9 Social Science Degrees to Consider

23 Oct, 2023 | Economics & Business, Law, Politics, Psychology, University Preparation

What Are the Social Sciences?

The social sciences investigate societies, human behaviour and global challenges. They focus on understanding the inner workings of society and its influences on different aspects of our world. Social science students study the Earth in Geography, the legal system in Law, the political system in Political Science, and much more!

What Will I Learn Studying for a Social Science Degree?

Social science subjects are particularly important in creating change in society, which is especially significant in the face of climate change and political unrest. This means that what you learn in a social sciences degree will have immense real-world value. 

I. An understanding of human behaviour

During a social sciences degree, students explore the intricacies of human behaviour from different psychological, sociological and anthropological perspectives. In the process, students gain detailed insights into the motivations, emotions and cognitive processes that guide human actions. 

Social science students graduate with a wide understanding of the social factors, cultural norms and environmental influences that shape individual and collective behaviour. Studying a social sciences degree will leave you with a valuable set of skills for analysing case studies, conducting interviews and administering surveys – a skillset highly valued across industries and sectors!

II. Analytical and research skills

Many social science subjects involve a certain amount of data analysis, so students develop a sound foundation of analytical skills and gain experience with quantitative and qualitative research methods. A social sciences degree will teach you how to collect, interpret and synthesise data to draw your own meaningful conclusions and insights.

In doing so, students learn how to use a range of statistical tools, software and databases, and acquire exceptional research skills for their future career.

III. Problem solving and critical thinking

Alongside research skills, you’ll also develop effective problem solving and critical thinking abilities. Through analysing complex social issues like poverty, inequality, crime and healthcare disparities, social science students learn to approach problems from different angles, considering the cultural, historical and systemic factors. 

Additionally, you’ll learn how to break down large challenges into more manageable components to propose evidence-based solutions and strategies.

IV. Communication and collaboration

Throughout their degrees, social science students participate in a variety of group projects, debates and seminars, graduating with excellent communication and collaborative skills.

In particular, the social sciences encourage students to articulate complex sociopolitical concepts to diverse audiences, and to engage in respectful discussions and debates.

Summer school students collaborating.

How Do I Choose a Social Science Degree?

The social sciences are immensely diverse, spanning a range of academic options, and leading to a variety of careers. The degree you study can play a key role in shaping your future career, so it’s a good idea to consider the field you might like to work in before deciding on a degree

To get you started, here’s our list of nine social sciences degrees to consider:

Social Science Degrees to Consider

1. Psychology

Psychology is a social science degree exploring the complexities of human behaviour and mental processes, from different perspectives like biological or social. Studying Psychology fosters an understanding of individual and group dynamics, as well as empathy. 

The key focus of psychology is to understand human behaviour and thinking, which means it’s incredibly relevant to everyday life. Human behaviour and thinking influences every aspect of society – people’s spending habits influence the economy, and a psychological understanding of persuasion influences politics and advertising. 

Psychology also has relevance in healthcare, education and business settings, so this social science degree can be applied to a wide range of settings and careers. 

Some of the most common career paths for Psychology students are roles as qualified psychologists – like Educational Psychologists or Clinical Psychologists – counsellors, human resource managers and research analysts. 

2. Sociology

Studying Sociology involves examining the institutions and structures within society, to address the issues within them. These are often related to social inequalities and cultural diversity. 

Research within sociology focuses on groups as well as society as a whole, and is critical in understanding social change and in advocating for social justice. A Sociology degree helps students to develop a deep understanding of the workings of society, and how best to improve it. 

Some career opportunities for a Sociology degree include social work, community development, policy analysis and market research. Regardless of the specific role you go into, this degree paves the way for you to directly, and positively, impact society!

3. Economics

If your interest lies in the economy, then an Economics degree might be perfect for you! Take a dive into the world of economic principles, markets and financial systems to develop an understanding of how money works in our society. 

Like all social science degrees, Economics has a lot of real-world value. It’s important in shaping economic policies and understanding global economic trends, which influence all of our lives. 

Potential career paths for economists include roles in finance, banking, economic analysis and consultancy. All of these roles allow you to apply what you’ve learnt in an Economics degree and have a palpable impact on individual lives and in the wider global economy. 

A street sign pointing towards Wall Street, New York City.

4. Political Science

Political Science focuses on the social realm of politics, analysing political structures, governance and international affairs. 

Particularly in periods of economic unrest and international tension, this degree has plenty of real-world applications. Developing an understanding of diplomatic relations and global challenges is a critical step in improving political situations within and between countries. Possible career paths in Political Science include careers in development, international organisation, diplomacy and policy analysis, all providing opportunities to impact society on a global scale.

5. Geography

Geography examines the influence of human activities on Earth’s physical features and environments, and vice versa. As the climate crisis becomes a focal point in society, Geography becomes more and more significant for our future, influencing how we address environmental issues. 

However, applications of a Geography degree don’t end with the environment! The subject also explores topics like urban planning, informing the development of urban areas to meet the needs of a community. Possible careers within Geography include cartography, geographic information systems (GIS), environmental consulting and urban planning. 

A world map.

6. Social Work

A degree in Social Work explores the principles and practices that support individuals, families and communities. Social Work takes on an especially active role in society, and often applies findings from sociological research. Studying a Social Work degree is particularly focused on active implementation, as opposed to the research focus in a Sociology degree. 

Social Work is critical in addressing societal challenges and promoting well-being. Social Workers often focus on aiding underprivileged groups, and work in child and family services, healthcare, mental health counselling and social advocacy. 

7. Law

Law explores the inner workings of the legal system, and studies the implementations of laws in upholding justice. Studying Law is vital in shaping legal systems, and investigating the best ways to uphold justice across different areas like criminal law, human rights law and international law. 

Potential career paths are varied and can involve researching, implementing laws, and investigating how to improve the legal system. Popular roles after a Law degree include lawyers, legal consultants, judges and legal researchers. 

8. International Relations

International Relations explores and analyses the nature of international affairs and diplomatic relations among nations. It plays a significant part in addressing global issues and conflicts, and an understanding of how international relations works is vital in regulating and altering global relations and issues. 

Studying for a degree in International Relations can lead to a variety of possible career paths, including roles in diplomacy, international organisations, global consulting and foreign affairs analysis. 

9. Criminology

Finally, Criminology is a social science degree which examines crime, investigating its causes, consequences and prevention strategies. This is especially important in understanding criminal behaviour, including motivations, trends, and how to identify someone at risk of engaging in criminal behaviour.

Developing an understanding of Criminology contributes to the development of safe communities and crime reduction. People who have studied Criminology often pursue work in law enforcement, corrections, criminal profiling and victim advocacy. 

Studying a social science degree enables you to make genuine and meaningful impacts on areas important to you. 

As with any other degree, it’s important to understand the subject you’re planning to study and use this to make an informed choice. OxBright offers online courses and internships in a range of social sciences, to help you gain further insight into a subject before you decide to study it at university.


By Kylie Li

Kylie is reading Experimental Psychology student at Queen’s College, Oxford. She is most interested in developmental and cognitive psychology, and how these can be applied to the education system.

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