? Why do places carry meaning for people? What are our rights as citizens? Why are we so fascinated by crime? What shapes our identity and why?

Our social sciences courses will stimulate your curiosity, encourage you to ask questions and challenge assumptions, and help you understand yourself – and the world we live in – more deeply. You’ll also develop a whole range of different skills that will be valuable in your personal life, and in your job.

Degrees ( More about Degrees
More about Degrees
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Undergraduate or bachelors degrees are nationally recognised qualifications consisting of academic study designed to help you gain a thorough understanding of a subject.

For a degree in a named subject, such as business studies or humanities, you'll study mainly in your chosen subject, although you may be able to include some modules from other subjects.

With The Open University you could also study an Open degree where you can combine a range of modules from similar or different subjects to suit either your particular career or personal interests.

You can use a degree to:

  • change careers or progress your current career
  • gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in
  • gain professional recognition
  • go onto postgraduate study, such as a diploma or masters degree.
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  • Combined Social Sciences
    Develop a rich synthesis of knowledge and skills drawn from the breadth of social sciences subjects: criminology; economics; geography; politics; psychology; sociology; and social policy.
  • Criminology and Psychological Studies
    Our society is fascinated by crime and punishment. This degree will help you understand the issues behind the headlines.
  • Economics and Mathematical Sciences
    You’ll gain a good grounding in a broad range of mathematical, statistical and computational skills as well as an understanding of economic theory and issues.
  • Environmental Studies
    This degree will develop your knowledge and understanding of the social, political, economic, scientific and technological issues at the heart of contemporary environmental problems.
  • International Studies
    This degree will enable you to analyse contemporary international issues; grasp key political, economic, environmental and cultural aspects of the international order; and understand international institutions, politics and policy.
  • Philosophy and Psychological Studies
    Explore concepts, theories, methods and debates in philosophy and psychology, relevant to a broad range of careers, including advertising and marketing, social services, administration and management.
  • Politics, Philosophy and Economics
    An internationally recognised combination of subjects, providing you with skills and understanding particularly relevant to many areas of public service, including civil and diplomatic services and local government.
  • Social Policy and Criminology
    Prepare for a career in welfare, government, public health or criminal justice agencies with this degree which examines the historical and contemporary development of social policy and criminology.
  • Open degree
    The BA/BSc Open Degree is a qualification that gives you a huge choice in terms of subjects and modules that you study to make up your degree.

Foundation Degrees ( More about Foundation degrees
More about Foundation degrees
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Foundation degrees are nationally recognised qualifications focusing either on a particular job or profession; they combine work place learning with academic study. Designed and developed with external partners, you must be working either as a paid employee or as a volunteer in a related work setting.

A foundation degree is equivalent to two thirds of an honours degree. They aim to enhance the professional and technical skills of staff within a profession or those intending to go into that profession.

You can use a foundation degree to:

  • change careers or progress your current career
  • gain technical and professional skills
  • gain professional recognition
  • achieve a full honours degree through further study.

Most of our foundation degrees are also offered as diplomas of higher education for those living and working in Scotland.

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  • Counselling
    This qualification will prepare you to become a professional counsellor, equipping you with the theoretical understanding and practical skills required to work in this field.
  • Financial Services
    This foundation degree will give you the knowledge, competencies and business skills to develop and progress a career in the financial services industry.

Diplomas of Higher Education ( More about Diplomas of Higher Education
More about Diplomas of Higher Education
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A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) is equivalent to two thirds of an honours degree. They are nationally recognised qualifications focusing either on a particular job or profession, or academic study.

DipHEs are designed to increase the professional and technical skills of staff within a profession or extend your knowledge and understanding of a particular subject. A DipHE shows that you are capable of extended study at university level.

You can use a DipHE to:

  • change careers or progress your current career
  • gain technical and professional skills
  • gain a greater knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in
  • gain professional recognition
  • achieve a full honours degree through additional study.

The Diploma of Higher Education might be of particular interest to those living and working in Scotland.

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Certificates of Higher Education ( More about Certificates of Higher Education
More about Certificates of Higher Education
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A Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) is a nationally recognised qualification focusing on either a particular job or profession, or academic study. Equivalent to the first year of a full honours degree, they are the most basic level of qualification that can be gained in higher education and show that you are capable of studying successfully at university level.

You can use a CertHE to:

  • gain confidence to study successfully at university level
  • change careers or progress your current career
  • build on your existing experience and gain new skills
  • gain a broad introduction to a subject you are interested in
  • achieve a foundation degree, DipHE or full honours degree through additional study.
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Getting started with an Access module

There are two ways to start a qualification. If you haven’t studied for a long time or need to build your confidence, beginning your studies with an Access module may be the right choice for you.

Choose a qualification to find out more.

Study a module as a standalone course

You can study a single module on its own for personal interest or to improve your career prospects. See the list of all our individual courses in Social Sciences.

Postgraduate options

If you already have a degree, you may want to see postgraduate courses and qualifications in Social Sciences

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.

Studying outside of UK and Europe?

If you live outside of the UK, Republic of Ireland and Europe, please visit our website for international students.

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