6 reasons social science degrees are so popular

International students in Sheffield city

Social Science subjects are wonderfully varied, offering a wide range of career progression routes following graduation. The scope is broad, but these subjects are united by one thing – a focus on understanding the workings of human society.

Aren’t we all interested in how our societies work, and how we can help them work better? Here are some of the reasons why so many students from around the world are attracted to social science degrees in the UK.

Flexible career options

Degrees in social work, politics, criminology, sociology, anthropology, statistics, finance, economics, law, psychology. The social sciences cover a lot of ground. The appeal is broad because the many subjects that come under the social sciences umbrella provide fascinating insights into everyday life in our communities, families and workplaces. All social science courses help students develop a wide range of transferable skills and open up many career options.

The successful completion of a degree in any social sciences subject demonstrates research skills, analytical ability, a flexible and adaptable approach to learning, critical evaluation, the ability to work to deadlines, creativity, logical thinking, team-working, self-organisation and communication skills – all skills that will serve graduates no matter where they want to take their careers.


Human beings are fascinated by other human beings. What makes us tick? What makes a successful society? Why do so many of us watch Big Brother, read newspaper gossip columns, check Twitter feeds? Just one of the reasons why social science degrees are so popular is that we’re keen to study ourselves. As humans, we are, innately, problem solvers. Looking inward, be it at ourselves through psychology, or at our society as a whole, through sociology for example, we like to question, analyse, and look for answers. Social sciences subjects allow us to do just that.

Jobs that make a difference

Graduate with a social science degree in the UK and you’ll be equipped with the skills you need to help to shape the future. Social sciences subjects naturally lead to progression into the kinds of careers that make a very real difference to society. Environmental planning, health, education, politics, law, international relations – these are just a handful of the many social science areas that help you to improve the lives of children and adults in societies around the world. Whatever sphere of social science you specialise in, the world needs your expertise.

Better job prospects

In many areas of employment, in the public and private sectors, employers are keen to recruit social science graduates because they have the analytic and communication skills that a successful economy and society needs. A 2013 report carried out for the Campaign for Social Science found that:

  • At 3.5 years after graduating, the proportion of social science graduates in employment is higher than that of graduates of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) or arts-humanities.
  • More social science graduates are in managerial and senior official roles than graduates of STEM or arts-humanities subjects, at the same point in time.

The social sciences include Economics

Economics is one of the most popular degree subjects, and it falls under the category of social science. Economics degrees are popular because the skills and knowledge learned can be so widely applied in the real world. Government, aid agencies, banks, multinational corporations, engineering firms, retail, education, health – the sectors to which economic expertise can be applied is almost endless. It’s also a degree subject that can be easily combined with other subjects, making it a popular option for those looking to study for a combined social science degree in the UK.

Compatible Foundation Courses are available

Foundation courses are an increasingly popular way for international students to gain entry into British undergraduate degree programmes. Foundation courses ensure that students attain the right level of qualifications, knowledge, confidence and English language skills necessary to successfully study at British university level.

At places like the University of Sheffield International College, students can choose to specialise in the social sciences as part of their pre-degree study, with the International Foundation Year in Business, Law and Social Sciences course. It makes applying for a social science degree in the UK a whole lot easier for international students, and helps them make the transition from school to university smoothly, with all the support they need.