Social Policy and Practice Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Social Policy and Practice?

Social policy refers to all policies that ensure the welfare of the state and individuals and the dynamic practices that constantly change. The main goal of social policies is to ensure that everyone in society lives in peace and harmony away from conflicts.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in Social Policy and Practice in the following subject areas:

  • Social Policy (NFQ Level 6) – Examine the executive functions of the state and the processes involved in decision making and social policy development within government.
  • Personal Lives and Social Policy – Explore the processes by which individuals shape and are shaped by policymaking and welfare.
  • Rethinking Social Policy – Examine new ways of thinking about social policy, including post-structuralism and feminism, which are starting to challenge traditional approaches.
  • Legal Training for Child Protection & Welfare Practitioners – Designed to meet the specific need for education and training in legal statutes and the application of those in practice for all health, social care and policing professionals working in the area of child protection and welfare.
  • Child Protection & Welfare in ECCE Settings –This course will highlight the importance of having clear and detailed background knowledge about Child Protection and Welfare Issues of Children.
  • Care, Welfare and Community For Social Workers – Examine the issues involved in supporting and caring for vulnerable adults – within families, between friends and neighbors, and within the health and social care services.
  • Welfare, Crime And Society – Examine relationships between social welfare and crime control, focusing on issues like anti-social behavior, poverty, discrimination, hate crimes, child labor, health, housing and gated communities.

Studying Social Policy and Practice

There are many courses in Social Policy and Practice that may take place over a few days, weeks or even 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or a work shadow in the industry. Any experience that involves supporting or helping members of the public or in local communities will be useful. Many public sector, volunteering and charitable organizations offer opportunities to gain relevant experience and develop your skills. Relevant work experience is a good way of demonstrating a genuine interest in the field and is regarded favorably by employers.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a Social Policy and Practice course you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of a range of skills that are essential for a career in public service, policy or government.

You will look at the problems that societies face and policies and processes that can help citizens. You will be able to research, interpret and evaluate data from social surveys and research publications, and make connections between social policy and the real world.

You may work for a larger organization focusing on a specific area, such as project management, business development, finance, marketing, public relations, fundraising or volunteer management. Or in a smaller one where you’ll often be involved in multiple aspects and may manage several projects.

Many social policy graduates find employment in management positions. Within public sector organizations, this can include public authorities and trusts, the criminal justice system, local or central government or the Civil Services.

In the private sector, you could find work within areas such as HR, marketing, retail or banking.

Opportunities also occur in charities and voluntary organizations, social work and other personal social services work, social and political research organizations and further and higher education institutions.

Working hours will depend on whether you are self-employed, employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various businesses or companies. Within the field typical working hours are usually 9 am to 5 pm, five days a week, though this may vary according to the requirements of the role and especially if you’re involved in fundraising. Some flexibility may be required if a job involves attending events, as these may occur during evenings and weekends.

Related jobs include:

  • Charity officer
  • Civil Service administrator
  • Community development worker
  • Community education officer
  • Youth worker
  • Government social research officer
  • Health service manager
  • Housing manager/officer
  • Local government officer
  • Policy officer
  • Politician’s assistant
  • Social researcher
  • Chaplain
  • Data analyst
  • Data scientist
  • Detective
  • Education administrator
  • Human resources officer
  • International aid/development worker
  • Paralegal
  • Police officer
  • Public affairs consultant

Further study

After completing a course in Social Policy and Practice you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skill set. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as business studies, community development, community studies, economics, finance or accounting, law, marketing, public relations, social policy and administration, sociology and voluntary sector management.


What is the importance of Social Policy and Practice?

Social policy helps us to understand social problems in our societies and their causes, which affects every individual and how the government have or are implementing policies to solve these social problems. The key purpose of social policy and practice is to support and protect people who are considered vulnerable in society.

What are considered to be the 6 basic human needs?

These 6 needs, when met, allow for a person to develop self-esteem, security, belonging, actualization, and contentment.

  • Food – The body needs calories and a variety of nutrients including protein, fat, and carbohydrates every day to grow, function, and repair.
  • Water – Ample hydration allows for the processes of the body to occur.
  • Shelter – We require protection from the blazing sun, freezing temperatures, wind, and rain.
  • Sleep – 6–9 hours of sleep every 24 hours allows the brain to process new knowledge and deal with emotional information.
  • Others – Adults require connection (physical or emotional) with other humans to release certain hormones like oxytocin. Human touch is so important that when we are young, our brains don’t develop correctly without it.
  • Novelty – Novelty creates the opportunity to learn and the potential to fail, which stimulates dopamine release in the brain.

Where can I study Social Policy and Practice?

Explore your options here

 Did You Know?

  • The top 1% of the global wealth distribution holds 46% of the world’s wealth.
  • Some 880 million people live in slums, and nearly 40% of the world’s future urban expansion may occur in slums.
  • Nonprofits are vital in social change. Nonprofits are often the driver of awareness, bringing solutions to communities affected by a lack of progress. Many nonprofits work to provide clean water and food to those without such necessities and diminish the effects of climate change in developing countries. In many of its efforts, it also looks to increase the economic well-being of developing countries to ensure their citizens are provided with enough resources to live and flourish.
  • Every minute an average of 24 people are displaced from their homes. At the end of 2015 more than 65 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced, more than the population of France.
  • Globally women hold only 22% of the seats in parliament, 26% of the seats on the highest courts and 18%of ministerial positions.

Mariza Halliday

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