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Bachelor of Social Sciences

Seek and solve problems to improve life on earth
Gain skills that impact policy, drive social change and make a real difference to local and global communities. With the UNSW Bachelor of Social Sciences, you'll discover how to bring about positive change through critical analysis and political influence – with a focus on your area of interest. Shape an inclusive tomorrow that’s better for all.
Commencing Terms
Term 1, 2 & 3
3 Year(s)
Delivery Mode
Face-to-face (includes blended)
UAC code 422301
Program code 3325
CRICOS code 110657K
Entry Requirements
ATAR/2023 lowest selection rank
View all admission criteria
2024 Indicative first year full fee
2024 Indicative full fee to complete degree


Are you passionate about social issues and driven to tackle the myriad political, social, environmental and economic challenges that face the world today? With a UNSW Bachelor of Social Sciences degree, you'll discover how to bring about positive change through critical analysis and political influence – with the opportunity to specialise in your area of interest.

Social science explores how societies work – from social systems and institutions to culture and community. As a social scientist, you’ll develop a deep understanding of how people behave and influence the world and use your knowledge to inform public debate and shape the policies that affect society.

Throughout this three-year, full-time degree, you'll build comprehensive knowledge and analytical skills alongside practical experiences to prepare you for a career with real and meaningful impact. You’ll also take advantage of unique projects, work experiences and internships in Australia and overseas.

Key features

Flexibility and variety
Choose among a wide range of social sciences to design a degree that suits your goals and values. Focus on one or two fields that you are passionate about while still having the freedom to explore other exciting areas. Build a solid foundation whether you want to graduate to further study or a professional career. 

Practical experience, here and overseas
Through real-world work experiences, you'll build professional skills and employability that stand out. Gain skills in communication, analysis, ethical decision-making and teamwork through internships and international exchange opportunities with our diverse range of industry partners.

Purpose-driven community
Become part of a collective dedicated to solving local and global issues. Diverse classmates, award-winning teachers, world-renowned researchers, and leading practitioners will support your goals and share knowledge and experiences. Develop influential diplomacy and collaboration skills through student-led organisations and volunteer groups. 

Why study this degree at UNSW?

We are ranked 2nd in Australia and 27th globally for Social Sciences according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024
Design your own degree
  • At UNSW, you’ll be encouraged to follow your passions and tailor your studies to your interests. The Bachelor of Social Sciences allows you to choose from a wide range of majors, with an optional minor, based on your field of interest. You can also combine this program with another study area and complete a fast-tracked double degree.

Connect with like-minded people

  • Find your people at UNSW School of Art, Design and Architecture. With over a dozen clubs to join, you'll connect with fellow creatives who'll support and challenge you to put your passion into practice. 

Realise your full potential, here and overseas

  • Through real-world work experiences, you'll build professional skills and employability that stand out. Study areas like International Studies, Global Development and International Business give you the opportunity to take your studies and skill development overseas through internships and international exchange opportunities with our diverse range of industry partners.

Join a school that’s focused on the future

  • At UNSW Art, Design and Architecture, we're working to build a better future. Our subjects are ranked first in Australia for industry, innovation and infrastructure and 2nd in the world for climate action – in alignment with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.*

*Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023 

Program Code
UAC Code
Total Units of Credit (UOC)

Want to see more from UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture?

Entry requirements

2023 Lowest Selection Rank
2023 A levels
2023 IB Diploma
2023 Lowest ATAR
    1. The 2023 Lowest Selection Rank (LSR) is the adjusted rank (ATAR plus adjustment factors) you would have needed to gain entry to this degree in 2023.
    2. The 2023 A levels score is based on four Advanced Level (A2) subject. Entry scores are calculated from the best three or four A2 subjects (excluding repeated subjects) using the following values: A*=6, A=5, B=4, C=3, D=2, E=1. At most one Applied A Level subject may be included in the best four subjects used to calculate the aggregate.
    3. The 2023 IB Diploma is an indication of the IB you would have needed to gain entry to this degree in 2023. It is to be used as a guide only.
    4. The 2023 Lowest ATAR is the lowest ATAR (before adjustment factors were applied) to which an offer was made. Where <5 is listed, this indicates that less than 5 ATAR-based offers were made and so the score has not been published. N/A indicates no offers were made on the basis of ATAR.
  • At UNSW, we are committed to ensuring prospective students have all the information they need in order to make informed decisions about their study options.

    To assist you in gaining a better understanding of how Admissions works at UNSW, we have provided you with a summary of ATAR offers and the student profile.

    We hope this information will help you identify the degree that is right for you.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Domestic students are eligible to apply for the following volume of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) credits towards their UNSW degree that belong in the Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture:

  • 1-year Diploma: 48 UoC (equivalent to first year)
  • 1.5-year Advanced Diploma/Associate Degree: Up to 72 UoC (equivalent to first year and a half)
  • 2-year Advanced Diploma/Associate Degree: Up to 96 UoC (equivalent to two years)

Considering your previous qualifications and their relevance to the chosen program at UNSW, the type and amount of credit you can apply for, as well as the duration of your remaining program, will then be determined. 

Assessment by the Program Director is required for RPL applications toward Professional Accredited programs. Please note that eligibility for the full volume of RPL may be subject to accreditation requirements.

Portfolio Entry 

At UNSW ADA, you will find the freedom and support to design the future you want. An ADA Portfolio Entry submission will demonstrate your passions alongside your best work, to boost your chances of admission to a bachelor’s degree of your choice. For more information and to see specific guidelines for portfolio submissions visit UNSW Portfolio Entry. 


You don’t need to have completed prerequisite courses, but we do assume you have a Year 12 (or equivalent) level of knowledge.

Assumed knowledge


Adjustment Factors

We offer a range of adjustment factor schemes that reward students for academic performance and extra-curricular achievements. These schemes also take into account a range of personal and educational disadvantages that may have affected your studies. 

HSC Plus 
This scheme rewards students who perform well in Year 12 subjects that are relevant to their preferred UNSW degree. You may be awarded up to five points. 

Elite Athletes, Performers and Leaders (EAPL) 
This program recognises achievements in the areas of sport, academia, leadership and music at an elite level. You may be eligible for up to five points.

Educational Access Scheme (EAS)
Factors such as illness, financial hardship, language difficulties or attending a particular school can mean you don't always get the best possible marks in Years 11 and 12. If one of these situations applies to you, submit an application for the Educational Access Scheme (EAS) via UAC. Eligible students can receive between 1 and 10 points towards their chosen UNSW degree.

Admission pathways

Your ATAR is not the only measure of your potential to succeed, which is why we offer a range of pathways into university. Explore your options below and get in touch with our future student advisors to discuss your path to UNSW. 

Gateway Admission Pathway
This scheme is open to students in Years 11 and 12 who attend Gateway schools. It significantly adjusts the ATAR requirements for your preferred UNSW degree and provides you with an early conditional offer to UNSW. 

Entry programs for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
We offer entry programs for Indigenous Australians, including the Indigenous Preparatory Programs and the Indigenous Admission Scheme (IAS). The entry pathway program you apply for will depend on the degree you want to study. 

English language requirements


You may be asked to provide evidence of your English proficiency to study at UNSW depending on your educational background and citizenship. English language skills are vitally important for coping with lectures, tutorials, assignments and examinations - this is why UNSW requires a minimum English language competency for enrolment.

If you’re completing an Australian Year 12 qualification (e.g. NSW HSC or equivalent), you do not need to provide anything extra to prove your proficiency. Your qualification will be used as evidence of your English proficiency.

If you do need to provide evidence of your English proficiency, this will be indicated in your application. You can prove this by providing evidence that you meet one or more of the following criteria:

If you need to improve your English skills before you start your degree, UNSW College’s Academic English Programs are for you. The programs are suitable for various English levels and help you prepare for university studies and life in Australia.

International direct entry

We do not accept secondary qualifications from this country. We may accept tertiary study results, please contact us for more information.

Please contact us for direct entry requirements.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Typically, international students are eligible to apply for the following volume of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) credits towards their UNSW degree that belong in the Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture:

  • 1-year Diploma: Up to 48 UoC
  • 1.5-year Advanced Diploma/Associate Degree: Up to 72 UoC
  • 2-year Advanced Diploma/Associate Degree: Up to 96 UoC

Generally, International students must ensure that their prior qualifications are assessed and deemed relevant to the program they intend to pursue. Additionally, they are required to maintain a full-time study load as part of the conditions for their Confirmation of Enrolment.


You don’t need to have completed prerequisite courses, but we do assume you have a Year 12 (or equivalent) level of knowledge.

Admission pathways

If you do not meet the requirements for direct entry into your chosen degree, you may be eligible for a pathway program with UNSW College. UNSW College provides alternative entry options using university-approved content so that you can start your UNSW journey with confidence. 

English language requirements

You may be asked to provide evidence of your English proficiency to study at UNSW depending on whether you are from an English-speaking background or non-English speaking background. English language skills are vitally important for coping with lectures, tutorials, assignments and examinations - this is why UNSW requires a minimum English language competency for enrolment.

If English is not your first language, you’ll need to provide proof of your English proficiency before you can be given an offer to study at UNSW. You can do this by providing evidence that you meet one or more of the following criteria:

If you need to improve your English skills before you start your degree, UNSW College’s Academic English Programs are for you. The programs are suitable for various English levels and help you prepare for university studies and life in Australia.

Check the specific English language requirements for this program

Study areas

  • Economics is a constantly changing field that informed and adapts to the world around us. To solve some of our greatest global challenges, you need a sound  understanding of what motivates people, businesses, and governments. Study the analytical tools and gain critical thinking skills that help shape societies, raise living standards, and promote economic growth.  Learn more about studying economics at UNSW.

  • Want to make a change to climate change? One of the greatest questions of our times is how to meet environmental challenges head-on. From species extinction and GMOs to climate change and nuclear power – immerse yourself in the social, cultural, and political factors shaping human relations with the natural world. Learn more about environmental humanities.

  • Throughout history, structures that govern and shape our societies – such as religion, politics, and the justice system – have disadvantaged women and other diverse communities. If we want to bring about meaningful structural change and social justice, we need to understand the foundations of these inequalities. Learn about crucial cultural, political, economic, and human rights shifts that are happening now and find out what you can do to improve the future. Learn more about gender studies

  • The relationship between people, societies, and the environment underpins the greatest global challenges of our time. As a human geographer, you will explore how physical, social, cultural, economic, and political factors shape places and people. Together, we will discover how we can plan for a better future by combining classroom study with hands-on experience in the field. Learn more about geographical studies.

  • Why are some countries developing so quickly while others seem left behind? Global development looks at the impact of change across social, political, and economic environments. Explore issues from urbanisation to widening disparity, environmental threats, and the dominance of communication technologies. Learn the many ways we can create practical and positive change at local, national, and global levels. Learn more about studying global development at UNSW.

  • With a global mindset and a passion for humane solutions, you can help people in need with diverse engineering skills. Humanitarian engineering connects people with problems, addresses disadvantaged communities worldwide, and stands at the frontline of improving lives and livelihoods. This practical field works toward solutions that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework, and international humanitarian relief efforts. Learn more about studying humanitarian engineering at UNSW.

  • What makes human resource management so rewarding? A company is only as good as its people, and human resource management provides the foundation for ongoing success. Develop effective and responsible management skills in various workforce issues – performance, change, health and safety, and beyond. Build the people skills that set you up for success in a diverse and rewarding career. Learn more about human resource management at UNSW.

  • Gain an understanding of diverse First Nation cultures and societies. This program begins with exploring traditional and current Indigenous knowledge and philosophy, and how popular media and cultural institutions portray Indigenous identities. Without straying from Australia’s imperial origin, you’ll examine the role of public policy in shaping communities and peoples’ resistance, activism, and political organisation. You’ll critically analyse past and current policies to understand how they are made, what factors influence their development, and their impact on society. Learn more about Indigenous studies at UNSW.

  • How does innovation impact and transform businesses and society at large? It drives productivity, competitive advantage, differentiation, growth, profitability, and sustainability. Understand and meet these challenges with strong leadership skills that help shape the future of organisations worldwide. Learn how to lead with confidence, discover new opportunities, turn insights into action, and design business strategies that create, capture, and deliver value. Learn more about innovation, strategy and entrepreneurship at UNSW.

  • The world has never been more connected thanks to globalisation and technology changing how we engage and do business. Make the most of this evolution by becoming a professional globetrotter with borderless boardrooms at your fingertips. Change how the world does business as you make the most of your strong foundation in business, commerce, and economics. Learn more about studying international business at UNSW.

  • Migration, the climate crisis, and new ideas are shaping the world and challenging international organisations like never before. What do these developments mean for society? Learn to think creatively about governing solutions for significant challenges - from adapting to global economic changes to managing refugee intakes, human rights, security, and environmental crises. 

    You'll also be able to learn another language and study overseas with one of our 300 global partner institutions. Learn more about international studies at UNSW. 

  • From design, branding, advertising, and communication; to digital marketing and analytics – marketing is a future-focused area of study, with strategic thinking and innovation at its core. Learn how data helps businesses stand out, understand customer behaviour, provide different experiences, and meet customer needs. You'll have opportunities to apply your new knowledge in real-world professional and creative environments. Learn more about marketing at UNSW.

  • The new media landscape is vast and complex, spanning social, mobile, on-demand, and rapidly evolving platforms. Throughout your studies, you'll learn about media's social, political, and cultural dynamics and its impact on technology and everyday life. You'll also discover the complex relationships between local and global media and the role of diverse audiences in media processes. Learn more about media, culture & technology at UNSW.

  • Learn or even master a language, gain cross-cultural competences, and learn from other countries and societies. The study of language and cultures enriches your global perspective and opens you up to international opportunities. You can choose from Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, modern Greek, and Spanish.  We strongly recommend choosing a language  to complement your study in International studies. Learn more about studying languages at UNSW.

  • Lead differently and make an impact with a degree focused on complex governments and global politics. Discover how to think critically about the challenges facing our world today. Unpack complicated international issues and create meaningful solutions. Understand the forces driving political developments, so you can recognise future opportunities to make real and positive change. Learn more about studying politics and international relations at UNSW.

  • What makes life meaningful? Why do we disagree, and why do we care? What brings about social change? Answers to these questions differ depending on who you ask, but finding new insights is crucial to navigating reality's conflicts and challenges. Join Australia's oldest sociology department and discover insights from diverse cultures and the lived human experience. Learn more about studying sociology and anthropology at UNSW.

Study overseas

Broaden your horizons and study overseas for a term. Choose an international exchange at one of 300 UNSW university partners in more than 38 countries. UNSW encourages a global mindset – which means overseas study is credited toward your degree with us, and you may also be eligible for financial support to help cover costs.

Program structure

The Bachelor of Social Sciences structure allows you to combine in-depth knowledge of study areas with the skills to identify and use evidence for practice and policy. The degree is offered two ways. Either as a major in your chosen field alongside free electives or the other offers a major plus a minor. Regardless of the structure you choose, there are 24 courses in your degree. You’ll typically study eight courses a year if you study full time. You can also study part time to take advantage of a flexible study load.

    • A set of required core courses underpin the Bachelor of Social Sciences. These eight courses are focused on how social, political, and cultural change are put into practice. You will complement the learnings of your study area by understanding how and why policies benefit societies. Experience in the workplace, or as we call it Work Integrated Learning, is part of the core requirements in the third year of this degree. 

      In addition to an engaging set of research and policy related core courses and tailored work-integrated learning, you can choose one of these options: 

    • In this structure, you’ll choose one major study area and from a range of elective courses across UNSW. This option puts the control in your hands to customise your studies to suit your interests and goals.  

      In this degree, a major is eight courses that focus on one study area. The courses begin at an introductory level and then build depth and breadth to develop your theoretical knowledge and technical skills. Some courses in a major are compulsory, known as core courses.

    • In this structure, you’ll choose two study areas. One as a major (eight courses), and the other a minor (six courses). This provides you a structure to study two different or complimentary study areas at depth.

      For example, should you wish to put your energy toward resolving the climate crisis, you might major in environmental humanities and minor in marketing. If you choose to major in international studies, we strongly recommend choosing a minor in a foreign language.

    • A degree combines compulsory courses and courses that you’ll select from a variety of options. The courses you select are called electives, and there are three types: prescribed, free, and general education.

      Prescribed electives are part of your major or minor. Free electives  are courses that can be on any topic, from any part of UNSW. General education is also any topic, as its purpose is to elevate your academic skills to a tertiary competence.

      You’ll normally study two general education courses in a bachelor’s degree. The number of free and prescribed electives will depend on how many courses are in the degree structure and study areas that you’ve chosen. 

    • With this degree, you'll choose and develop specialist skills and knowledge in one comprehensive area of study. You'll have the freedom and flexibility to complement your specialisation with a minor or elective courses from other approved study areas.

    • Whether you want to study more or fewer courses in any term, the choice is yours. Our flexible academic calendar means you can graduate faster or take your time to study abroad, complete an additional internship, or fit your study around other commitments.

    • Whether you have a learning difficulty or could benefit from extra guidance, you'll find free UNSW academic skills support such as toolkits, tutors, and workshops. UNSW Arts, Design and Architecture students and academics are supportive, diverse, and inclusive – it's easy to ask for advice. 

When you complete a bachelor’s degree, you’ll be eligible for further study at a postgraduate level. If you’d like further information about this degree and its learning outcomes have a look at our student handbook.

Social science careers

More than just a foot in the door or a pathway towards landing your first job, this degree will set you up with the professional, analytical and personal skills you’ll need to thrive throughout your career. Take your learnings and turn them into a career that celebrates your purpose and values.

Career opportunities

  • Advocate
  • Campaign manager
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official
  • International business consultant
  • Local government official
  • Non-government organisation official
  • Policy analyst
  • Political adviser
  • Political journalist
  • Project officer
  • Program manager
  • Research consultant
  • Research officer
  • Tourism and trade adviser
  • United Nations official 

Explore your career options

Many career options lie ahead in your future. If you don’t know what you want to do yet, it’s ok. University is the time to test your ideas, discover potential career paths, or develop the knowledge to create a job that doesn’t even exist yet. 

Along with flexible course options, degrees from UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture include opportunities to experiment with professional roles in internships and work placements. Wherever the future takes you, you’ll be set for life with experience and contacts among your classmates, lecturers, and UNSW graduates worldwide.

Our alumni


“I've always been pushed to do my best. And it's nice that there are people around who are just as motivated as you. Not only to learn but also to do well, because where we stand in our own context will always influence the way we write and the way we see the world. 

I think that's the beauty of learning how to be critical and research and analyse because with social sciences… humanity is so complicated, and there are so many shades of grey. So, the chance to understand the world from somebody else's perspective, I think, is a unique one. And one that always serves you well.”

Nimaya Mallikahewa 
Graduate Policy Officer

Double degrees

Combine talents and passions to open future opportunities suited to your unique strengths. Despite the name, double degrees are not double the workload! You'll study core courses in two areas of expertise, graduating with two qualifications in less time than it takes to complete two consecutive degrees. 

Double your knowledge, skills, and career options with the Bachelor of Social Sciences and:

How to apply

Applications for undergraduate study from domestic students (Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents, Australian permanent humanitarian visa holders and New Zealand citizens) are processed by the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC).

Visit the Apply section of the UAC website and you can nominate up to five degrees in order of preference, with the first being your most desired degree and university.

On-time applications for admission usually close at the end of September each year for Term 1 admission. Late applications can be submitted, but a late fee will apply. For study starting in Term 1, the majority of offers are made in December and January. Visit the UAC website for key dates for admission outside of Term 1.

Ready to apply?

For most international students, applications are submitted via our Apply Online service. We encourage you to submit your completed application as early as possible to ensure it will be processed in time for your preferred term.

Some high-demand programs with limited places, may have an earlier application deadline or may have an earlier commencement date. For more information visit our international applicant information page.

*If you are an international student studying an Australian qualification, go to the Universities Admission Centre (UAC) for application and UAC key dates. Note: If you are under 18 years of age, you need to make special arrangements. Read more.

Ready to apply?

Fees & Scholarships

2024 Indicative First Year Full Fee
2024 Indicative Full Fee to Complete Degree

Commonwealth Supported Place: Student Contribution Band 2

*The student contribution for a Commonwealth Supported Place is an indication only of the amount payable in Year 1 based on a standard full-time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). The actual student contribution you will be liable for depends on your individual program of study and the calendar year in which you enrol. Actual fees are calculated upon enrolment. Student contribution amounts are subject to annual review by the university and may increase each year during your studies (subject to caps determined by the Australian Government), effective at the start of each calendar year.

The indicative fees listed here are based on an estimated average and are for tuition only - other fees and charges are not included.

2024 Indicative First Year Fee
2024 Indicative Fee to Complete Degree

*Fees are subject to annual review by the University and may increase annually, with the new fees effective from the start of each calendar year. The indicative fees listed here are based on an estimated average and are for tuition only other fees and charges are not included. The amount you pay will vary depending on the calendar year to enrol, the courses you select and whether your study load is more or less than 1 Equivalent Full Time Student Load (8 courses per year).

Indicative fees are a guide for comparison only based on current conditions and available data. You should not rely on indicative fees. More information on fees can be found at the UNSW fees website.

Indicative fees to complete the program have been calculated based on a percentage increase for every year of the program. Fee increases are assessed annually and may exceed the indicative figures listed here.

Indicative fees to complete the program include tuition plus an estimate of study-related costs of approximately $1,000 per year. To find out more about other costs, visit UNSW International.


At UNSW, we award over $83 million in scholarships each year. We pride ourselves on rewarding excellence and making university accessible to students from all walks of life. Whether you’re a domestic or international student, our range of scholarships, prizes and awards can support your journey.

Top 20

QS World University Rankings, 2024.

Employable Graduates

AFR Top 100 Future leaders Award.


#1 Australian uni attended by start-up founders.

The student community collectively inspire and encourage my individual career goals.
ADA alumni Shirelle Altona

Shirelle Altona

Current Student

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Career Support

Take action in a complex world

Through UNSW’s Arts degree you’ll hone your interests and dive into the social sciences, arts and humanities fields you’re passionate about.
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