Public Service BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)

Cambridge

September 2017

Overview

Advance your understanding of the public services and the changing world in which they operate. Develop skills and knowledge not only for a public service career, but future leadership roles as well.

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Full description

Careers

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Our past students have gone on to work with uniformed services such as the police (as analysts and researchers as well as constables), the fire service, the Prison Service and all branches of the military, as well as in HM Revenue & Customs, public and private sector organisations as managers, and primary, further or higher education.

With employability at the heart of our course, you’ll also develop many transferable skills that can help you find success in a variety of other professional careers, including problem solving, critical and analytical thinking, research, data retrieval, persuasive writing techniques, rigorous scrutiny of evidence, creative thinking, computer skills, use of digital resources, team work, communication skills leadership skills, project planning/development.

You might also choose to continue on to a Masters course, such as our MA Criminology, MA International Relations or MA Sociology.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Understanding Public Service
    This module will help you develop an understanding of the origins and nature of public service work in the broadest sense, including the social and political environment within which public services emerged and currently operate. You'll reflect on your current role or potential roles within the work sector. You’ll also look at how and why public services developed and explore the cultural and political ethos behind public services, the legal and ethical frameworks that inform the sector, the demands placed on public services and employees, and possible developments in the future. Your understanding will be grounded academically through an introduction to the meaning of work, identity and society.
  • Introduction to Social Science
    This module will introduce you to the ideas of some of the key thinkers in Sociology, including Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Goffman and Becker, and the continuing relevance of their ideas to the analysis of contemporary societies and to an understanding of public services. You'll explore the significance of the sociological study of aspects of society such as the individual, groups, inequality, conflict and social change to understanding the social context within which public services are delivered.
  • Basic Criminalistics
    Criminalistics is the core discipline of forensic science; in many uses, especially North America, it's synonymous with forensic science. The study is built on one basic premise: that every contact or action leaves some trace (Locard's Principle). As scientific methodologies have improved over the years, so the nature of what constitutes a trace has changed considerably. This module will introduce you to the main categories of trace evidence (finger and other body prints, fibres, hairs, glass and paint fragments, impressions of tools, gun discharge residues, and body fluids) and will emphasise the importance of rigorous crime scene management and proper methods of evidence recovery. You'll also learn about recent developments in enhanced evidence recovery, and evaluate the relative evidential value of various kinds of recovered trace material. This will lead on to a brief introduction to the statistical interpretation of such evidence.
  • Working in Public Service
    This module will introduce you to the work environments and current operation of a range of uniformed public services. Typically, examples will be chosen from the military, fire, police, prison and ambulance services, but this range may be adapted according to your needs. Building on the material studied in the module 'Understanding Public Services', you'll focus on the historical origins of these services and your current specific operation. You'll analyse the work environments (including entry, initial training, conditions of service, professional development, career development, occupational cultures and relevant wider issues) from a range of critical perspectives. In particular, you'll be asked to make some critical assessments of some of the dominant views of these services.
  • Work Based Learning 1
    Learning in the work place is an integral part of your foundation degree. The work environment provides a rich setting for you to discover and explore a range of knowledge, skills and understanding. You'll undertake three strands that form an integrated approach to your studies: learning about work (further developing your knowledge and understanding of the workplace), learning through work (examines the acquisition of practical skills in a real working environment), learning for work (your knowledge and skills will be developed in a way that is directly relevant to the workplace). You'll reflect on your work practice, critically appraise your own performance and report on the experience of learning at work. You'll be expected to demonstrate information gathering and descriptive skills, as well as an awareness of ethical issues relevant to your practice and studies.
  • Researching Social Issues
    This module will introduce you to the range of research instruments available to social scientists. Through sustained consideration of one issue - the policing of ethnic minorities - you'll learn the value of empirical research as a means to understanding social issues. You'll discover how police-minority relations can be analysed using a variety of methods, including observation, experiment, quantitative surveys, official statistics, qualitative interviewing, ethnography, archive research, case studies and life histories. By discussing these approaches, you'll develop an understanding of the potential strengths and limitations of each method, the practical issues around effective data gathering, sensitivity to cultural difference, and the ethical and political dimensions of the research process. Throughout the module, you'll develop skills and knowledge that will enable you to locate, use and evaluate research findings appropriately.
  • Political Ideologies and Social Controversies
    This module will give you a grounding in major political ideologies and key political concepts for your future study in practical and theoretical aspects of social science. By studying the core elements of ideologies, you'll have the opportunity to engage in basic comparative study and some degree of historical analysis. You'll then use this understanding of key political ideologies to explore different political environments. You'll reflect on forms of classical political thought and locate these in contemporary political settings. Your assessment will be in the form of a 1,000 word critical analysis and a 2000-word essay.

Year two, core modules

  • Equality and Cultural Diversity at work
    This module will develop your knowledge of equality and cultural diversity issues. Through a series of lectures, seminars and workshops (or the equivalent for online delivery), you'll study equality legislation, and the social causes and outcomes of prejudice, bullying and harassment. You'll also consider the institutional practices that have reduced service delivery and led to internal bullying, as well as the public services' reaction to this.
  • Social Research Methods
    This hands-on module will help you develop the practical skills to carry out research in the social sciences. You'll focus on developing evaluative skills and practical competence in both qualitative and quantitative methods. You'll further your ability to critically assess the published research findings encountered in your reading for other modules, and to select and apply appropriate methods in dissertations or projects as well as future employment. The assignment will allow you to generate and analyse data that addresses the same issue using different methodologies. For the qualitative part of the research report, you'll devise and carry out a semi-structured interview, then analyse the interview transcripts using manual methods. You'll choose data-generation methods, put these methods into practice in a small pilot study, analyse the results, reflect on the experience and draw conclusions. The second part will introduce you to key quantitative techniques commonly used by social researchers. You'll discover the processes involved in the structured questionnaire method, which is needed to generate a relatively large dataset. You'll learn the methodology required to translate research questions into a questionnaire format, then carry out a pilot questionnaire survey and critically analyse the practical experience.
  • Leading Public Service
    This module will develop your critical view of public services in a broad sense, through an understanding of current perspectives on leadership and management in public service and how these relate to the ever-changing political, social and economic contexts in which they operate. You'll discuss the importance of effective management and leadership, along with the influence of the structures of public services and the impact of these on an organisation. You'll also evaluate different perspectives and styles of leadership, developing your understanding of the complexities and debates around this topic.
  • Work Based Learning 2
    Building on your experience in Work-Based Learning 1, you'll continue your exploration of professional/occupational practice as a source of learning along the strands developed previously. You'll need to demonstrate a greater degree of autonomy in the management of your learning, and more detailed knowledge of relevant theoretical underpinning. You'll also be required to analyse and evaluate both information and argument, and demonstrate the application of theory to practice.
  • Resilience and Emergency Management
    Bringing together all the skills you've learned on the Public Service Foundation Degree course, this module will task you with identifying and understanding how the emergency services prepare for and operate at major disasters. You'll look at the ways government and emergency services prepare for and react to major disasters, and consider the advantages and difficulties of the multi-agency approach. Working in teams, you'll solve problems and come up with innovative preparations for, and take part in, major disaster exercises. You'll need to take a reflexive and critical view on the work of government and the emergency services to identify strengths and weaknesses in the current preparation for disasters.

Year two, optional modules

  • Theories of Deviance, Crime and Social Control
    On this module, you'll explore explanations of deviant behaviour throughout the 20th century and theories of crime that are of both historical interest and contemporary relevance, identifying and policing the parameters of 'normality' in late modern, Western society. You'll also look at specific questions relating to the transgression of social norms and whether it is the result of specific environments. You'll not only gain a historical understanding of social explanations, but also learn to demonstrate the relevance of these theories to contemporary understandings of deviance and social control. You'll also explore Labelling Theory and Radical or Marxist Criminological theories, as well as more practical or policy oriented views of both Right and Left Realism, before going on to look at two recent and very influential approaches to understanding crime. You’ll then focus on the role of "power" and social control, and the role of "culture" and the recent work of cultural criminologists. Your assessment will comprise of a test and an essay.
  • Policing and Crime Control
    Laws don't have an impact unless they're enforced, or unless there is an anticipation of enforcement. The Police is the most visible of enforcement agencies and organisations, and debates and controversies about their role in society are never far from legal, political and public attention. On this module, you'll reflect on some of the key sociological and political issues surrounding the maintenance of social order. You'll consider the development of the police and their contemporary role, and examine continuities and changes in public attitudes and expectations of the police, as well as the impact of technological and organisational changes in styles of policing and maintaining social order. You'll consider the growth of paramilitary-style policing, as well as community policing initiatives. You may take part in a local field trip to see an element of police training that will form the basis of one of your assessment tasks. Your assessment will take the form of a patchwork submission comprising five elements: a review of a key text; a critical analysis of policing styles; a summary of a documentary; an observation/reflection on an element of police learning and development; and an in-class test.
  • Cultures of War
    The media is saturated with reports of war, ethnic and political conflict. Whilst there are rules of engagement for war, crimes are still committed during conflicts. On this module, you'll consider and evaluate the concept of 'war', through the conduct of governments and international bodies as well as combatants and non-combatants. You'll examine the causes of war and crimes committed in conflict-torn environments. Is war a natural consequence of human interaction? Is there a difference between a 'terrorist' and a 'freedom fighter'? Are there effective methods for resolving global conflicts? You'll explore some historical, political, legal and sociological explanations of combat, conflict and political unrest, agendas as well as the impact of patriotism, nationalism and fanaticism. You'll examine theories of war, rules of armed conflict and the roles of international courts and tribunals, as well as representations of war in the media (including the 'war on drugs' and 'war on terror'), conflict prevention and effective peace processes. You'll be encouraged to draw upon contemporary materials, and to keep up with recent media coverage of events. You'll be assessed through essays, one of them time constrained.
  • Contemporary Work and Organisational Life
    This module will give you an in-depth analysis of contemporary theories and key issues related to work and organisations from a sociological perspective. You'll focus on major organisational and technological changes in industrialised societies such as McDonaldization, debureaucratisation, delayering, the information revolution, post-Fordism, de-skilling and professionalisation. These are linked to broader social transformations: the decline of manufacturing industries and the rise of the service sector in the West, the rationalisation of public services, and the global triumph of capitalism. You'll investigate the impact of these changes on workplace structures, experiences and opportunities at work, and the relative strength of work identities. You'll also consider whether individuals in industrialised societies now have a greater potential to choose, map out, and control their work biographies. You'll be assessed through a mid-semester class test and a case study.
  • Contemporary Issues in Prisons and Penology
    On this module, you'll examine the proper aims and objectives of punishment and the role of rehabilitation in correcting criminal behaviour, focusing on the three core ideas of retribution, rehabilitation and restoration. You'll discover how, by taking a specific theoretical line, certain public policy measures are implied, and explore the roots of the sanctions we take for granted, such as the birth of the prison and the demise (in some countries) of the death penalty. You'll consider the impact of penal direction-changes, the emergence of rehabilitation as a 'model' and the growth of the 'penal industry' throughout the western world. You'll also examine some of the theories that have been generated to understand and direct various responses to unruly behaviour: the utilitarian tradition, the retributive tradition, just deserts, proportionality, rehabilitation, deterrence, restoration and reparation. You'll be assessed through an essay and a report in an agreed area.
  • Sociology of Education
    This module will introduce you to key sociological perspectives on schooling and education. Schooling systems and strategies are instrumental in shaping individual and collective identities, and in reflecting and reinforcing dominant societal values. On this module, you'll engage with the central scholarly and political debates that surround these issues. More specifically, you'll explore how experiences of schooling are shaped by social dimensions such as class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality. You'll consider the basic functions of education, before exploring topics such as the micro-politics of everyday school life; higher education; employability and the knowledge economy; schooling and the negotiation of masculinities and femininities; schooling and sexuality; and schooling, ethnicity and whiteness. Your assessment for this module will be a 3,000 word essay.
  • Anglia Language Programme
    The Anglia Language Programme allows you to study a foreign language as part of your course. You'll take one language module in the second semester of your first year in order to experience the learning of a new language. You must select a language you've never learnt before from the following: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

Year three, core modules

  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.
  • Politics and Public Service
    On this module, you'll address the ideas that lie behind political approaches to public services and explore the relationship between these ideas and policy. You'll also examine the development of ideological approaches to public services, focusing on some broad approaches, namely, Welfarism, Neoliberalism and 'modernisation', each of which results in the eventual application of political ideology.
  • Public Services Policy
    This module will build on your previous Public Services FdA modules. You'll concentrate on how national, local and internal politics operate in the organisation of selected uniformed public services and investigate the broader ideological and political context of public services. The uniformed public services include a wide range of groups that represent competing ways of understanding their development. This module seeks to identify these groups, to identify your roles and assess your relative importance in relation to the internal and external political environment of the uniformed public services. In this respect, conflicts in public services will be a key theme that you'll consider. You'll focus in particular on up-to-date reporting on public services by the government, interested parties, key stake holders and representative bodies, and how these reports follow a pattern that leads to public service development.

Year three, optional modules

  • Invisible Crimes
    The crimes committed by corporate entities, or those individuals within them, often have a more profound economic, physical and social cost on individuals than those associated with 'conventional' criminal behaviour. The way corporate entities experience the process of criminal justice differs from the experience of individuals and despite increasing media interest, it's often difficult to obtain convictions against businesses that break the law. On this module, you'll explore the difficulty in defining corporate, white-collar and organised crime, and how they have been addressed by criminologists. You'll consider the links in the crime-power-media relationship, examining them through case studies, as well as texts and theories to understand the broader context. For your assignment, you'll select a case related to the subject and critically evaluate its development.
  • Sexuality and Social Control
    On this module, you'll explore the range of discursive practices used to explain sex and sexuality in Western culture. You'll examine long-standing claims about the 'naturalness' of heterosexuality as a reproductive drive linked to the survival and reproduction of the human 'species', and the implications of this for the gendered sexual order, various non-conventional sexualities and particular social groups. Drawing on a 'social constructionist' approach, you'll examine religious, biological, psychological and sociological explanations of sexuality. You'll uncover how sex and sexuality are understood, practised and regulated, and in doing so, expose the ideological and discursive foundations of ideas about sex and sexuality in relation to gender, ethnicity, age and disability. You’ll look at how ideas about sex and sexuality are shaped historically, how they vary cross-culturally and how they impact on us as individuals and members of particular social groups. You'll be assessed through a 3,000 word essay.
  • Sport, Globalisation and International politics
    This module will develop your understanding of the relationship between sport, processes of globalisation, and the sphere of international politics. Broadly speaking, the key themes that you'll consider are ideology, power and control. More specifically, you'll be introduced to a set of key theoretical and conceptual insights relating to globalisation, nationalism and commercialisation early in the module. In later lectures and seminars, you'll apply these insights to particular instances from the sporting world. Specific topics you'll consider include 'race' and racism in sport; the Workers' Sport movement, the role of sport in the colonisation of Africa, the history and politics of FIFA, and a number of national case studies including Catalonia and South Africa. You'll be assessed through a 3,000 word essay.
  • Race, Racism and Cultural Identity
    On this module, you'll explore the sociology of 'race', racism and ethnic divisions. You'll consider three related themes: the social origins and significance of racial and ethnic divisions, the varied causes, contexts and consequences of racism and antiracism, and the cultural consequences of migration. Although your primary substantive focus will be on race relations in contemporary Britain, you will also draw insights from historical and international comparisons. You'll also attend a series of student-led workshops, in which you'll apply sociological knowledge and understanding to current questions of 'race' politics and policy. The topics of these workshop will relate to key module themes, such as: the collection and use of racialised data in the criminal justice system, debates about the usefulness of the concept of institutional racism, and globalised Islam.
  • Specialist Subject: Social Sciences
    This module will familiarise you with problems and issues that are of particular interest to contemporary sociologists. You'll either be offered the chance to engage in depth with an important recent sociological work, or your studies will be theme-based i.e. founded upon an area of sociology which is not taught elsewhere on the curriculum. The approach you take will be similar to a research seminar, in which you'll subject a particular text or theme to close scrutiny, with guidance from the module leader. You'll engage in a detailed study of the arguments presented in the work or topic under consideration, as well as examining responses by others working in the field. Examples of texts that you might consider include: Archer, Realist Social Theory; Fevre, The Demoralization of Western Civilization; Joas, The Creativity of Action; Butler & Scott, Feminists Theorise the Political; and Castelles, End of Millenium.
  • Investigative Psychology
    The psychological study of crime, criminals and victims within a legal framework is known as criminal or forensic psychology. On this module, you'll examine the role that psychology and psychological perspectives can play in the criminal justice process, paying particular attention to the application of psychology to police investigations including the collection, examination and use of investigative information and evidence, as well as to the role of the psychologist in the court room. You'll explore the different ways criminal psychologists contribute to police training, investigations and interviewing as well as their contribution to understanding evidence in the courtroom and how juries process that evidence. You'll also examine and evaluate the challenges and pitfalls of giving such advice. You’ll look at actual case studies designed to familiarise you with the types of criminal cases and associated outputs produced by criminal psychologists in a real world setting. You'll be assessed by way of a poster presentation on an aspect of offender profiling and through a profiling method evaluation.
  • Sociology of Popular Culture
    On this module, you'll look at various contested definitions of 'popular culture' and consider the role it plays in contemporary lives. You'll engage with a range of critical perspectives on popular culture. Some theorists suggest that it is an inferior or 'dumbed down' form of culture, including Matthew Arnold and the Leavises, through to the Frankfurt School of social theorists, and to key writers in the British culturalist tradition. You'll also examine more recent trends in theorising popular culture including globalisation, 'glocalisation' and 'Americanisation'. You’ll look at structuralist and post-structuralist semiotics as well as the theories of Gramsci and more latterly writers such as Barthes, Fiske and Eco. You'll apply these ideas to areas such as popular music and youth subcultures. You'll also look at the relationships between popular culture and gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity before considering how postmodern theories might contribute to our understanding of 'the popular'.
  • Feminist Theory and Practice
    This module will allow you to explore the development of feminist theory and practice from the early 20th century, with a particular focus on the period from the 1960s to the present. You'll predominantly cover British and North American feminism, but will also consider perspectives and activism from other global regions. You'll explore and locate different feminist perspectives including liberal, socialist, intersectional, post-structuralist and post-feminism, but with a particular focus on radical feminism. You'll explore these perspectives in relation to key topics that have been central to feminist struggles, such as the family; male violence against women; concepts of masculinity and femininity; sexuality and reproductive rights; media representation; employment and participation in public life. The key themes include: - Feminist strategies, activism and impact - Men's roles and relationship to feminism - Current issues and the future of feminism. You'll be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, and will need to read in preparation for the seminars. Within seminar discussions, you'll assume collective responsibility for applying course material to a specific area of social life in order to elucidate the development of feminist theory and practice within it, and taking such collective responsibility will be an explicit theme of class discussion throughout the module. Your assessment for this module will take the form of a 500-word case study summary and an essay of a maximum 2,500 words.
  • Youth Justice Controversies
    The Criminal Justice System incorporates a range of functions and agencies that are required to protect the public, uphold justice and the law, maintain public order, exact punishments and censures, recognise and accommodate victims and sustain public confidence. The system is guided by important principles, of which a central aspect is that every individual has rights, whether as suspect, defendant, convict, enforcer, employee, victim, witness or ordinary citizen. On this module, you'll uncover the complexities of the criminal justice system, notably around the issue of youth justice, and discuss theories explaining youth crime and youth culture. You'll analyse competing strategies in youth justice and their outcomes, discussing recent developments in youth justice legislation, policy and practice. You'll reflect on the issue of race, gender and drug abuse, and explore the recent youth justice innovations that have arguably changed the face of young offenders and issues of accountability. Your assessment will comprise a group presentation and a portfolio of patchwork texts.

Assessment

You will show your progress on the course through many different forms of assessment, including essays, presentations, examinations, class tests, case studies, portfolios, work and laboratory books, reports, action plans, and progress files.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences is an academic community of nearly 800 students and teaching staff. Our students are supported by leading practitioners, so you'll always have access to the latest theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as invaluable career advice. Subjects in the Humanities and Social Sciences lead to work in many roles you might not have considered, maybe as a politician, chief executive – or even an inventor.

We organise many activities to help our students prepare for their future, like work placements, study abroad opportunities, talks by acclaimed guest speakers, and research conferences.

We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.

Where can I study?

Cambridge
Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Special events

You’ll have the chance to visit institutions like HMP Whitemoor, Cambridge Crown Court and the local fire services, or help with the training of riot police.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2017/18 (per year)

£9,250

International students, 2017/18 (per year)

£11,700

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

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Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

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If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
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Funding for UK & EU students

We offer most new undergraduate students funding to support their studies and university life. There’s also finance available for specific groups of students.

Grants and scholarships are available for:

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Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements

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International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

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English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

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Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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