BA Global Social Challenges / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course description

Hannah Watts, BA Criminology

The range of expert teaching available is so unique at Manchester.

The lecturers are leading academics which not only means they are enthusiastic about their work, but you know you are really learning from the best. They provide you with support and for me, they really pushed me to achieve higher. When I talk to people from other universities they are shocked when I say that we have learnt how to code in a programme called R and that for my dissertation I am analysing tweets. This just shows that Manchester really offers a wide range of topics and really puts you ahead of others

Hannah Watts / BA Criminology

BA Global Social Challenges is a first-of-its-kind transdisciplinary programme in the School of Social Sciences at The University of Manchester.

The central aim of this programme is to equip students with skills to understand and tackle challenges that result in globally significant harms. Contemporary global challenges include complex issues such as:

  • Social injustice;
  • conflicts and violence;
  • climate change;
  • the migration and displacement of people.
Students on this programme will learn to analyse and approach these challenges using perspectives from across the social sciences, including law, economics, politics, philosophy, sociology and social statistics.

As students progress through the degree, they will learn about and critically analyse the local, national, international and global responses to the pressing challenges societies across the globe face, as well as how these responses create new problems of their own.

By graduation students will have built their own areas of expertise and will have gained the key knowledge, skills and expertise to work across national and international organisations, governmental bodies and the third sector.

Special features

Unparalleled connections

Our School of Social Sciences brings together experts from across eight disciplines which influence the topic of Global Social Challenges. Our academics are leaders in their fields and boast strong connections to international institutions, such as the UN, the WTO and the EU, affording our students outstanding insight and connection to the real-world implications of their studies.

Hands-on learning

This course emphasises practical and transferable skills that graduates can apply to their careers. Many of the core units are skills-focused and you will practice the real-life application of your knowledge. There will also be opportunities to learn from sources from beyond academia, such as guest speakers and field trips.

Professional Experience Year

You can apply to boost your employability through a paid Professional Experience Year. If you meet the criteria, the Professional Experience Team will work with you to find a suitable placement. You will then complete your Professional Experience Year in 3rd year before returning to university to finish your studies in a 4th year of your degree. Your degree title will be extended to include 'with Professional Experience', giving you an added advantage when entering the jobs market.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through traditional and participatory methods including:

  • interactive workshops with your peer group on a series of core units each year;
  • lectures and seminars;
  • small group learning;
  • individual tutorials;
  • self-study materials;
  • group collaboration and teamwork. 

Coursework and assessment

You will be assessed through methods including:

  • presentations;
  • blog posts / vlogs;
  • podcasts;
  • team projects;
  • essays;
  • coursework;
  • dissertation.

Course content for year 1

In your first year, you will learn about a range of contemporary global challenges and begin to identify social harms created by them. You will consider if, how and why social injustice is a pressing global concern, and you will learn to critically appreciate the obstacles and impediments to social justice.

In addition to the core units/modules available on your degree you will be able to take units from different areas, including from the School of Social Sciences, as well as courses from the University College for Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL) which includes language courses.

Course content for year 2

In the second year, you will begin to specialise and extend the depth of your knowledge, particularly in how global social challenges can be tackled. You will analyse how challenges are governed on national and international scales and will develop understanding into the international obligations people and nations have towards these problems. You will also explore these challenges in relation to case studies of violence and ‘The State’, where an optional field trip to Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau will help further illustrate the issues at hand.

During Year 2 of the programme, students will have the option to go on a part-university funded international fieldtrip to Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, to learn more about the infamous Nazi death camp and the Holocaust. Given that the subject theme of Year 2 is ‘violence’ which includes case studies of state violence and genocide, the fieldtrip will provide an opportunity for students to visualise key course content and to deepen their understanding of how and why genocide occurs. Students will also have some free time to explore the beautiful city of Krakow and learn more about its history and culture.

The School of Social Sciences will contribute to the costs of this optional fieldtrip. After this contribution, the maximum projected cost to students would be £350. This money would cover return travel from Manchester to Krakow, a coach transfer to the hotel in Krakow, 3x nights’ accommodation in Krakow, and a guided tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau. For students facing significant financial difficulties, there may be additional funding available for the fieldtrip – this would be decided on a case-by-case basis. 

Course content for year 3

In your final year, you will build on the interests and areas of expertise that you have developed in year two. You will assess governance problems with global challenges, including the role of civil society and the secondary harms associated with solutions to perceived problems. You will learn to evaluate to what extent harms can be addressed by interventions on levels from the local to the global, and you will apply independent research skills to a final year dissertation project.

Scholarships and bursaries

Three scholarships of £2,000 per year are available to international students.

During Year 2 of the programme, students will have the option to go on a part-university funded international fieldtrip to Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. The School of Social Sciences will contribute to the costs of this optional fieldtrip. After this contribution, the maximum projected cost to students would be £350.

You can get information and advice on student finance to help you manage your money.

Scholarships and bursaries are available to eligible Home/EU students, including the Manchester Bursary . This bursary is in addition to the government package of maintenance grants.


Students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities. This includes learning environments such as lecture halls and classrooms designed for workshops, software needed to engage with course material, computer clusters for data analysis skills, and library space for use of computers, subject material and relevant skills training. Facilities include the John Rylands Research Library and Institute, one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the UK, and the 24/7 Alan Gilbert Learning Commons where students can study, collaborate, eat and even sleep.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email for more information.