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 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.
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 the social world is being transformed by the internet and digital technology. For your geography module you'll choose between a highly topical exploration of environmental issues drawing on insights from both natural and social sciences, 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 explore how social experience is shaped by the material world and made meaningful through material culture. You’ll also 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.
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 17 March 2021.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Honours) 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
- face-to-face tutorials/day schools/workshops and/or online tutorials
- working in a group with other students
- finding external/third party material online
- continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions, and in some cases an examination
- using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
- engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills throughout your degree.
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; elearning 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 course, we’ll award you our BA (Honours) Social Sciences.
If you have chosen a specialist route, your degree title will show that, for example, BA (Honours) Social Sciences (Criminology).
The class of honours (first, upper-second, lower-second or third) will depend on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.
You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
If you intend to use your Open University qualification to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.
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
Preparing for study with an Access module
Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.
You’ll also benefit from:
- feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:
People, work and society Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.
View full details of 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