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Why choose the School of Applied Social Sciences

Over 95% of our Health and Social Care graduates are in employment or further study 15 months after graduating (HESA Graduate Outcomes, 2023)

Our Health and Social Care courses rank 1st in their subject table for graduation prospects – outcomes (CUG, 2024)

With our Change Maker programme we ask you to take an active role in bringing about change and working towards social justice

About the course

The world around us is changing rapidly from climate change and Black Lives Matter to the rise in authoritarian governments and industrial action. This up-to-the-minute bespoke course teaches you to make links between the local and the global the individual and society so you graduate with the knowledge and skills to make a change in society.

On this degree you adopt a problem-driven approach to social issues exploring policy and practice intervention responses across government public services and the third sector. You learn to make links between what happens in our neighbourhoods and communities and how these developments connect to sometimes very different communities in other parts of the world. Our teaching and research are rooted in local communities in Luton and Bedfordshire around Britain and in places as far away as Eastern Europe South Africa and the Caribbean.

The course is bespoke in that it offers a choice of three pathways – human rights political sociology or cultural studies – as well as the opportunity to focus on subject areas that motivate you such as globalisation and climate change; human rights and migration; activism and identity; power and inequality; politics and welfare.

Why choose this course?

  • Tailor your education to your interests by choosing one of three pathways and focusing on subject areas that motivate you to explore the relationship between global trends and where you live in topic areas such as climate change migration working conditions community activism and much more
  • Learn through practical task-based activities which give you the transferable skills you need to succeed in a range of jobs in the public private and third sectors
  • Study with an enthusiastic academic team actively publishing in their fields and undertaking world-leading research in human rights migration and asylum; political and social theory and welfare studies; cultural creative and visual sociology
  • By the end of your final year have a strong understanding of key issues in policy the law and society in the UK and internationally; be able to design and conduct projects individually and in teams; understand the fundamentals of research
  • Access one-to-one support from experts in policy and practice; a personal academic tutor; and university-funded support with academic writing and skills
  • Take the course over four years and include a Professional Practice Year (see below) to gain practical experience build your CV and make contacts
  • If you need to step up into higher education start with a Foundation Year (see below) which guarantees entry to the undergraduate degree

with Professional Practice Year

This course has the option to be taken over four years which includes a year placement in industry. Undertaking a year in industry has many benefits. You gain practical experience and build your CV, as well as being a great opportunity to sample a profession and network with potential future employers.

There is no tuition fee for the placement year enabling you to gain an extra year of experience for free.

*Only available to UK/EU students.

with Foundation Year

A Degree with a Foundation Year gives you guaranteed entry to an Undergraduate course.

Whether you’re returning to learning and require additional help and support to up-skill, or if you didn’t quite meet the grades to pursue an Undergraduate course, our Degrees with Foundation Year provide a fantastic entry route for you to work towards a degree level qualification.

With our guidance and support you’ll get up to speed within one year, and will be ready to seamlessly progress on to undergraduate study at Bedfordshire.

The Foundation Year provides an opportunity to build up your academic writing skills and numeracy, and will also cover a range of subject specific content to fully prepare you for entry to an Undergraduate degree.

This is an integrated four-year degree, with the foundation year as a key part of the course. You will need to successfully complete the Foundation Year to progress on to the first year of your bachelor’s degree.

Why study a degree with a Foundation Year?

  • Broad-based yet enough depth to give you credible vocational skills
  • Coverage of a variety of areas typically delivered by an expert in this area
  • Gain an understanding of a subject before choosing which route you wish to specialise in
  • Great introduction to further study, and guaranteed progression on to one of our Undergraduate degrees

The degrees offering a Foundation Year provide excellent preparation for your future studies.

During your Foundation Year you will get the opportunity to talk to tutors about your degree study and future career aspirations, and receive guidance on the most appropriate Undergraduate course to help you achieve this; providing you meet the entry requirements and pass the Foundation Year.


Course Leader - Dr Tom Hoctor

Tom is a political sociologist whose research and teaching sit at the intersection of political economy and social theory. He has published and lectured extensively on the ideological direction of the British Conservative Party, the relationship between political theory and the economy, and work and welfare in the UK and Scandinavia. This focus on how ideas are put into practice is reflected in his teaching agenda which takes concepts like ideology, power and work and asks students to think about how they manifest themselves in the real world. He has also taught extensively on research methodologies at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He is currently co-Principal Investigator of the research project: What Happened to the Affluent Worker? Deindustrialisation and Identity in Luton.

What will you study?

English Language Foundation

This unit focuses on your ability to understand and use the English language accurately when you read, speak, listen and write. We will concentrate on the English you need for undergraduate level study in your chosen subject area, covering grammar, subject area vocabulary and the four language skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking.

A key element of the unit is the grammar of the language, and particularly the verb tense system in English, because your ability to use the verb tense system accurately will be extremely important when you come to write essays and reports. This unit will focus in particular on the grammar of the language.

We will also focus on reading, listening and speaking skills in the context of your chosen subject area. Beginning with short texts, we will practise each skill and practise it again, so that gradually you will see, hear and feel that your command of the language is improving. 

A recurring focus of the unit will be your acquisition of 'learner autonomy'. This means your ability to acquire the language yourself, without needing a teacher's help. This is important because from next year you will not have an English teacher to help you. So we will consider and practise strategies to help you gain confidence in your own ability to increase your knowledge of and ability to use the language, including for instance guessing meaning of difficult words, deciding which words are important in a text, recognising differences between formal and informal language, and other strategies, so that as the first semester continues, you begin to feel more confident in your use and experience with the English Language.

Academic Skills Foundation

When you begin your undergraduate level studies, you will be expected to have knowledge of and ability to use a large range of 'study skills'. You will also be expected to have some knowledge of the subject area you will  be studying. This unit deals with both of these aspects of your preparation for undergraduate level study. 

All of the academic skills are practised in English, so you will use your developing acquisition of the language from the partner unit 'English Language Foundation' to practise and gain mastery of these skills. You will also use your language and study skills as you learn the foundation of your subject area, putting the skills into practice as you learn.

Developing English Language Skills

This unit builds on the progress you made during its partner semester 1 unit 'English Language Foundation' and increasing your level from that which you had achieved by the end of semester 1. 

We will recycle the tense system in English and other elements of the grammar system, but you will  now learn how to use other aspects of the grammar, including the passive voice, as well as linking words and phrases and devices which enable you to write longer sentences but retain grammatical accuracy. 

You will notice that we gradually introduce more specialist language that you need in preparation for your degree and we will expect you to use and develop the skills that you gained in the previous units so that you are able to work more independently.

Academic Skills Development

This unit builds on the skills learnt and practised in its partner semester 1 unit 'Foundation Academic Skills'. We will add more skills to the list, including summarizing and synthesising, argumentation, critical thinking and referencing and citation skills, as well as several others and practise and test them in the same way as with the semester 1 unit.

We will also investigate the research skill and you will learn how to prepare a research proposal and conduct a literature review, and how to plan a research project, learning about the research tools available and how they can be used to conduct research in your chosen field. 

You will continue to broaden your knowledge of key current issues and theory in your chosen subject area, and apply the critical thinking and argumentation skills you acquire in this unit to argue for and against propositions you have studied in the form of in both essays and presentations and in seminar situations, ensuring that you are ready to step up to your chosen undergraduate course with a base level of subject area knowledge from which to continue your academic development as you progress to level 4 study.

The Sociology Of Modern Britain

What makes modern Britain what it is? What are the events, institutions, laws and people that define the nation and how does it all work in tandem? How does history shape the present, and how do the forces of politics, economics, social life, culture and the state combine to bond us together or tear us apart?Based on a mixture of political, economic and social history, socio-cultural movements and popular cultural consumption of the eras, this unit seeks to explain the complex variety of influences and forces that have shaped the identity of modern Britain. The lectures will explore eras and the events that defined them, keeping the focus on the UK and it’s social and economic make-up, conveying and questioning the impact of war, consumerism, cultural change and economic shocks, political revisionism and social reform, public reaction and consensus (tranquil or impatient), resistance and capitulations throughout the post-War era. Students will learn to understand the ‘now’ via a series of lectures that will seek to combine the academic content with robust, intellectual appraisal of film, audio and guest speakers (where possible) combined with a comprehensive, challenging and broad reading list, addressed weekly, based on understanding the era’s and their impact on the passage of history and the effect of social change. The Unit will have enough relevant, exciting and accessible content to suit all tastes and approaches to learning. The aims of the unit are to encourage students to appreciate the relationships between social, political and economic history in the post-WW2 era at an advanced level gaining a political, economic and ideological insight into the incremental development of social policy and social life embracing social change, social problems and the relationship to sociological issues.

Understanding Societies, Identities And Structures

The aim of this unit is for you to develop knowledge and critical understanding of substantive areas of contemporary society and acquire knowledge and critical understanding of competing accounts of the evolution of the discipline of sociology. The major traditions of modern sociological theory with initial focus on the work of the ‘founding fathers’ of sociology will commence. The unit moves to focus on 20th century theories such as various neo-Marxisms, symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, feminism and post-modernism. The unit will also explore patterns and processes of social divisions and inequality throughout human history and how they are formed, maintained and challenged. The unit thus includes the debates about the relative influences of biology, the economy and culture in relation to the concepts of social class, power, gender, patriarchy, ‘race’, ethnicity and racism and disability rights. The unit will provide students with a critical understanding of the relationships between sociological theory, social structures and social identities.

Social Change With Communities: The Un Sustainable Development Goals

There have been significant shifts in the 21st century in the ways in which we live, work, and think, and in our values, moral identities and in ethical relationships between individuals and societies. These shifts have been driven by an increasingly ambiguous and uncertain world, characterised by a number of pressing challenges and opportunities that are facing humanity and the natural world and impacting global and local communities. On the one hand the world is facing profound existential, social, cultural, economic and ecological challenges, known as global mega- trends. These include trends such as the climate emergency and environmental exploitation and injustices, the rise of fascism and authoritarian nationalism, xenophobia, racial injustice, othering and hate crime, war, threats to peace and mass displacement, poverty, inequality and ‘profit before people’ economies, food insecurity, precarious work and exploitation in supply chains, slavery and trafficking, global violence towards women and girls, and the human rights violations of indigenous peoples, to name but a few.  On the other hand, we see positive community, national and global action towards change and system accountability and challenges in the form of protest and demand for platforms,,in the work of charities, social and community purpose organisations, and in policy and governance at international, national and local levels.  

Moreover, whilst still inequitable, we see increasing diversity and inclusion in responses to and ownership of many global and local challenges, such as in the Black Lives Matters, Metoo, youth climate and indigenous movements, amongst others, and this is happening alongside hope for transformative change through problem focused collective action, community solutions,and the power of voice. It is within this context that this unit will be delivered. The unit aims to equip students to live a more examined and empowered life, supporting them towards civic engagement, and civic and value-based leadership. It aims to provide students with the knowledge, theory, skills, tools, ideas and networks necessary to identify and design areas for social action that are responsive to global challenges,  and at the same time, are tailored to the needs and interests of the community in Luton, the communities where students live, and emphasising the value of place-based knowledge.  

The United Nation’s 2030 Agenda identifies the key global challenges that are facing local communities in the form of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). As such, the SDG’s will form the framework of social action for this unit.  Whilst these are an international framework for action, much of their emphasis is on the need for a plurality of knowledges, and on the significance of local knowledge in addressing the challenges the world faces. 

In keeping with the ‘local solutions’ approach of the UN’s 2030 agenda,  this unit will ensure that its content and approach reflects the diversity of the histories, narratives and experiences of our students, the community of Luton, and the community’s in which students live in. 

The unit aims to focus on ideas and innovation and on systemic, community, human level insight and a pedagogy of validation and transformation, rather than on the actual delivery of the ideas or on project management / skills. It aims to empower students through self –awareness, self- development and leadership activities, nurturing their personal and social confidence, courage and purpose as agents of co-creation and change. To support an understanding of community based learning and change, students will be supported through the Sustainability Forum, to be linked in with community mentors and community organisations and these relationships will form an integral part of the learning for this unit.  

Introduction To Research And Social Enquiry

The unit will prepare you for degree level study by promoting your understanding of how and why we carry out research in the social sciences. The unit seeks to introduce you to some of the methodological debates and social theories which inform and underpin social investigation and to link those debates to different approaches in social research. You will consider topics such as ‘the nature of society’, its essential characteristics, and on that basis how best to go about investigating social life. Firstly, we will consider the issue of social investigation and science Secondly, we will examine specific areas of social life, such as crime/education/immigration/health status- in order to illustrate how answers to the questions raised in part one will tend to shape approaches to social research. We will also discuss relevant research procedures, in particular those associated with "positivism" and with "anti-positivism" or ethnography.  We will introduce alternative views - those of critical theory and post-modernism - which have a bearing on social enquiry. Thirdly you will gain an understanding of quantitative and qualitative research procedures and their methodological implications.

Whilst studying the above topics you will be developing your academic writing skills, learning how to construct your written work and learn how to source and correctly reference relevant research/academic material such as; journal articles, policy papers, official statistics and books. This will be excellent preparatory work for all your assessments and especially the level 5 Research Approaches unit.

The assessment strategies are designed to help you to develop the academic skills required of higher education and to further develop your understanding of what it means to ‘study society’.

Career Planning For Social Scientists

This unit recognises the investment made by SASS students in coming to university to study a degree and is designed to begin the conversation about possible graduate destinations. It will also provide a lens through which the opportunities within your degree can contribute to your aspiration and the achievement of your graduate goal and by embedding Personal Development Planning as integral  to your future success


Within a student’s career journey, it is important to undertake activities that allow for the understanding of personal values, strengths, and developing a realistic vocational or employment self-concept. This unit will introduce these frameworks and enable you to consider your career planning in an informative and structured approach as you continue through your studies by recognising and most importantly, valuing, your lived experience. 


This unit aims to:

·       To give  students an opportunity to begin plotting their personal development journey over their three year degree course 

·       Provide career development  interventions to assist students’ ability to identify their transferrable skills and articulate their experience, skills and attributes in a confident, meaningful and positive manner.

Introducing Academic Skills

Constructive oral and written communication, and the effective and ethical management and presentation of knowledge and information, are essential for both academic work at degree level and your professional practice. This unit will enable you to develop your understanding of the skills and conventions of academic study in higher education and within your discipline, and recognise their transferability to and relevance for your work with service users and professional colleagues. You will be encouraged to identify your own academic strengths, areas for development, and strategies to support your academic growth.

By the end of the unit the students will have gained an understanding of key academic skills such as assessment planning, how to effectively use BREO, searching for and sourcing academic material, learning to reference and how to construct essays, presentations and consideration of the differences between academic work and professional report writing.

Identity Inequality And Difference

This unit aims to provide students with a critical understanding of structures and conceptualisations of identity, inequality, ‘race', and difference and their role and impact on societies over time. In terms of its relevance, the unit grounds students with an understanding of the important role of ‘race’, identity, inequality, ethnicity and difference in contemporary UK society and in an increasingly multicultural and globalised world and its implications for practice both in the UK and internationally. It also provides students the opportunity to critically reflect on and apply their acquired learning to both personal and professional contexts and to their engagement with other units within the social sciences. 

Comparative Welfare State Politics

The unit aims to answer the question: who provides support, welfare and care to differing groups both in the UK and other countries?  

This unit is designed to serve as an introduction to the identification and analysis of ideologies, concepts and theoretical perspectives surrounding the mixed economy of welfare and the role of the state in capitalist and developing societies. By focusing on the concrete examples of ‘poverty’ and ‘need’, the unit explores the process of the ideological, historical and social construction of social problems and policy responses to them. The unit draws on your level four learning on units such as Introduction to Sociology of Health; Introduction to Research and Social Enquiry and Social Change with Communities. It will provide you with an overview of past, present and possible future welfare responses to meeting individual and group needs and the ideologies that inform them, both in the UK and internationally.

This unit seeks to equip you with an understanding of key comparative models and debates. It will also give you the opportunity to develop and practise the skill of comparative analysis. A case study approach is adopted to illustrate the application of theory to practice. The ability to compare welfare systems temporally and spatially is a marker for graduateness in Social Policy.

Mental Health And Society

This unit will introduce students to the main sociological and psychiatric perspectives on mental health and illness.  The role of the mental health professions and the changing role of psychiatry will be studied. Students will also study the social patterning of mental health and illness, and consider variations according to age, gender, social class and ethnicity.  Attention will also be paid to those experiencing mental illness, and the role and influence of representative user groups. The unit aims to show how our knowledge and understanding of mental illness have changed over time, as well as indicate the problematic nature of the definition of mental illness.
Attention will also be paid to the experiences of sufferers of mental illness, and the influence of user groups on mental health policy and legislation will be critically analysed. The unit will also focus on treatment and recovery and mental illness and differing social groups, for example, people with a serious mental illness, young people, prisoners, and people with a dual diagnosis.

Refugees, Displacement And The Politics Of Migration

Voluntary and forced migration of people across the globe is an enduring theme of human history. International migration is also a key dynamic of contemporary globalisation. Some authors have suggested that we now live in an ‘age of migration’ and that this is a defining characteristic of the twenty-first century. This unit addresses fundamental questions about the voluntary or forced contexts of contemporary migration. The unit focusses on the forced displacement and migration of people across the globe. It will look at why the protection of forced migrants is critical in the twenty- first century; what are the legal, policy-based and human rights issues involved; where are the world’s forced migrants; and how do forced migrants find belonging and recreate their worlds in the face of increasingly restrictive policy and practice. Throughout the unit, contemporary forced migration is examined and students are introduced to the complexities involved. This will include looking at protection available for internally displaced people, the international system for refugee protection, human trafficking, the shrinking space for asylum in the UK and what happens to separated children seeking sanctuary in the UK. The unit is theoretically and empirically grounded, necessarily focussing on inter- disciplinary research that is topical and relevant. The unit also addresses the practical and ethical implications of working with displaced populations.

The Social Sciences At Work

The graduate job market is a highly competitive arena. As such, it is essential for students preparing for graduate employment to have a realistic awareness of, the ways in which the professional work place operates and the skills, knowledge and experiences that are expected and desirable for their passport and successful transition into graduate level employment. This unit builds upon the Level 4 unit which requires students to have begun their thinking about their intended graduate destination and undertaken a level of career development planning at the end of their first year. 


During this unit, students will undertake work based opportunities with an organisation or service that is appropriate to their degree subject.  The expected length of time for this placement is a minimum of 15 hours.

Students will engage with personal development planning, to reflect on their own development as a professional and to gain insight into the breadth and complexity of graduate professional roles. They will be encouraged to complete the Bedfordshire for Success award as they progress through the unit by engaging with the Careers and Employability Service in the development of their individual career readiness.

Culture, Media And Society

In an age of mass communication the study of culture and cultures has arguably never been so important.  The democratising influence of the modern media and ubiquitous internet has opened up to all previously well-governed, safeguarded channels of cultural delivery; making ‘everyone’ potentially a writer, pop star, expert, TV personality, and celebrity.  Beyond this cacophony of cultural and media presence is a continuing dialogue, a narrative of cultural distinction that dates back to Mathew Arnold, via Williams, Althusser, Gramsci and Barthes and continues onwards with Kristeva, Baudrillard, Debord and the poststructuralists.  Popular culture is increasingly important in the everyday lives of people at both global and local levels and this unit will provide students with a critical understanding of the ways that social theorists and researchers have interpreted the significance of a wide range of topics of study in the sociology of popular culture, the sociology or art and literature, music and aesthetics. It will explore the thin boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘popular’ culture and give students the opportunity to acquire an insight into these concepts by applying sociological theories to specific contemporary examples.  


The Unit will deliver a theoretical base before building thematic studies upon such theory, applying it to the various foci of sport, fine art, television, poetry, literature and music.  All areas will be linked to an understanding of cultural form (and its origins) and the everyday, exploring use, aesthetic, history and consumption.  This is, in effect, a detailed introduction to Cultural Studies that utilises everyday subject, visual and audio stimuli and explores the artefacts and impact of cultural narratives in our diverse and changing society.  


This Core Unit builds upon aspects of previously studied units (such as ASS067-1 Sociology of Modern Britain) and acts as a foundation for final year study in the cultural studies pathway as well as providing crucial context to other units in the Social Studies portfolio.

Research 1: Collecting Data

The unit will equip you with the key skills to be an independent researcher in the social sciences. You will develop an understanding of qualitative and quantitative data, different methods of collecting data and sources of collected data. This unit builds on the Level 4 Introduction to Research and Social Inquiry, which introduced some methodological debates and social theories, which inform and underpin social investigation.

You will learn about the different methods of collecting data and the importance of choosing a suitable method for data collection in social research. These aspects will be covered during lectures and workshops where you will have the opportunity to practice this knowledge.

The skills you will acquire from this unit are transferable and will be a useful asset to have for another Level 5 research unit, Research: Exploring data.

This unit will prepare you for the final year independent project unit at Level 6 as it allows you to familiarise yourself with the different methods for collecting data using both qualitative and quantitative research approaches.

Research 2: Exploring Data

The unit will equip you with the key research skills for social scientists relating to data interpretation and analysis. You will learn about different ways of exploring and analysing both quantitative and qualitative data during the lectures and gain practical experience of carrying out data analysis during the workshops.

  Building on the level four unit ‘Introduction to Research and Social Inquiry’, you will also enhance your knowledge and understanding of the entire process of a research project and individual steps involved in conducting research. You will be encouraged to consider why and how we analyse data and how the stage of data analysis fits within the whole research process. This unit is designed also to help you understand the use of theory in research and gives the opportunity to be involved in the exercise of identifying appropriate theories that can be utilised when creating your own research project.

This unit will prepare you for the final year project unit at level six. You will have developed the skills and knowledge required for you to confidently take forward your research idea, develop your proposal, carry out your chosen research methodology and create a worthwhile, structured and academically sound final year project.

Power In Political Thought

A key aim of this unit is for students to explore the role of power in explaining and shaping our social world. Interdisciplinary in scope, the unit provides vital knowledge and a set of practical, analytical skills designed to help students investigate and address key social issues and dilemmas. Power shapes our daily life in manifold ways and there are many different ways of understanding power: economic, political, cultural, interpersonal, derived from gendered or racial categories and more. Building upon the Level 4 units Sociology of Modern Britain, Understanding Society, Identities and Structures and Modern Political Thought and Governance this unit will provide a link between theory and practice through the concept “power” and cover a whole range of topics, including political behaviour, public policy, the economy, social justice, identity, culture and gender. The central question the unit explores is: how does power and inequality shape our lives and the world we live in?


The relevance of the unit is its focus on providing a conceptual understanding of a key social science concept and explored how this has been and can be applied to practical analysis. In particular, students will be asked to think conceptually about a range of contemporary social issues and to consistently revise and re-evaluate highly relevant questions which affect their day-to-day lives. The unit will look in detail at issues which students care about, with an emphasis on social justice, poverty, austerity, and the politics of gender and race. In keeping with the international focus of their degree, students will be asked to think about these issues not only in their own societies, but all over the world, including in historical societies and the Global South. The unit aims to give students the tools to think critically about the forces which shape their world and to begin to question how it can be changed.

Ideas And Issues In Globalization And Neoliberalism

The popularity of the terms ‘Globalisation’ and ‘Neoliberalism’ that are often found in the news media, signals a need for interrogation by anyone interested in how countries impact and influence social worlds.  Although Globalisation and Neoliberalism have become important dimensions of contemporary social life, what do these concepts really mean? How do they help us to understand social relationships that are intermeshed locally and internationally What are the social, political and economic consequences of their process and are these processes now in retreat? 

The terms are relevant to not only contemporary social science but the wider political, economic and social spaces where we are able to witness change and social justice in the world today

This unit takes a critical look at globalisation and neoliberalism and explores the key theoretical ideas involved in debates over its interpretation and different constructions. It also examines a range of issues thrown up by globalisation in different social settings and for different social groups, many of whom are marginalized by its processes.

The unit aims to interrogate a critical understanding of globalisation and neo liberalism as its driver, its key characteristics and the changes it is causing in social, political, cultural and economic areas. The central question it addresses is: why has globalisation become one of the most pre-eminent phenomena in shaping the world today and what does neo liberalism have to do with it? Its relevance to the Applied Social Studies degree course as a whole is profound, not least in the way global processes and structures impact on the lives of different social groups all over the world. The currency of the unit syllabus is focused on the conceptual and empirical dimensions of globalization and neoliberalism studies in contemporary social science. For instance, the theoretical and policy debates, concepts and evidence used in conceptualising globalisation. You will be able to carry out your own evaluations of the different perspectives taken in the debates that surround key concepts. The syllabus is based on recent and ongoing research within the School of Applied Social Studies at the University, in areas such as global activism migration and refugees and the trafficking of children, amongst several others.

Climate Change: The Sociology Of Loss And Survival

Writing about climate change and society, prominent sociologist, John Urry (2011) writes this: 


“Now we are in a new epoch in the new century, the world looks different, and issues of resource depletion, contestation and collapse will haunt it – and more parochially, sociology – in some potentially catastrophic decades to come.” 


This quote sits within a context where the world is facing a climate and global biodiversity emergency. This has happened as a result of the ‘frenzy of economism’ and the dominant and powerful philosophy of materialism. Both have resulted in many human societies separating themselves from their ecology and not seeing / experiencing themselves as part of nature but rather “as an outside force destined to dominate and conquer it.” (Schumacher, 1973). We are living in world that is one degree warmer than that experienced by our parents and grandparents (Lynas, 2020) because of our fossil fuel dependence within this world capitalist economy and there is an urgent need to stall global temperature rises in order to protect people and cultures, and many natural global ecosystems such as the rainforests, coral reefs and oceans, from further stress and potential collapse, chaos and destruction (IPCC, 2015; UN Paris Agreement, 2015).  


Many indigenous cultures are closely dependent upon and have a reciprocal relationship with their natural environment for resources and for the sustainability of their cultural practices and traditions.  Whilst all cultures face an existential threat as a result of this global environmental emergency, such as the risks posed around poverty, food security, and human health and well-being, it is indigenous cultures and peoples who are the first to experience the serious consequences of it.  Despite their minimal contribution to climate change and the destruction of bio-diversity systems, their political and economic vulnerabilities are amplified by the crisis, and their well-being, cultures, traditions and livelihoods face extinction. 


Given all this, how can sociology and the social sciences more broadly understand and respond to this epoch-making form of social and environmental loss, survival and climate change? How can it respond to the uneven impact on indigenous cultures, how can it do this in a way that prioritises local and indigenous knowledges, experiences, voices and solutions and justice, and finally, how can it do this in a way that acknowledges colonial ecological violence, in a move away from the colonial mentality that sits in many sociological texts, and that turns towards indigenous sociology for exploring ecological resilience and social and futures impact.  This unit addresses these big questions by critically examining them within the following framework:  

·      the materiality of loss and survival, 

·      the politics of loss and survival, 

·      the knowledge, theory, philosophy and cosmology of loss, and survival, 

·      the practices, voices and emotions of loss and survival

·      the (in) justice of loss and survival. 

The framework above speaks to many of the substantive themes addressed in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and students will return to this framework from their level 4 studies, as an anchor point for this unit. 

Sass Change Maker Project Dissertation

This capstone experience provides students with an opportunity to join a community-based organisation and deliver a project that will encourage students to be reflexive about their role in social worlds relevant to their discipline.  They will develop skills through relevant partner training as well as project management, research and presentation skills which will make a positive impact to service users or the organisation/community more widely. In particular, the intention will be to create change and address inequality by responding to identified needs and promoting social justice.


By undertaking this unit you will have an opportunity to negotiate, plan, execute and evaluate your work, whilst monitoring your personal development against an agreed Personal Development Plan (PDP) in order to hone your employability skills. 


In order to complete this unit successfully, students will need to have presented a Project Proposal which receives approval as assessment 1 before the project is undertaken. Alongside this, the Student-Sponsor Agreement (including the agreed final method of assessment and evidencing a clear risk mitigation strategy) and the Personal Development plan are required at the end of the first 6 weeks. 

Arts, Activism And Social Change

Individuals and groups of people as well as state institutions and non-state actors have been using arts and activism as a tool to promote social change and fight for more just societies for centuries. In today’s polarised and increasingly unequal world, alternative and creative forms of social activism are again gaining momentum both in the UK and globally. In Luton, for instance, the Hat Factory Arts Centre disseminates socially engaged practice based work on several issues such as violence against women, imprisonment, healthcare and social prescription. Internationally, examples include the use of performance in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and in post-genocide Rwanda. Other contemporary examples include urban street art, flash mobs etc. by artists and citizens concerned with social justice around the world. 

The unit’s aim is to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the central role that arts and activism play in society. In this sense, the unit will focus on concepts and approaches to using art and activism to promote social change locally and across the globe. It will look at the use of arts and activism both in historical perspective and in terms of its contemporary relevance. In particular, the unit will ask why and how people have been drawing on creative forms to promote social change and what the outcomes have been. It will look at a range of actors (e.g. social groups, service users and professionals) involved in promoting such approaches, look at the benefits of participating in socially engaged practice for social change and at the practical, social and ethical challenges they face. 

These projects serve as a rich source of knowledge for SASS professional pathways. In the context of this unit, students will therefore explore how interdisciplinary practice works and they will be given the unique opportunity to gain access and analyse the social narratives embedded within projects relevant to their area of specialism. The unit will be guided by a teaching approach that is based on culturally inclusive and sustainable pedagogy and a commitment to decolonising the curriculum including with regard to accepting and fostering various forms of learning and teaching. 

In this sense, in addition to the theoretical foundations, live projects, performances, films, exhibitions and documentaries will provide the empirical sources for the unit. The unit leads will also draw on existing contacts and connections to practitioners in Luton, Bedfordshire and London in order to facilitate sight visits and guest lectures. 

Another central component of the unit will be the teaching of transferrable skills (e.g. project planning, management and evaluation) aimed at enabling students to plan and implement creative projects themselves, enhancing their employability and practical skill set.

Sass Change Maker Research Dissertation

The aim of the unit is to consolidate and apply the knowledge gained from the previous years by demonstrating the ability to make sense of potentially complex and possibly contradictory findings and apply them to an area or issue related to your subject discipline. The Research Dissertation will allow you to examine contemporary social contexts and issues by applying subject-specific knowledge, theory and appropriate methodologies to the analysis of your chosen topic and consider how your work can contribute to the promotion of social justice. This requires the capability to inquire into complex issues systematically and critically and thus allows you to move from critical acceptance of knowledge to the critical constructor of that very knowledge and its broader application in society.

The Research Dissertation gives you an opportunity to develop a research proposal, consider the ethical implications of your project and to undertake an in-depth focused research enquiry relevant to your course and to your individual personal and professional interests and career intentions. It will take the form of either of the following: 

·       Primary research

·       Substantive literature review

·       Desktop research - secondary analysis project that addresses a proposition you wish to analyse in-depth

·       Content Analysis of policy documents, print media, social media, TV and/or film 

·       A Discourse Analysis 

The unit is additionally designed in part fulfilment of the University’s requirements for all award courses to provide opportunities for you to develop your personal development planning skills and evidence your abilities in independent learning. The predominant aim is to offer you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to complete a sustained piece of individual research on an appropriate topic in ways that also enhance your personal and professional development skills and that can be relatable to your future employment. 

In order to complete this unit successfully, students will need to have presented a Research Proposal which receives approval as assessment 1, before any research commences.

You will undertake this project under supervision in order to maximise the opportunity to fulfil your potential in these areas.   

Work And Welfare In The 21St Century

Why do we have to work? What is the relationship between the work we do and the social benefits we receive? Who is included in welfare systems and who is excluded? Why? How will work and welfare change in the 21st Century? 


These questions inform the key themes of this unit which explores the relationship between work, welfare and our daily lives. Covering all of the main areas of welfare: health and social care, education, housing and pensions, students are asked to think about the relationship between the (global) economy and their own lives. The unit draws together themes which students will be familiar with from Levels 4 and 5, especially welfare, migration and inequality, but asks students to think about these in new and different ways with a particular emphasis on identifying and explaining structural causes.

Human Rights And Global Governance

The aim of this module is to introduce students to what is an emerging field in sociology. Human rights within the disciplines of law, politics and philosophy are well-established. There is, however, far less on human rights explicitly in the field of sociology. This module examines the role for sociology in understanding human rights and the role of sociology within the inter-disciplinary field of human rights and human rights theory and practice.   The growing interest in the idea of human rights within sociology is a reflection of the increasing prominence of human rights in political discourse in recent years as well as the need for inter-disciplinarity to address global and local challenges within a human rights frame. Yet, the idea of human rights has a long pre-history, even if that pre-history is much debated within human rights scholarship as a continuous or discontinuous enterprise. 


This unit aims to develop students’ critical knowledge of the origins, development and future of the international human rights framework. It further aims to critically engage students in contemporary political and theoretical sociological knowledge, such as globalisation, citizenship, global capitalism, nationhood, statehood, borders and identities, post-colonialism, etc, to deepen their understanding of human rights abuses and solutions. The unit further engages with sociology to reflect on the relationship between human rights and social structures / processes, and in this respect whether human rights are the solution or the problem amidst global and local human suffering.  


Using thematic case studies, the unit will introduce students to some of the most pressing human rights issues of our time and students will be asked to reflect on the value of human rights, human rights institutions,  NGO networks and domestic constitutions and processes for the redress of abuses. 


Overall, the unit will encourage students to reflect on the complex identity of human rights and human rights practices and fields, and all their promises and problems. The unit will draw on current literature and research, teaching from people with first-hand experience of human rights violations and human rights redress and activism across different global contexts, and It will also draw from the international research that characterises the research institutes in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences.  

Professional Practice Year (Applied Social Studies)

Increasingly, employers look for graduates who can evidence experience in work settings of relevance to the industry/organisations they want to join. This year-long unit aims to provide you with the opportunity to gain formally recognised and appropriate work based learning. It will allow you to develop your employability skills and reflect on your personal and professional development as part of a four-year degree course. The experience of work that you gain can be applied in your final year of study and will enable you to plan appropriately for a suitable graduate destination

How will you be assessed?

The assessment methods used across the course include:

  • Written assignments - these vary from essays and reports to more in-depth research work on broader topics
  • Examinations: These are a range of multiple-choice computer examinations through to in-class tests and essay-based exams in your final year
  • Oral presentations and Poster presentations that demonstrate verbal and presentational skills in communicating information to others
  • Group work allowing you to demonstrate skills of group research while allowing you to submit a piece of assessed individual work at the same time as your contribution to the group
  • The Dissertation allowing you to undertake a complex research project and communicate knowledge findings and recommendations in your final year on the course thus showing your capacity to address a complex self-directed task

The assessments will develop incrementally across the course and allow you to gain skills confidence and knowledge receive feedback and grow thus allowing you to implement this knowledge and feedback in subsequent assessments. Along the way you will develop capacity for writing in your own words and style of expression at the higher level. At the end of the course completion of the assessments you will demonstrate an ability to analyse current social science knowledge and communicate this in both written and presentational formats as well as demonstrate a range of transferable skills that are highly relevant to professional employability in a variety of sectors


Employability is built into the curriculum from the first day you arrive on campus and our students have gone on to a variety of roles including:

  • Care sector management roles
  • Social enterprises NGOs and the third sector
  • Local government officers
  • HR and recruitment

You may also want to take up the opportunity for further study including MA/MSc in Social Work and Social Policy as well as PGCE (teacher training).

Entry Requirements

Fees for this course

UK 2024/25

The full-time standard undergraduate tuition fee for the Academic Year 2024/25 is £9,250 per year. You can apply for a loan from the Government to help pay for your tuition fees. You can also apply for a maintenance loan from the Government to help cover your living costs. See

Merit Scholarship

We offer a Merit Scholarship to UK students, worth £2,400* over three academic years, which is awarded to those who can demonstrate a high level of academic achievement, through scoring 120 UCAS tariff points or more.

Bedfordshire Bursary

If you aren’t eligible for the Merit Scholarship, this Bursary is there to help UK students with aspects of student living such as course costs. The Bursary will give you £1,000* over three academic years, or £1,300* if you are taking your course over four academic years (including those with a Foundation Year).

Full terms and conditions can be found here.

Alternatively if you have any questions around fees and funding please email


The full-time standard undergraduate tuition fee for the academic year 2024/25 is £15,500 per year.

There are range of Scholarships available to help support you through your studies with us.

A full list of scholarships can be found here.

Alternatively if you have any questions around fees and funding, please email

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