At their core, the social sciences explore the framework in which social groups – families, friends, communities – move and interact. When viewed in this light, this is an area of study that applies to virtually every field imaginable. Students in Asia who earn a degree in the social sciences can leverage their credentials in markets all over the world.
Nicholas Christakis, a physician and social scientist from Harvard University, conducts monumental research in the social sciences, and particularly on human social networks (not just the Facebook and Twitter variety). He explores the patterns through which people tie themselves into social groups.
When Christakis speaks at seminars and conventions, he often uses an enlightening analogy about carbon atoms to explain the thrust of his research. He points out that two well-known substances – graphite and diamonds – are both composed entirely of carbon atoms. However, arrange those atoms in one configuration, and you get a sheet of soft and dark graphite. Change the configuration, and you’re left with white and incredibly hard diamond. It’s not the atoms that have changed; it’s just the way that they connect to each other.
Christakis says that people organize themselves in much the same way. The same people organized in a different way can serve a very different purpose. These social networks and organizational patterns can be used as a resource or, as Christakis refers to it, a type of “social capital”. In such a way, the social sciences help us better understand the societies in which we carry out our lives.
Careers in social science
Completing a degree in social sciences demonstrates flexibility and shows potential employers that you’re an adaptable learner. In the course of completing a university degree in one of these fields, students develop strong research skills and a penchant for teamwork, critical thinking, communication and organization, among many other highly marketable skills.
Social science applications in marketing, commerce, governing and policymaking are easy to envision. Research conducted through schools of social science is making headway in all of these areas. It tells us how consumers decide where to spend their money; how new policies can stimulate economies; or how entire populations or select demographics respond to new legislation. This sort of knowledge is invaluable.
Graduates enter their careers with a toolbox of skills that many of their peers do not possess. This fact is not lost on employers. Even when a particular employer is not explicitly looking for a social sciences degree holder, the rubrics and criteria their inform selection process are going to pick up on the very skills that are taught in schools of social science. With that in mind, graduates qualify for a variety of careers.
Choosing the best social sciences program
Many Asian students interested in earning a degree in the social sciences look to universities in North America, the UK and Australia. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the social sciences and the need to draw upon multiple fields of study to sample data, craft theory and implement programs, many of the best programs are operated by large universities that operate multiple faculties.
The following are among the leading social sciences programs for Asian students:
CARDIFF METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY, SCHOOL OF HEALTH SCIENCES
Located on Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Llandaff Campus, the School of Health Sciences provides a comprehensive selection of professionally recognised health science programs. Backed by internationally recognised research and first-class facilities, the health sciences programmes at Cardiff Met attract a diverse body of international students. Read the full profile here…
DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is one of the oldest and largest faculties at Canada’s Dalhousie University, with a longstanding tradition of excellence and innovation. It operates 35 distinct academic programs and employs around 200 professors. This allows for thousands of courses, exploring everything from Gender Theory to Global Politics, with opportunities in between to master a foreign language, hone writing skills or delve into contemporary philosophy. Read the full profile here…
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN, SCHOOL OF POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
One of the leading research-intensive universities in Europe, The University College Dublin offers dynamic social sciences coursework through the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe). The academic staff conduct world-leading research that are shaping international policy on human rights and ethno-political conflict.
THE UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL, COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES
The College of Humanities is UKZN’s biggest; in fact, it’s often referred to as “the soul of the university”. In all, the college is comprised of six schools across three of the university’s five campuses. The multicultural atmosphere of UKZN fosters an engaging social sciences atmosphere.
UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA SOCIAL SCIENCES FACULTY
One of Australia’s Group of Eight universities, UWA operates one of the leading social sciences programs in the Asia-Pacific region. Undergraduate coursework encompasses a comprehensive selection of fields, including Asian Studies and Languages, Political Science, Anthropology, Archeology, Sociology, Media Studies and International Relations.