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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
ECONS102Economics and Society15.021A (Hamilton)
This paper introduces selected economic models, with a focus on developing and applying critical thinking skills to a range of business and social issues and to economic policies.
EDSOC101The New Zealand Educational Context15.021B (Hamilton), 21B (Online) & 21B (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 Waitangi15.021A (Hamilton), 21A (Tauranga) & 21B (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 Policy15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (Tauranga)
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 Sociology15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (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 Policy15.021A (Hamilton) & 21A (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 State15.0No occurrences
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
EDSOC200Education and New Zealand Society15.021A (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 Analysis15.021A (Hamilton) & 21A (Online)
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 Studies15.021A (Hamilton) & 21A (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.
SOCIO20121st Century Activism and Radical Thought15.0No occurrences
This paper will offer insight into the historical legacies of systemic racism, sexism and class oppression by taking an in-depth look at key issues raised in 20th century social movements in New Zealand and the United States and mapping those issues into the 21st century.
SOCIO204Punishment, Society and Social Justice15.0No occurrences
This subject will provide students with a critical understanding of the theoretical, political and policy issues associated with societies' response to crime and social harm.
SOCPY200Social Policy and Social Issues15.021A (Hamilton) & 21A (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 Children15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (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.
SOCPY202Addressing Precarity: A Global Perspective15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (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.
SOCWK205Community Development15.0No occurrences
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.

300 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
ECONS307Economics of Land, Water and Environment15.021A (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.
EDSOC300Māori Knowledge and Western Impacts in Education15.021A (Online)
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 Inequalities15.021A (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 Families15.021A (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.
PACIS300Contemporary Critical Issues in the Pacific15.021A (Hamilton)
This paper provides an in-depth examination of a number of contemporary critical issues in the Pacific as identified by leading Pacific scholars, writers, artists, auteurs and activists.
POLCY318Global Environmental Politics and Policy15.021A (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 Change15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (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.
SOCIO311Current Issues in Crime Control and Social Justice15.021G (Online)
This paper examines sociological explanations for criminal behaviour and examines issues within criminal justice.
SOCPY300Social Policy15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (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 Policy15.021A (Hamilton) & 21A (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 Beyond15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (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 State15.0No occurrences
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.
SOCPY390Directed Study15.021A (Hamilton), 21B (Hamilton), 21D (Hamilton), 21G (Hamilton) & 21H (Hamilton)
This paper provides students with a flexible opportunity to undertake investigation of a specific topic from a social policy perspective.

500 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
EDSOC501Education Policy and Society30.021A (Hamilton)
A critical analysis of educational policies and practices, with particular references to New Zealand.
POLSC501Policy Analysis: Theory and Practice30.021A (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 ...
POPST501Population Health and Equity30.021A (Hamilton)
This paper explores population health in Aotearoa/New Zealand and internationally, emphasising the broader determinants of wellbeing and equity. It introduces aspects of epidemiology, considers historical, indigenous and contemporary perspectives of health, and explores relationships between health, community and society.
POPST507Critical Demography30.021A (Hamilton)
This paper introduces students to critical demography as an approach that draws on social science theories to understand key demographic phenomena. Interactive seminars will comprise a blend of structured lectures and in-class discussion focussed on weekly readings drawn from Aotearoa NZ and internationally. The first part of the p...
POPST509Research Methods for Population Analysis15.021B (Hamilton) & 21B (Online)
This paper provides students with hands-on experience conducting population research, working with real world data to analyse to investigate population issues. Students will gain a sound understanding of how to access, analyse and interpret data and how to communicate their findings, skills directly applicable to a range of policy,...
PSYCH511Evaluation Research Design15.021A (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 Analysis30.021X (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 ...
SOCIO500Comparative Indigenous Criminology30.021A (Hamilton)
This paper focuses on a critical comparison of indigenous people's experiences of crime control policies and interventions in settler-colonial jurisdictions.
SOCPY501Critical Issues in Crime and Social Justice30.0No occurrences
The paper focuses on contemporary, critical issues related to New Zealand's criminal justice system, and the wider context of social justice.
SOCPY507Gender and Development30.021A (Hamilton)
This graduate paper explores fundamental constructs of feminism within the context of development schemes and policies.
SOCPY589Directed Study15.021A (Hamilton), 21B (Hamilton) & 21H (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 Study30.021A (Hamilton), 21B (Hamilton) & 21D (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.
SOCPY591Dissertation30.021X (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
SOCPY592Dissertation60.021X (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
SOCPY593Social Policy Thesis90.021I (Hamilton) & 21X (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
SOCPY594Social Policy Thesis120.021X (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 Thesis120.021I (Hamilton) & 21X (Hamilton)
No description available.

Scholarships and prizes

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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 and Undergraduate Email Enquiries: [email protected]
Graduate and Postgraduate Email Enquiries: [email protected]