UCC Postgraduate courses

Social Policy

Course Fact File
Duration1 year Full-time; 2 years Part-time
Teaching ModeFull-time, Part-Time
NFQ LevelLevel 8
Closing DateRolling deadline. Open until all places have been filled. Early application is advised.
Non-EU Closing DateOpen until all places have been filled or no later than 30 June. Early application is advised.
Start Date9 September 2024

Course Outline

The Higher Diploma in Social Policy is a conversion course giving a foundation in the field of social policy for graduates who do not hold a social science degree.  It can be studied full-time as a one-year course or part-time over two years (by day).

The course sets social policy in the context of the social sciences. The course is particularly relevant to those who want to apply for professional postgraduate courses in social work, e.g. Master of Social Work.

You will study core modules on topics including the evolution of the welfare state, poverty and social exclusion, social policy and social theory, and housing and homelessness. Additionally, you will choose three optional modules from the areas of social science and social work, community development, youth policy, mental health, education, sexuality, planning, and developmental psychology.

You will also undertake a supervised 10,000-word, social research project on a social policy topic of your choice (in consultation with your supervisor). This will be a desk-based piece of research, involving an exploration of the policy and literature around your chosen topic.


Students take 60 credits as follows:

Part I

  • SS3005 Housing and Homelessness (5 credits)
  • SS3008 Poverty and Social Exclusion (5 credits)
  • SS3049 Politics and Social Policy IV (5 credits)
  • SS3050 Politics and Social Policy V (5 credits)
  • SS5317 Social Policy and Social Theory (10 credits)

plus 15 credits from the following: (Subject to timetable availability)

  • AP1023 Lifespan Development (5 credits)
  • SS3006 Education and Welfare (5 credits)
  • SS3009 Communities, Activism and Development (5 credits)
  • SS3010 Social Science and Social Work (5 credits)
  • SS3011 Youth Policy and Practice (5 credits)
  • SS3015 The Politics of Racism (Online) (5 credits)
  • SS3016 Social Perspectives in Mental Health (5 credits)
  • SS3021 Sexuality and Society (5 credits)
  • SS3033 Issues in Planning and Sustainable Development (5 credits)
  • SS3045 Critical Perspectives on Age and Ageing (5 credits)
  • SS3051 Critical Perspectives on Disability (5 credits)
  • SS3118 Community Conflict Transformation and Peace Building (5 credits)

Part II

  • SS5400 Research Report (15 credits)

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year to year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

Depending on the optional modules chosen, for the full-time one-year option, students can typically expect 12-16 hours of lectures per week, and four reading hours in the first semester, 4-8 hours of lectures per week, and eight reading hours in the second semester. For the part-time option, students can typically expect 6/7 hours of lectures per week (by day). Students must also make themselves available for a study visit, which may be abroad, for 3 to 4 days.

The part-time option will be taught during weekday working hours over 2 years.

Extra additional costs in addition to fees: approx. €250 on the study visit (for day-to-day living expenses) 


Assessment is by a combination of essays, exams, and a social research project.

Who teaches this course

Why Choose This Course

This is the only Higher Diploma Social Policy course in Ireland that combines intensive seminar immersion with the opportunity for field visits to countries such as France, Italy, Germany, and Sweden.

Skills and Careers Information

Our Higher Diploma in Social Policy gives you a foundation in the study of the welfare state and social services. It is a conversion course for those who don’t hold a social science degree, but wish to apply for the Master of Social Work course. The course also prepares you for entry to other postgraduate courses in the School of Applied Social Studies, UCC, e.g. social policy, planning, youth and community work, social services administration, and child care.


  • The Higher Diploma in Social Policy is open to graduates who do not already possess a BSocSc Honours Degree.
  • Applicants may be required to present for an interview where an overall assessment of their suitability will be made.

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

Postgraduate EU and International Fees 2024/2025

See our Postgraduate EU and Non-EU (International) Fee Schedule for the latest information.


If your course requires a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

Fee payment 

Fees are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

See different options on our How Do I Pay My Fees? page.

Any questions? See the 'Contact Us' section on the Fees Office page.

How To Apply

1. Check dates

Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

2. Gather documents

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply online

Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)

Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. This will include the following:

  • You may enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.
  • Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme.
  • Please enter the names & email addresses of 2 referees (one from an academic source and the other from a work source - either voluntary or paid).


Please note that successful EU applicants will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of €500 on acceptance of their place.

The closing date for non-EU applications is Open until all places have been filled or no later than 30 June. Early application is advised.

Apply Now

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact