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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.
Area of Study:

Career opportunities

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

Study in Tauranga

Students in Tauranga can complete a Bachelor of Social Sciences (BSocSc) majoring in Social Policy, or complete Social Policy as a minor or supporting subject in most other Bachelors degrees.

100 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
SOCIO101Introduction to Sociology15.023B (Hamilton) & 23B (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 Policy15.023A (Hamilton) & 23A (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.
SOCPY101Social Policy & the Welfare State15.023B (Hamilton) & 23B (Online)
This paper covers the rise of the welfare state as the primary means of social policy delivery in New Zealand.

200 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
SOCIO206Environmental Sociology: From Denial to Actions15.023A (Online)
The environment and climate are as much about human activity, economic and political choices as scientific information. Thinking sociologically, not just as individuals is the key to change.
SOCPY200Social Policy and Social Issues15.023A (Online) & 23A (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.
SOCPY201Child Poverty & Social Policy15.023A (Online)
This paper develops students' theoretical understanding of social policy, focusing on the effects of child poverty. We examine how policy shapes and responds to poverty experienced by children and families.
SOCPY202Addressing Precarity: A Global Perspective15.023B (Hamilton) & 23B (Online)
This paper considers human precarity: past, present and future. The focus is on its contemporary forms under global market competition, and ways to make a more secure world in the future.

300 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
ALPSS390Directed Study15.023X (Hamilton)
This paper allows students from the Division of Arts, Law, Psychology and Social Sciences to undertake research on a specific topic related to their major under the guidance of academic staff.
GNSEX303Intersectionalities: Identities and Inequalities15.023B (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...
SOCIO305Human Enhancement Technologies and Social Life15.023A (Hamilton) & 23A (Online)
This paper analyses the causes and impacts of technologies of human enhancement on individuals and societies. The paper addresses issues such as smart drugs, gene edits and cybernetics.
SOCIO311Current Issues in Crime Control and Social Justice15.023G (Online)
This paper examines sociological explanations for criminal behaviour and examines issues within criminal justice.
SOCPY300Social Policy15.023B (Online)
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 Policy15.023B (Hamilton), 23B (Online) & 23B (Tauranga)
This paper provides a critical introduction to key issues in the formation of health policy at both a national and international level.
SOCPY302Welfare to Workfare and Beyond15.023A (Hamilton) & 23A (Online)
This paper seeks to explore the relationship between the NZ labour market and welfare system, focusing on the rise of the neo-liberal welfare state, its consequence and alternatives.
SOCPY303Critical Feminism and the Prison State15.023A (Online)
This paper employs anti-carceral feminist theories and frameworks to explore the phenomenon of mass female imprisonment across nation states, with a particular focus on Indigenous and Black Imprisoned Radical Tradition.

500 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
ALPSS590Directed Study30.023X (Hamilton)
This paper allows students from the Division of Arts, Law, Psychology and Social Sciences to undertake research on a specific topic related to their major under the guidance of academic staff.
SOCIO501Knowing Bodies30.023A (Hamilton) & 23A (Online)
This paper examines interdisciplinary understandings of bodies in social and cultural contexts, drawing from sociology of health and illness, gender and sexuality studies and cultural studies.
SOCPY500Techniques for Policy Analysis30.023A (Online)
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 will be taught to apply policy methods critically and in context.
SOCPY502Insecurity, Diversity, Inequality and Work30.023B (Hamilton)
Focusing on the world of work this paper examines how the challenges of insecurity, diversity and inequality are managed in New Zealand.
SOCPY507Gender and Development30.023A (Hamilton)
This graduate paper explores fundamental constructs of feminism within the context of development schemes and policies.
SOCPY591Dissertation30.023X (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
SOCPY592Dissertation60.023X (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
SOCPY593Social Policy Thesis90.023X (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
SOCPY594Social Policy Thesis120.023X (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.

900 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
SOCPY900Social Policy PhD Thesis120.023I (Hamilton), 23J (Hamilton), 23K (Hamilton) & 23X (Hamilton)
No description available.

Scholarships and prizes

New to Waikato? The International Excellence Scholarship is worth up to $10,000.

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Subject links

Sociology and Social Policy Programmes

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, please contact one of our friendly student advisors on phone: 0800 800 145 or +64 7 838 4080 or email: [email protected]

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, please check the information provided in the papers section above.


School of Social Sciences
Phone: 0800 800 145 or +64 7 838 4138
General Enquiries: [email protected]