Public Service (Top-Up) BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (1 year)


January 2017, September 2017


Top up your FdA or HND Public Service to an honours degree on this course co-created by public service employers. Advance your skills and knowledge in specialist areas such as youth justice and psychology, and find out what drives policy in the UK’s public services today.

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Full description


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.

Modules & assessment

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.

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.


We will assess the knowledge and understanding you gain from the course in a number of ways, including poster presentations, progress files, essays, case studies and projects.

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?

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, 2016/17 (per year)


International students, 2016/17 (per year)


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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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

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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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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

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