Understanding Society: A Pathway to Further Study

The application deadline for the course starting in October 2018 has now closed; however, we are still accepting applications and expect a small number of places to be available to late applicants. Please get in touch on understanding-society@bristol.ac.uk if you wish to apply.

About the course

The course will run on 14 Tuesday evenings, 6 pm to 9 pm, from Tuesday 30 October 2018. You do not need to have any prior qualifications to apply. The most important thing is to explain in your personal statement (in the Understanding Society application pack (PDF, 388kB)) why you would like to study on the course. The course will be led by Emily Moreton, with contributions from a range of subject experts and advice and support on applying for further study at Bristol or elsewhere.

What it’s all about?

This course is for anyone interested in making sense of the society that we live in and how social and public policies can make a difference to people's lives. It's an interactive course, covering a wide range of topics, from social inequalities, to the general election; September 11th to the justice system; protests, the environment, and what it really means to be part of society. The course will draw on participants' and tutors' experiences, social and conventional media, research projects, and a wide range of other sources, to inform our debate and discussions in class. There will also be opportunities to develop your study skills – including note-taking, essay writing and participating in discussion.

How to apply

The Understanding Society application pack (PDF, 388kB) contains all the information you need in order to apply. Complete and sign the Understanding Society application form (2018-19) (Office document, 1,940kB), and post it back to the address printed at the end or send it to us by email to understanding-society@bristol.ac.uk.

If you have any questions about the contents of the pack or about applying, please get in touch with us on the same email address.

What happens next?

There may be various routes into further study beyond this course and we will offer advice and support on the options. Two options at Bristol University may be especially relevant:

  • If you feel confident about starting a degree straight away, you can apply for one of the undergraduate courses in School for Policy Studies.
  • If you feel like you need a bit more preparation before starting an undergraduate degree, you can apply for the Foundation Year In Arts and Humanities, a way into university for people without formal qualifications.

The course tutor and course director will advise you on your options, and support your application to any of these programmes. You can find out more about mature students at Bristol University here: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/mature/

The course will encourage you to develop skills in:

  • Reading a range of sources. We’ll be looking at lots of different types of sources which help shed light on our society.
  • Discussion: There will be an emphasis on class discussion and debate as well as on critical analysis of the sources. This is a great way to improve confidence and to start thinking about what you are reading. This leads towards…
  • Essay writing: We’ll be focusing in the opening weeks of the course on planning and writing essays: so don’t panic if you haven’t written one before or if you are out of practice!

How much does it cost?

The enrolment fee for this course is £350. We have a number of bursaries available to help students who may be unable to pay the course fee in full. If you apply for a bursary, you will be asked to complete a short form which will be assessed by the Student Funding Office.


For more information, please download the Understanding Society application pack (PDF, 388kB) for entry in October 2018.


For further information, please email understanding-society@bristol.ac.uk.

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