The SPA was founded in 1972 and we have a large membership in the UK and internationally.


  • To promote the discipline of Social Policy
  • To represent its members’ interests
  • To promote communication and learning between its members and with the wider policy and public


  • To promote the discipline by engaging in consultation with organisations responsible for post-compulsory education and social science research in the UK
  • To promote research, teaching and practice in Social Policy and work to enhance the public profile of the subject through engagement within and beyond the discipline
  • To provide a forum for the exchange and dissemination of ideas
  • To offer an unparalleled opportunity to keep in touch with national and international developments in a fast-changing policy environment
  • To actively promote stronger international links
  • To enhance the long-term development of the discipline by liaising closely with the Economic and Social Research Council and other bodies involved in postgraduate training; and provide a range of services to support and encourage advanced studies in Social Policy

Key activities include:

  • An academic conference each summer, regularly attracting up to 250 delegates from the UK and overseas
  • Support for the two leading international academic social policy journals, Journal of Social Policy and Social Policy and Society
  • An active network and regular seminars and conferences for social policy post-graduate students
  • An online newsletter, Policy World, published three times a year
  • Engagement with UK higher education funding bodies; other learned societies in the humanities and social sciences; policy makers and policy users

Our membership

Most of our members are teachers and researchers in social policy and applied social science within UK higher education, although we also have a significant and growing number of members from other European, Asian and Australasian countries. As an outward-looking association we seek to engage in global aspects of social policy and with scholars residing outside of as well as within the UK.