The social sciences can loosely be defined as the study of human society and social relationships, but in reality, the definition is much broader. Social sciences include the study of everything from the smallest pieces of human behaviour in a social setting such as body language, to much broader studies of population growth, movements and even economic and political elements of society.
You will fall under the social sciences umbrella if you want to study anything with an element of human interaction, including anthropology, economics, geography, history, law, and linguistics as well as the more obvious specialisms like psychology, sociology and linguistics. The specialisms within social sciences often have a large research proportion to them and maybe a lot more academic than other disciplines, often incorporating reading, learning and even creating research papers that contribute to the wider understanding of the human conditions.
Social sciences are some of the more popular specialisms chosen by University students who want to study for a passion rather than study for a vocation, although there are plenty of employment and career opportunities for those who have a passion for their field of study.
Studying the social sciences will have given you a fascinating insight into humanity and everyday life, as well as providing you with a range of transferable skills that will make any social science graduate a useful addition to any workforce; whether it’s as a research assistant on a large social study or something completely unrelated to the field you studied in.
These transferable skills include demonstrable research skills and an analytical approach to data which is something that many employers will find invaluable. The social sciences also teach good communication skills and critical thinking which are essential for success in any career path, along with other valuable traits like working to deadlines, ability to competently follow instructions, teamwork and also self-organisation.
Social science students are also attractive because of the unique area of study and the fact that they need to be naturally curious about how humans work in order to be a successful student. There are a plethora of opportunities in the workplace for students with such curiosity and focus on one area, which is why many social science students end up with careers in their field in some capacity.
Social science courses tend to follow a similar structure regardless of the specialism being studied. This is usually in the form of a 3 year, full-time course which focuses on the academic study of the specialism where progress and achievement is measured in examinations and assignments.
Certain universities offer a year abroad on a study assignment, which is similar to the way many business and management disciplines offer a vocational year in the workplace. These years abroad can be used to work on an ongoing study or to contribute to the field in some way, or they could be used to conduct your own research and write papers. This option is not as popular as other fields and will depend on each institution what their course structure is, but even with a year out the full 3 years of academic study will need to be completed.