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Social Policy

Be a force for change. Study Social Policy at Waikato and develop a critical understanding of how policy-making impacts on every person, regardless of their age, ethnicity or gender – then learn how to influence it.

Studying Social Policy involves examining the issues that affect people and society. It analyses the policies and practices of politicians, public servants, governments and non-governmental agencies, and how they impact on communities and wider society. It takes a broad and encompassing approach, because social policy impacts on all parts of everyday life – from health and education to families, transport and housing, plus the systems and institutions that support them.

Your Social Policy studies at Waikato will cover why and how societies respond to problems such as poverty and unemployment. You'll take part in popular and recurring social policy debates, and gain an in-depth understanding of why social problems arise. You'll investigate and evaluate different ways of responding to those problems.

At the end of your studies, you'll be equipped to seek employment opportunities within government agencies, non-government organisations, tertiary education institutions, voluntary and community agencies, and groups advocating for social equity and change.

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Key information

Study Locations:Hamilton, Tauranga, Online
Papers offered differ by location. The Catalogue of Papers has full location info.

Career opportunities

  • Advocate
  • Case Manager
  • Community Worker
  • Policy Analyst
  • Researcher

Prescriptions for the GradCert(SocPol) and GradDip(SocPol)

A Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma are available to graduates who have not included Social Policy at an advanced level in their first degree. Each programme of study for the Graduate Certificate must include SOCPY200 and SOCPY300. Each programme of study for the Graduate Diploma must include SOCPY200, SOCPY300, SOCPY304 and 40 further points at 300 level in Social Policy.

For further details, contact the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Office.

Prescriptions for the PGCert(SocPol), PGDip(SocPol) and BSocSc(Hons) and MSocSc

To be eligible to be considered for enrolment in a BSocSc(Hons) in Social Policy, a student should normally have at least a B average in SOCPY300 and two other 300 level papers. Students who do not meet this requirement should discuss their proposed programme of study with the Programme Convenor prior to confirming their enrolment.

To complete a BSocSc(Hons) in Social Policy, students must gain 120 points at 500 level, including at least 30 points in research (normally SOCPY591), SOCPY506, SOCPY508, and SOCIO502.

To be eligible to be considered for enrolment in the MSocSc in Social Policy, a student should have completed either:

a) a BSocSc with a major in Social Policy (or equivalent) with at least a B grade average across the 300 level papers, or for a qualification considered by the Academic Board, or

b) a BSocSc(Hons) in Social Policy (or equivalent) with at least second class honours (second division).

Completion requirements for the MSocSc in Social Policy vary according to admission criteria:

Students admitted under a) above must complete 180 points from approved 500 level papers, including SOCPY506, SOCPY508, SOCIO502, one of SSRES503 or SSRES504 and either a 120 point thesis, a 90 point thesis or a 60 point dissertation.

Students admitted under b) above must complete a 120 point thesis, a 90 point thesis and a further 30 points from approved 500 level papers, or a 60 point dissertation and a further 60 points from approved 500 level papers.

To be considered for enrolment in a dissertation or thesis, all students must have completed at least 60 points from approved 500 level papers and have gained at least a B+ average to be admitted to SOCPY592 or SOCPY593 and at least an A- average to be admitted to SOCPY594.

Prescriptions for the PhD

The Doctor of Philosophy is a three year research-based degree in which students undertake a programme of approved and supervised research that leads to a thesis which critically investigates an approved topic of substance and significance, demonstrates expertise in the methods of research and scholarship, displays intellectual independence and makes a substantial original contribution to the subject area concerned, and is of publishable quality.

100 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
ARTSC110Old Worlds - New Worlds19A (Hamilton) & 19A (Tauranga)
This cross-disciplinary paper offers students with a rich background for study within the Bachelor of Arts. It is structured around metaphors of journey and cultural encounter and focuses on a variety of texts, images and sounds.
ARTSC111Social Science Theory and Action19A (Hamilton) & 19A (Tauranga)
This paper introduces University of Waikato social scientists as researchers. Each presenter's research will be discussed to demonstrate how it illustrates key themes of the social sciences and their specific disciplines.
EDSOC101The New Zealand Educational Context19B (Hamilton), 19B (Online) & 19B (Tauranga)
The paper addresses the educational policies, ideas and processes shaping the educational contexts within which New Zealanders learn and teach.
MAORI150Te Tiriti o Waitangi: An Introduction to the Treaty of Waitangi19A (Tauranga) & 19B (Hamilton)
This paper seeks to provide a sound understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It reviews historical and contemporary interpretations and takes into account the interplay of contextual issues of the time.
POLSC102New Zealand Politics and Policy19A (Tauranga) & 19B (Hamilton)
This paper provides a foundation for the study of political science and public policy, with a particular focus on the study of government, politics and policy in New Zealand.
SOCIO101Introduction to Sociology19B (Hamilton) & 19B (Tauranga)
This paper prepares students for further study in a range of social science subjects. It introduces the main sociological theories, concepts and practices that enable an understanding of contemporary societies.
SOCPY100Introduction to Social Policy19A (Hamilton) & 19A (Tauranga)
This paper examines the values behind social policy and introduces students to some of the important issues and debates in New Zealand and other democratic societies.
WKEMP100Work, Employment and Society19B (Hamilton)
The purpose of this paper is to focus on the interdisciplinary account of the changing forms and social contexts of work from ancient times to the present and beyond.

200 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
EDSOC200Education and New Zealand Society19A (Hamilton)
This paper critically examines educational ideas and practices by considering philosophical, historical, political, socio-cultural and economic aspects. It examines how the interrelationships between education and society change over time.
POLCY212Power, Politics and Policy Analysis19B (Hamilton)
This paper introduces students to public policy analysis. Students focus on the role of politics, public participation and policy in addressing society's big problems, how they are framed and defined, and how solutions are developed and implemented within the context of the policy process.
POPST201Population Studies19A (Hamilton) & 19A (Online)
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the multidisciplinary field of Population Studies. Students will develop a sound understanding of the demographic drivers of population change and composition, while exploring some of the rich theories and methodological approaches which comprise Population Studies.
SOCPY200Social Policy and Social Issues19A (Hamilton), 19A (Tauranga), 19B (Hamilton) & 19B (Tauranga)
The paper continues the study of social policy at 200 level. The focus of this paper is on the welfare state, the policy cycle as well as social problems, such as poverty.
SOCPY201Social Policy, Families and Children19A (Hamilton), 19A (Tauranga), 19B (Hamilton) & 19B (Tauranga)
This paper further develops students' theoretical understanding of social policy, while focusing specifically on policy related to families and children, providing insight into the relationships between policy and lived experience.
SOCWK205Community Development19A (Tauranga)
This paper critically explores the evolution, dimensions and practice of community development in Aoteoroa New Zealand including Maori development. It also focuses on the strategies, skills and tools necessary for community development practice.
WKEMP201Employment Relations in New Zealand19A (Hamilton)
This paper examines the employment relations legislation and its impact on employers, unions and workers. Other issues considered include occupational health and safety, industrial training and practice of employment relations

300 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
ECONS307Economics of Land, Water and Environment19A (Hamilton)
This paper provides students with a detailed understanding of the role of economic analysis in solving real world environmental problems including pollution, sustainable development, resource scarcity, and climate change.
EDSOC300Maori Knowledge and Western Impacts in Education19A (Online) & 19A (Tauranga)
This paper explores comparisons between key Western and Maori philosophies. It considers how Maori and Western philosophies respectively describe the self's relationship with thought and knowledge in the context of education.
GNSEX303Intersectionalities: Identities and Inequalities19B (Hamilton)
This paper provides a comprehensive review of the historical context for understanding contemporary issues of race, gender, sexuality, and social class. It investigates micro and macro level experiences and the social construction of identities. In doing so, this paper looks at how power is distributed in society, the theories that...
HMDEV300Children's Development in Families19A (Online)
This paper examines the development of children within family and community contexts. Contemporary issues will be investigated with an emphasis on theory and research and their impact on policy and practice.
POLCY318Global Environmental Politics and Policy19A (Hamilton)
This paper explores contemporary debates on environmental politics, sustainability, justice, and environmental governance. It examines the political processes underpinning the search for cooperative solutions to environmental dilemmas, including climate change.
POPST302Exploring Population Change19B (Hamilton) & 19B (Online)
This paper applies methods for measuring population size, composition and change, which are used extensively for understanding population issues in public policy, human resource planning, forecasting and business planning.
SOCIO301Contemporary Social Theory: A Praxis Approach19A (Hamilton), 19A (Tauranga), 19B (Hamilton) & 19B (Tauranga)
This paper introduces students to contemporary debates in social theory from a praxis perspective. Particular attention is paid to theories of individualisation and class in relation to contemporary forms of capitalist society.
SOCIO311Current Issues in Criminal Justice19B (Online)
This paper examines sociological explanations for criminal behaviour and examines issues within criminal justice.
SOCPY300Social Policy19B (Hamilton) & 19B (Tauranga)
This paper provides students with experience of the ways in which policy is formulated and enacted. Theoretical perspectives are consolidated and extended to enhance opportunities for employment in the social policy field.
SOCPY301Health, Wellbeing and Policy19B (Hamilton)
This paper provides a critical introduction to key issues in the formation of health policy at both a national and international level.
SOCPY390Directed Study19A (Hamilton), 19B (Hamilton), 19S (Hamilton), 19T (Hamilton) & 19Y (Hamilton)
This paper provides students with a flexible opportunity to undertake investigation of a specific topic from a social policy perspective.
WKEMP300Education, Skill and Employment19A (Hamilton) & 19A (Online)
The purpose of this paper is to focus on policy and practice in the field of paid work, education and training. This encapsulates tertiary education a field that includes: adult and community education; higher education; vocational education and training; human resource development; and workplace learning.

500 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
EDSOC501Education Policy and Society19A (Hamilton)
This paper provides students with the opportunity to examine the work of Michel Foucault and the influences upon his thinking.
POLSC501Policy Analysis: Theory and Practice19A (Hamilton)
This paper introduces students to the fundamentals of policy analysis, and develops skills for higher-level research in public policy. A key focus is developing critical awareness of policy processes, of the drivers of change, and of the role of both 'evidence' and public participation in policy-making, in the pursuit of inclusive ...
POLSC537Environmental Politics and Public Policy19A (Hamilton)
This paper introduces students to the complexities and challenges of environmental policy processes, and develops skills in scholarly research on environmental policy making. A significant focus of the paper is on analysing and understanding the complex intersections of institutions, culture, science and technology, and systems of ...
POPST507Critical Demography19A (Hamilton)
This paper introduces students to critical demography as a field that marries social science theory with quantitative and qualitative methods to understand demographic phenomena. Lectures and in-class discussion will focus on weekly readings drawn from Aotearoa/NZ and internationally. Study topics include population categories and ...
POPST508Population Health and Equity19B (Hamilton)
This paper explores population health within particular communities, emphasising the broader determinants of population health and social equity. It introduces students to aspects of epidemiology, considers demographic and social science perspectives, and explores the relationship between health, community and society. It examines ...
PSYCH511Evaluation Research Design19A (Hamilton)
This paper provides a theoretical grounding in programme evaluation, with an emphasis on the evaluation of programmes in the not-for-profit sector. Emphasis is placed on qualitative methods, collaborative approaches and evaluation as a strategy of incremental social change.
PSYCH513Evaluation Research Analysis19C (Block)
This paper provides an introduction to evaluation praxis with a major focus on completing a small scale evaluation of a social service or health programme. Such roles as consultant, advocate, liaison and technician are part of the skills students experience. Engagement with the client through refining and negotiating an evaluation ...
SOCIO502Society, Economy and State19A (Hamilton)
This paper brings Sociological theory and Social Policy practice together in a paper that is grounded in a praxis approach. Students will be expected to think critically and deeply about the nature and dynamic of structures and regulatory frameworks of contemporary capitalism, and to think actively about how social change occurs.
SOCIO503Comparative Criminology19A (Hamilton)
This paper surveys criminological theory from a sociological perspective and uses examples of criminological research to develop a critical awareness of New Zealand issues and policies related to criminal behaviour.
SOCIO505Globalisation and Social Movements19A (Hamilton)
Within the context of an analysis of the neoliberal policy framework and global capitalism; this half paper focuses on the merging social movements of the 21st century. Initial focus will be placed on the anti-globalisation movement, but in the context of a range of related movements especially the labour movement, new peasant move...
SOCPY508Techniques for Policy Analysis19B (Hamilton)
This paper exposes students to a selection of techniques in the policy toolkit that can be applied to problem solving in social policy issues. It also reflects on the values and assumptions underlying methods. Students wil be taught to apply policy methods critically and in context.
SOCPY531Advanced Employment Relations 1: The Employment Relations Framework19A (Hamilton)
Students will be expected to analyse and to discuss the Employment Relations Act in its social and economic context and also to focus on specific issues such as good faith bargaining.
SOCPY532Advanced Employment Relations 2: Current Policies and Practices19B (Hamilton)
The paper is concerned with a number of topics of contemporary relevance to New Zealand employment relations, and in particular issues of labour market flexibility, employment equity, employee participation, employee health and safety and workplace privacy.
SOCPY589Directed Study19A (Hamilton), 19B (Hamilton) & 19S (Hamilton)
Students have the opportunity to pursue a topic of their own interest under the guidance of academic staff. Open to selected students who meet the criteria set out in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Graduate Handbook.
SOCPY590Directed Study19A (Hamilton), 19B (Hamilton) & 19Y (Hamilton)
Students have the opportunity to pursue a topic of their own interest under the guidance of academic staff. Open to selected students who meet the criteria set out in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Graduate Handbook.
SOCPY591Dissertation19C (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
SOCPY592Dissertation19C (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
SOCPY593Social Policy Thesis19C (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
SOCPY594Social Policy Thesis19C (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.

900 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
SOCPY900Social Policy PhD Thesis19C (Hamilton)
No description available.

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Subject links

Societies and Cultures Programme

Social Policy is available as a major for the BSocSc. Social Policy may also be taken as a second major or as a minor within other undergraduate degrees, subject to academic approval of the Faculty or School of Studies in which the student is enrolled.

For more information about subject requirements please refer to the catalogue of papers for the most up to date information. If you have any questions and need more advice contact one of our friendly student advisors phone: 0800 800 145 or +64 7 838 4080 or email:

Note: Social Policy is available as a major for the BSocSc in Hamilton and Tauranga.  Tauranga-based students majoring in Social Policy may substitute SOCW305 for SOCP304

Please note: For all graduate subject requirements check the information provided in the papers section above.



Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences:
Phone: 0800 800 145 or +64 7 838 4138
General and Undergraduate Email Enquiries:
Graduate and Postgraduate Email Enquiries: