'World's first' social change undergraduate degree launched by university and charities

Queen Mary University of London has set up the four-year course with charities including Action for Children, WaterAid, the Scouts and the NCVO

Queen Mary University of London (Photograph: Justin Kase z12z/Alamy)
Queen Mary University of London (Photograph: Justin Kase z12z/Alamy)

This story has been clarified, please see final paragraph for details.

The world’s first social change undergraduate degree has been launched by Queen Mary University of London.

The degree course, which welcomed its first 13 students this week, will allow students to work apprenticeships at a number of partner charities and has been specifically designed for the voluntary and social sectors.

The four-year course also aims to address the lack of diversity in the upper echelons of the charity sector and the dearth of trainee and graduate development schemes in the sector.

The course had 500 applicants, the university said, with 10 of the 13 successful candidates coming from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background and six being women.

Partner charities for the course include the Alzheimer’s Society, Action for Children, WaterAid, Mind, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Samaritans, the Prince’s Trust, the gambling charity YGAM, the arts and science charity the RSA and the Scouts, whose chief executive Matt Hyde was closely involved in the design of the programme. 

Students will split their time between university study and employment with the partner charities, and will get a competitive wage and zero student debt.

The charities have also co-designed the course curriculum with the university and participating charities will be able to contribute case studies and master classes.

Philippa Lloyd, vice-principal at Queen Mary University, said: "You have generations growing up now, the Greta Thunbergs of this world, who want to take action to make the world a better place. They want to make a social impact as well as an economic impact. That is what this is tapping into.

"I think that diversity is really important and getting it into senior leadership, not just of charities."

The headline on this article has been clarified to state that the QMUL programme is the first undergraduate degree in social change, not the first degree, as previously stated. 

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