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Degree type


Course length

3 or 4 years full time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Please note: Courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Applicants will be informed of any changes which we are required to make to course entries as a result of Covid-19.

Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level A*AA
International Baccalaureate 38

Course details

Combined Honours in Social Sciences provides fantastic flexibility and choice across Durham’s breadth of world-renowned research-led education, allowing you to create a bespoke, academically ambitious degree suited to your individual interests, strengths and career plans.

Our Combined Honours degree enables you to choose modules from two, three or even four subjects, enabling you to develop your expertise or to explore new interests. The course provides a flexible, multidisciplinary framework with the opportunity to spend a year abroad or on a work placement, preparing you for your career ambitions.

You will be focusing on subjects in the Social Sciences, but you can take up to half of your credits in the Arts and Humanities.

In the Social Sciences, the subjects currently available to you are:

  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Business
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Geography
  • International Relations
  • Politics
  • Sociology and Criminology
  • Sport.

Please note it is not possible to study Business and Economics alone or Politics and International Relations alone – for these combinations you would need to look at courses offered by the Business School or School of Government and International Affairs, respectively.

In the Arts and Humanities, the subjects currently available to you are:

  • Classics and Ancient History
  • English Literature
  • History
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Theology and Religious Studies
  • Visual Arts
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Russian
  • Spanish.

Year 1

In your first year, you will choose 120 credits (typically six 20 credit modules) from two, three or four subjects.

Year 2

In your second year, you will choose 120 credits from two, three or four subjects.

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a Year Abroad)

In your final year, you will undertake a major Research Project, and choose additional modules up to a total of 120 from two or three subjects.

Social Sciences subjects

Department of Anthropology

Anthropology offers pathways in cultural anthropology and physical anthropology, and a range of modules concerned with material culture, the physical and social evolution of humans, and topics such as medical anthropology and development anthropology.

Department of Archaeology

Archaeology provides the opportunity to focus on particular periods and places, through prehistoric archaeology, Roman archaeology, medieval and post-medieval archaeology, and the archaeology of Britain, Europe, Egypt, India, and the Near East, and also to study the employment of scientific methods in archaeology.

Business School

A series of modules focusing on entrepreneurship, management, and governance. Economics offers the opportunity to study microeconomics and macroeconomics, and topics such as the history of economic thought, environmental economics, development economics, monetary economics, and the economics of social policy.

School of Education

Education offers the opportunity to study central issues in school and higher education, involving the study of the historical, philosophical, psychological, sociological, and political dimensions of educational theory and practice, and the development of the social sciences in the modern and postmodern periods.

Department of Geography

Geography offers a pathway in human geography, and a range of modules concerned with geographical theory and methods and special topics such as urban transformation, environmental change, development, and hazard and risk.

School of Government and International Affairs

Politics and International Relations offers the opportunity to study politics, in Europe, the USA, the Middle East, and the Far East, the history of political thought, comparative government, international relations, with a special emphasis on the Middle East and the Far East, and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies.

Department of Sociology

Sociology offers the opportunity to study modules in sociology, including theories and methods, social structures, social policy, social exclusion, and the sociology of health, the city, and popular music, and in criminology, including theories and methods, crime and deviance, policing, sociology of punishment, and the criminal justice system.

Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Sport offers a series of modules on the sociology of sport and on sport and social policy.

Arts and Humanities subjects

Department of Classics and Ancient History

Classics and Ancient History offers the opportunity to study, in translation, the history, philosophy, literature and culture of the ancient world, and to study Greek and Latin at several different levels, opening up the literature of the Greek and Roman worlds in their original languages.

Department of English Studies

English Literature offers the opportunity to study specific literary genres, including poetry, drama, and the novel, and the literatures of specific periods, including Medieval, Renaissance, Romantic, Victorian, and Modern Literature, as well as studies in the theory and practice of literary criticism.

Department of History

History offers the opportunity to study medieval, early modern, and late modern history, through a range of modules in economic, social, religious, cultural, political, and diplomatic history, focusing on Britain, continental Europe, Africa, China, and the USA.

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

The principal languages are Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish, and each offers core language modules and ‘culture’ modules which cover a broad range of themes in history, politics, literature, film, the media, linguistics, translation, and interpreting.

Students who are not specialising in one or more modern languages can study a number of languages, currently including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish, at various levels, from beginners’ to advanced level, in the School’s Centre for Foreign Language Study (CFLS).

Department of Music

Music offers the opportunity to study musicology, including the history of music, music theory and analysis, and ethnomusicology, and, where these are studied alongside musicology, performance, composition, and other practice-based disciplines.

Department of Philosophy

Philosophy offers the opportunity to study many of the principal philosophical disciplines, including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics, and also the history and philosophy of science and medicine.

Department of Theology and Religion

Theology and Religious Studies offers the opportunity to take modules in biblical studies, Christian theology, including the history of theology, contemporary theology, the philosophy of religion, and ethics, and religious studies, including the sociology and anthropology of religion.

Visual Art

Visual Art combines high-level critical and historical study of visual arts and film with a range of practical skills.

Your choice of modules is subject to availability, timetable constraints, and the approval of the Director of Combined Honours in Social Sciences. You will also need to meet subject-specific requirements.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Study abroad

The Year Abroad (Modern Languages)

If, in the first year, you are taking Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, or Spanish, and you intend to continue studying one or more of these languages throughout your degree, you will insert a ‘Year Abroad’ into your course of study between your second year and your final year. The Year Abroad offers you an opportunity to study at a university, or to teach English in a secondary school, or to undertake an internship, in a wide variety of locations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, or Latin America. You will be transferred from the three-year to the four-year version of your degree course at the end of your first year, giving you over a year in which to plan the Year Abroad, in consultation with your advisers in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. If, however, you later decide to stop studying a language, at the end of your second year, you will transfer back to the three-year version of the course.

Alternatively, you can study a language through the School’s Centre for Foreign Language Study (CFLS). The Centre teaches a number of European and Asian languages at beginners’, intermediate, and advanced levels but these do not lead to a Year Abroad.

Other opportunities for Study Abroad

We have established exchanges with many international partner universities, and opportunities for you to spend a year studying abroad are now multiplying as more and more of these exchanges are created. Combined Social Sciences students are in a particularly good position to take advantage of these opportunities, since you are studying several subjects, and would, therefore, be ‘at home’ studying in universities throughout much of the English-speaking world. You must compete for Study Abroad places, and so it is not possible to guarantee that everyone who wishes to study in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, or Australia, for example, will be able to do so as part of their course. If early in the second year, you are offered a Study Abroad place, you will be transferred from the three-year to the four-year version of your degree, and spend your third year studying abroad before returning to Durham for your fourth and final year.

Placement Year

All Combined Social Sciences students have the opportunity to undertake an optional placement year during their time at Durham. Similarly to the ‘Year Abroad’, this will extend your degree by a year and take place between your second and final year extending your degree to four years. Supported by the Faculty Placement Officer, you will be encouraged to secure an opportunity which aligns with your broader career aspirations and compliments your degree.

Due to the flexibility of the degree, Combined Social Science students are in a strong position to work for a range of organisations from multi-national corporations, government agencies, NGOs and small businesses. Suitable placement opportunities can take place in the UK or internationally meaning that students are still able to have a global experience during their degree. The Combined Honours Staff, Faculty Placement Officer and Careers and Enterprise Centre support students before, during and after their placement year and students retain their student status for the year on placement.


With this degree, you can design your own programme of study, so depending on your choices you learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical classes, fieldwork, excavation, informal but scheduled one-on-one support, and self-directed learning, such as research, reading, and writing.

All of are supported by a virtual learning environment, Durham University Online (DUO). Seminars, workshops, and practical classes are much smaller groups than lectures. In some subjects practicals also allow hands-on experience of the work of professionals in the disciplines studied on the course.

The emphasis on small-group and practical teaching reflects a conscious choice to enhance the quality of the learning experience rather than the number of formal sessions. Small-group teaching and one-on-one attention from your personal academic adviser (provided when you start) are part of the learning experience throughout, by the final year classroom time gives way to independent research, including a dissertation, supported by one-on-one supervision that makes up a third of your final year credits. This degree transforms you from a consumer of knowledge in the classroom to a generator of knowledge, ready for professional or postgraduate life.

These formal teaching arrangements are supported by “drop-in” surgeries with teaching staff and induction sessions that begin the week before you start and continue at key times throughout each year of the course.

You can also attend an extensive programme of research-focused seminars where staff and visiting scholars in various academic departments present their cutting-edge research.

Assessment methods vary and depend on your module and subject choices but typically include examinations, essays, presentations and research projects.

Entry requirements

A level offer – A*AA.

If you would like to study:

  • Economics, an A in A level Mathematics is required.
  • English Literature, History or Music a grade A at A level (or equivalent) is required in the subject.
  • Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Russian or Spanish at an advanced level, a grade A at A level (or equivalent) in the language is required.
  • Arabic, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish ab initio, a grade A at A level (or equivalent) in any modern foreign language is required.
  • Chinese or Japanese ab initio, a grade A at A level (or equivalent) in a modern foreign language is desirable but not essential.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – D*DD and subject specific A levels (or equivalent) as above.

IB Diploma score – 38 with 666 in higher level subjects. There are also higher level subject requirements. Students wishing to study the subjects listed above would need to achieve Higher Level grade 6 in the subject. For students wishing to study Economics we are happy to accept either Higher Level grade 6 or Standard Level grade 7 in Mathematics. Mathematical Studies is not acceptable.

After we have received your application we will send you a link, which you will need to follow to submit your subject choices. We will use this information to establish that you have satisfied, or will satisfy, any special requirements for studying these subjects, and to assist us in the evaluation of your personal statement.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study.

  • We are happy to consider applications for deferred entry.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £9,250 per year
EU students £22,500 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £22,500 per year

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Combined Honours in Social Sciences

Of those students who graduated in 2018:

  • 91% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 86% are in a professional or managerial job
  • Average salary of £27,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information

Combined Honours in Social Sciences

Studying a Combined degree at Durham can provide considerable flexibility and choice across Durham University’s breadth of world-renowned, research-led education. It allows you to create an academically ambitious degree, suited to your individual interests, strengths and career plans.

Our Combined Honours in Social Sciences degree enables you to choose modules from two, three or even four subjects across the social sciences, arts and humanities, enabling you to develop your expertise or to explore new interests.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 90% of courses are in the UK Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2020.
  • Top 40 globally for employer reputation in the QS World University Rankings 2020.
  • Top 100 in the QS World University Rankings 2022.


For a current list of staff, please see the course pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Ranked joint 1st in the UK for Internationally Excellent and World-leading research impact (REF 2014).


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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