Introduction to the Social Sciences

Introduction to the Social Sciences

Core Electronic Texts:

The following books are all available electronically. To use them log-in using your library account.

Finding material:


Books are a useful place to begin your research. They will give you an overview of a topic and are usually written by experts - so you can trust their opinions. However, books can become out of date! Be sure to use the latest editions and always supplement with other more up to date materials, e.g. journal articles.

  • Library Catalogue - use the keyword option in the Library Catalogue to find useful books and other materials.
  • Dawsonera - the University's main supplier of e-books. Use the search option to find useful electronic books. Click here for a Dawsonera Help Sheet.
  • NetLibrary - the University's secondary supplier of e-books. Use the Advanced Search tab to identify relevant books.
  • Credo Reference - a collection of electronic reference books, e.g. dictionaries, encyclopaedias. Use this to find brief explanations of topics, e.g. "Beveridge Plan."
Journal articles

Peer-reviewed journals are written by academic researchers who are experts on the subject and are one of the best sources to use for assignments. They are published more rapidly and frequently than books and so will contain up to date information. The majority of peer-reviewed journals are not freely available on the web and therefore you are unlikely to find them by using a search engine! Instead use one of the databases below:

Ebscohost Research Databases - Search several Ebscohost databases simultaneously to find useful journal articles and other quality materials, e.g. conference papers, theses, book chapters. Click here for Ebscohost Research Databases Help Sheet. Particularly useful Ebscohost databases for this module are:

If there's a 'health' element to you topic you might also try:

If there's an education element to your topic you might also try:

Sage Premier - a database containing electronic full-text, peer-reviewed journal articles all by the publisher Sage. The journals cover all aspects of social work and social welfare.

Newspaper articles

Newspapers are written by journalists (who are not academic researchers and are therefore not experts on the topic!). Newspaper articles may be brief and may be biased. However they are very up to date and are a good way of keeping up with the latest developments in a topic.
Tip 1: Always supplement newspaper articles with more scholarly materials, e.g. books, peer-reviewed journal articles.
Tip 2: Use articles from broadsheet newspapers rather than tabloids as these are more likely to give you a balanced viewpoint.

Most of the UK national newspapers have their own websites where you can read the day's news and will sometimes have an archive on past issues. But the websites tend to give you abbreviated versions of the articles in the printed newspaper and the archive may not always be available for free!

To search all the national UK newspapers (plus many of the local UK newspapers) all at the same time for the last 10 years use:


Statistics add depth to your research and are good for backing up your arguments. N.B. all statistics are as only as good as the organisation responsible for collecting and analysing them - don't use statistics from indiscriminate websites!

The UK Government is a major collector of statistics and will generally provide reliable data. UK Government statistics can be found from the following sources:

You can find further help with statistics by going to the Statistics page of this guide.

Government websites

UK Government websites contain a lot of useful information including policy documents, reports (which may have been written by academic researchers - always check the author's credentials) and legislation. Information from UK Government websites is likely to have been checked for accuracy/quality and is therefore usually a 'safe' source to use. Be aware that it may contain some bias to favour the current Government's policies! Aim to use some independent academic research as well to ensure you're aware of all the facts.

Some of the most useful UK Government websites for social work may be found by going to the Government websites page of this guide.

Other useful websites

There's a lot of useful freely available information on the web - and far more that's inaccurate, biased, unsuitable and will lose you marks!.

UK Government websites, websites of universities ( and websites of charities are likely to contain more reliable information but do be sure to check the date of the information.

Some useful websites for this module are:

A freely available Internet service which provides a trusted source of selected, high quality Internet information for students, academics, researchers and practitioners in the social sciences, business and law.

Age Concern is the UK's largest charity working with and for older people.

Child Poverty Action Group is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.

Communities and local government access to up to date policy direct from the deputy Prime Minister’s Office.

The following information is taken from the introduction to the website: "The Joseph Rowntree Foundation shares the hopes of its founder that 'to seek out the underlying causes of weakness or evil' should contribute to 'the right measures of human advancement' which over a period of time could 'change the face of England'. To this end, the Foundation supports programme of research and development in the fields of housing, social care and social policy. The Foundation's Trustees and Directors are also responsible for the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust".

Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. It “works to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress”.

Provides an introduction to social policy from both a UK and international perspective. It also includes resources on specific topics such as older people, mental health, learning disability, children, education, health, physical disability and criminal justice.

Shelter is an organisation campaigning for better housing for all.

SWAP aims to enhance the student learning experience by promoting high quality learning, teaching and assessment and by supporting social work and social policy educators and students.

The Refugee Council is the largest organisation in the UK working with refugees and asylum seekers.

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