This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- In Stage 1 you'll study two introductory social science modules exploring the issues facing contemporary society.
- Next, at Stages 2 and 3, half your studies will be in interdisciplinary social science and sociology. For the other half, you’ll address some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, including globalisation, development, climate change, migration and urbanisation.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
At Stage 1 you will begin with a broad introductory module covering the key concepts and theories in the social sciences addressing topics in criminology, economics, geography, politics and international studies, psychology and sociology.
The second module will draw on these social sciences subjects and take an international perspective in exploring everyday topics such as money, home, rights and boundaries.
At Stage 2 you’ll explore how social scientists explain and understand the social world, investigating topics such as voting behaviour and the commercialisation of childhood.
For your geography module you'll choose between a highly topical exploration of the complex subject of globalisation and the challenges of globalised living, and investigating the ways in which social science perspectives change how we understand and respond to the major environmental challenges of our time.
At Stage 3 you’ll investigate climate change from scientific and social perspectives; explore issues of food security and biodiversity; and consider the debates and dilemmas involved in developing policy on important environmental issues.
You’ll complete your degree by exploring how social experience is shaped by the material world, and made meaningful through material culture.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 13 September 2019.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Hons) Social Sciences uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- finding external/third party material online.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.
For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
Classification of your degree
On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you’ll be awarded the BA (Honours) Social Sciences degree. If you have chosen a specialist route, your degree title will reflect it as follows:
- BA (Honours) Social Sciences (Criminology)
- BA (Honours) Social Sciences (Economics)
- BA (Honours) Social Sciences (Geography)
- BA (Honours) Social Sciences (Politics)
- BA (Honours) Social Sciences (Psychology)
- BA (Honours) Social Sciences (Religious Studies)
- BA (Honours) Social Sciences (Sociology).
The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.
You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you'll need to succeed. If you're not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.
Answer a few quick questions to check whether you're ready for study success
How much time do I need?
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Preparing for study with an Access module
If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:
- a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:
People, work and society Access module
Skills for career development
Employers value the diverse skills of the social sciences very highly. The ability to work across different academic disciplines will provide you with a broad portfolio of transferable skills including the ability to:
- interpret, analyse, and critically evaluate quantitative and qualitative evidence
- apply learning to real world situations
- communicate effectively to a variety of audiences using different media
- employ a wide range of digital practices to find, use, and create data
- learn autonomously and plan, conduct, and present independent work
- work effectively with others to achieve joint outcomes
A degree in the social sciences can lead to employment across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Businesses, public sector organisations and educational institutions increasingly have to deal with social issues, and value the skills that social science graduates can provide, making this degree relevant to a wide range of professions including local government officer, civil servant, secondary school teacher, social worker, charities, journalism and trade union officials. You can also use your BA (Hons) Social Sciences for further study in the higher education sector.
Many graduate-level jobs are open to social graduates, particularly in business, the voluntary sector and the public sector. Please note, however, that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree:
- secondary school teacher
- social worker
- civil servant
- local government official
- trades union official
- charity worker
- business manager
- university administrator