Social Studies

By Aedín Dunne - Last update

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Do you enjoy helping people? Are you interested in discovering and researching issues in the area of social justice? If you’re caring, a strong communicator and want to impact lives then Social Studies may be an area worth looking at. 

There are different career routes you can take so why not have a look and see if it is a subject that suits you. 

What is social studies?

Social Studies is the study of people in relation to the world around them. It is an interdisciplinary subject that contains social science disciplines from history, geography and ecology to economics, law, philosophy and more. 

What 3rd level courses are available?

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

  • Business, Economics and Social Studies
  • Social Studies (Social Work) 
  • Information & Communication Studies – Social Sciences Two Subject Combination
  • Applied Social Studies in Social Care
  • Applied Social Studies – Professional Social Care
  • Social Studies in Applied Social Care
  • Social, Political and Community Studies
  • Social Studies and Community Care (PLC)
  • Applied Social Studies (PLC)

There are a number of courses under the same heading that may differ in specific content so be sure to research your desired course in detail. 

Studying Social Studies in college

There are a wide range of courses available in the area of social science. In fact, there are over 60 courses to choose from. There are a range of both PLC courses and undergraduate courses, many combining Social Studies with other subjects. The PLC courses on offer are 1-2 years long while the undergraduate courses available range between 3-4 years. 

In any PLC course you will gain a strong foundation in the area of Social Studies. You will gain the knowledge and opportunity to move forward into an undergraduate degree in a relevant area, should you wish.

In your first and second year of an undergraduate degree in Social Studies you may gain an introduction into psychology, social policy and social research, for example. In cases where your course is paired with another subject you will also gain knowledge in the basics of that subject too. 

In your third year, and fourth if applicable to your course, you will look more in depth at more complex areas. Examples of subjects include human rights law, mental health, equality issues and more. You may also have the opportunity to apply your knowledge practically through work placement and workshops. 

Specific course content differs from course to course. Above subjects outlined may change. 

Career options

There are a number of career choices you can take. For those who do a PLC course, you could use it as a stepping stone into an undergraduate degree if you wish. Following on from an undergraduate degree, you may continue your studies at postgraduate level to specialise in a particular area of your interest. 

Many who are interested in becoming social workers or community workers study social studies as well as those who wish to go in directions such as counselling, psychology or related areas. There is also the option of going down the route of research as well as lecturing and teaching in schools and colleges. 

Skills and qualities that are important in this area include excellent communication skills, interpersonal skills, ability to work well with others, helpful, caring, understanding, strong time management and organisation skills, an interest in learning and improving the lives of others. 

Related Jobs

  • Social worker
  • Community worker
  • Community worker
  • Counsellor
  • Nursing 
  • Youth worker
  • Healthcare worker
  • Psychologist

Further Study

Visit for more information.


Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It’s always safest to check with the individual higher education institution which is available on their websites. As a general rule Leaving Cert students should have a minimum of six subjects which should

include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English. 

PLC courses will accept Leaving Certificate results. Specific courses may have their own requirements. For example, some courses may have a certain interview process or expect a portfolio of sorts so it is always important to look into these things in depth. 

The highest points required for a course in Social Studies in 2020 was 543 points to study Business, Economics and Social Studies in TCD. The lowest points required were 197 points to study Applied Social Sciences – Professional Social Care in Carlow College. Other points mostly range between 200-350. 

Where can I study?

For other courses in the area you would like to explore, you can do so here.

Did you know?

  • Social studies is believed to be established by Auguste Comte in 1838. 
  • The fundamental view of socialism is that man, society and the universe are equal.
  • While capitalism is meant to allow people to choose their path in life, social class and poverty can make it difficult to achieve. 



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Aedín Dunne

Media Studies


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