The Social Change Degree: A new undergrad course for changemakers and disruptors

In September 2019, Leeds Beckett University and Doing Social will launch a new bachelor’s degree in social change, created with practitioners, students, communities and civil society, offering real-world experiences and practice within community and innovation spaces in different sectors.

BA (Hons) Innovation and Skills for Social Change (ISSC), has been designed for learners who wish to gain deep insights and capabilities to tackle the root causes of social issues sustainably in different sectors, and to make a difference to people’s lives locally, or around the world.  

This is an interdisciplinary course which draws on historical and contemporary perspectives from political, sociological, economic, management and philosophical theories and models. This approach is important so that students can develop a deeper awareness, understanding and appreciation of the nature, language, discourse, and challenges relating to social need, innovation and social change.

Where: Carnegie School of Education, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK.

Places available: 25 to 30 places

Students: Anyone who is passionate about social justice, sustainability and humanity, and making the world a better place.

Teaching and assessment: Teaching takes place over 2 or 3 days a week. Modules will be delivered through a variety of masterclasses, seminar groups, tutorials, debates, experiments, virtual learning environments and external experiences. There are no exams on this course. Assessments have been innovatively designed to reflect real work activities and to develop important abilities and attributes to contribute in significant ways to social change through future careers.

The aims of the course: The main aim of this course is to develop skills and abilities which can help to address social needs, gaps, and failures in society. Through this course, students will achieve a skill-set that will enable them to undertake or create roles that can disrupt, strengthen and support different sectors to tackle or respond innovatively and effectively to the “wicked problems” of our time. Students will be able to contribute to transforming society using processes that are collaborative, inclusive and driven by achieving social, rather than economic aims.

Skills that will be developed: Innovation, creativity/imagination, collaboration, design, co-creation, sustainable and frugal practices, project management, capacity building, systems and strategic thinking, research, analysis, marketing, digital, social inclusion, public speaking, debating, training, outcome/impact measurement, enterprise and leadership. These are global skills which will be useful in many different careers.

What makes this course different?

  1. It has been co-designed with a wide range of external people and organisations, to ensure it reflects real world practice and contexts, as well as evolving societal needs.
  2. For these reasons, it will also be largely delivered with practitioners and speakers with lived experience of social issues.
  3. This is a “social change programme”; the course seeks to contribute purposefully to society and to benefit communities and organisations. Its social purpose is to “collaborate with communities to progress social change endeavours, and to share knowledge and learning which helps to strengthen capacity and skills in communities and organisations and improves the life chances and wellbeing of communities”.
  4. Students will undertake “live projects” every year of the course (over 530 hours staggered over three years) during which they will collaborate with communities and organisations on projects that benefit all parties. Through this, students will gain far-reaching experiences of innovation, co-creation, capacity building, impact measurement and enterprise and build up their portfolio of experience over the three years. 
  5. This course embeds values which promote inclusion, collaboration, equity, wellbeing, compassion, and social justice.


An endorsement 

“Community Organisers Ltd is excited by the potential that this new degree course brings to the sector as well as to our network of community organisers. This course is a fabulous opportunity for those engaged and leading change at the local level to increase their knowledge and understanding of innovation as well as creating a new generation of community activists and social innovators.”

Nick Gardham, Chief Executive Officer, Community Organisers Ltd


Course content

Year One:

  • Social Need and Social Change
  • Social Innovation Theory and Practice
  • Grassroots Action and Innovation
  • Personal, Professional and Academic Development (PPAD)
  • Mapping Journeys to Social Change (live project)

Year Two:

  • Co-design for Social Change
  • Community Capacity Building
  • Organisational Capacity Building
  • Research for Social Change
  • Frugal Innovation and Learning Events (live project)

Year Three:

  • Business Models for Social Change
  • Social Change Dynamics and Systems
  • Major Independent Project (live project)


There are a many exciting career possibilities and pathways in different sectors for graduates specialising in systemic, innovative, and inclusive approaches. For example, you could apply these skills within the social sector, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), think tanks, international development, or within the public sector, teaching, research, or in government roles, or within corporate organisations when working on social, innovation, or consultancy projects. Or students might wish to develop their own innovations and collaborations, or start up a social or community business/organisation/movement.

How to apply – Through the UCAS website in September 2018. If you would like to be notified when the application process opens, send an email to and we will be in touch nearer the time.

Entry requirements

Formal requirements: Ideally, we require 104 points, 64 points from two ‘A’ Levels, or equivalent. We also ask for a GCSE English Language and Maths at Grade C or above (Grade 4 for those sitting their GCSE from 2017 onwards) or equivalent. Key Skills Level 2, Functional Skills Level 2 and the Certificate in Adult Literacy/Numeracy are accepted in place of GCSEs.

If you do not meet the formal requirements: We will still consider your application if you are able to demonstrate an interest in this subject, related work experiences and a commitment to completing the degree. We may also recommend an initial access course if we think this might be beneficial. (Access course fees are usually reimbursed if students move onto a degree).

We are currently accepting up to 30 students per cohort, on a first-come basis. 

Contributors to the course

This course was co-designed with 120 people from around the country from February to July 2017. We would like to thank everyone who contributed through discussions, the focus groups, the online surveys and the advisory group. Below, we have listed the names of contributors who have agreed for their details to be displayed. 

  • Aakifa Bahadur, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Aamenah Hussain, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Abdou Sidibe, The Children’s Society
  • Adam Udeogba, London South Bank University
  • Adele Rae, Burley Top Community Association (Joined ISSC advisory group)
  • Adrian Ashton, Adrian Ashton Consultancy
  • Akanksha Subramanian, Student at University of Bristol
  • Alaine Burns Laycock, Orangegnaro
  • Alastair Falk, Independent consultant
  • Ammaarah Laher, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Amy Croome, Bridges Fund Management
  • Andreana Drencheva, University of Sheffield
  • Andrew Bacon, Enactus UK (Joined ISSC advisory group)
  • Andrew Houghton 
  • Angela Rouse
  • Anna Merryfield, Social Spider CIC
  • Anna Teresa Rickman, Lightful
  • Aqsa Naser, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Bob Thust, Practical Governance
  • Carl Hawkes, South Yorkshire Housing Association
  • Charlotte Newman, Rainmaker Foundation
  • Chris Hollins, Voluntary Action Leeds (Joined ISSC advisory group)
  • Chris Llewellyn, CriSeren Foundation
  • Claude Hendrickson, Leeds West Indian Centre Charitable Trust
  • Dan Gregory, Common Capital / SEUK
  • David Cooper, Batley Girls’ High School
  • David Floyd, Doing Social/Social Spider (Joined ISSC advisory group)
  • David Lumb, Leeds Sustainable Development Group CIC
  • Dharmesh Mistry, Project Chakra
  • Dipak Patel
  • Doug Martin, BARCA Leeds
  • Ed Carlisle, Together for Peace
  • Emily Gilmour
  • Eylan Ezekiel, Digital Maven
  • Fatima Karolia, Community member
  • Fatima Patel, Community member
  • Fatima Vachiat, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Ferhana Lunat, Community member
  • Fiona Weir, Various including NAPP and Kirklees Council
  • Gary Blake, Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL)
  • Graeme Tiffany, Independent Education Consultant
  • Haqqeem Abdul Razak, Student at University of East Anglia
  • Hawa Limbada, Community member
  • Helen Jones, Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange
  • Hollie Stanton, Enactus UK
  • Iffat Ahmed, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Indy Sira, Enactus UK
  • Iram Hussain, Community member
  • Jacqui Howard, The RSA
  • Jacqui Lovell, Red Handed
  • Jane Li, Home-Start Leeds
  • Jen Dyer, University of Leeds and IMAS
  • Jennifer Daly, Student at DeMontfort University
  • Jonathan Ward, PhD University of Birmingham/Blue Box Belper
  • Josiane Smith, MakeSense (and others)
  • Karl Witty, Leeds Beckett University
  • Kate Welch, Social Enterprise Acumen CIC
  • Katie Hill, Leeds Beckett University
  • Khadija Qais, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Kurt Lindley, Be More – Learning and Development
  • Malcolm Hall 
  • Mariyam Seedat, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Mary Blacka, Independent
  • Matt Roche (Joined ISSC advisory group)
  • Mezufah Patel, Community member
  • Michelle Parry-Slater, Kairos Modern Learning
  • Mona Itani, Riyada for Social Innovation
  • Nagma Rehman, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Nick Gardham, The Company of Community Organisers (Joined ISSC advisory group)
  • Pam Hardisty, UnLtd Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs (Joined ISSC advisory group)
  • Paula Spencer, William Merritt Centre
  • Rabya Afzal, Richmond Fellowship
  • Robert Ashton 
  • Ruth Cooke, Perennial GRBS (York Gate Garden, Leeds)
  • Saffiyah Lorgat, Student, Batley Girls’ High School (Joined ISSC advisory group)
  • Safoora Ali, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Sally Blyth, Womens Health Matters
  • Salma Patel, Community member
  • Sana Kauser, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Sarah Allan, Involve
  • Shahnaz Sheikh, Community member
  • Sonja Woodcock, Voluntary Action Leeds
  • Sue Osbourne, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Yorkshire Humber & North East
  • Tayba Nawaz, Student, Batley Girls’ High School
  • Tayyeba Basser, Community member
  • Victoria Betton, mHabitat – Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Zagham Karim, Student at University of Leicester
  • Zahila Waheed, Student, Batley Girls’ High School (Joined ISSC advisory group)
  • Zara Holden, Student at Nottingham Trent University
  • Zenab Naseem, The Challenge