Social Sciences - BSc (Hons)

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Our Social Sciences degree gives you the skills to better understand the world you live in. You study key issues such as class, poverty, inequality, health, crime, and urban change and are encouraged to think of innovative ways to tackle them.

Overview

The School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research is one of the best in the country for teaching and research. Our academics are internationally recognised for their expertise and challenge you to develop your own opinions and ideas, encouraging you to become an independent thinker. We offer high levels of support and our staff are friendly and accessible.

Our degree programme

The Social Sciences degree at Kent offers an exciting opportunity to understand how society works and how social change happens from different disciplinary perspectives – sociology, psychology, social policy, history, and criminology.

You acquire the key methodological tools to undertake social science research and analyse issues such as social class, poverty, health, crime, urban change and identity, understanding them through applying interdisciplinary insights.

The programme is flexible and enables you to study what interests you most. You can choose from a wide range of modules without specialising, or focus your studies by following one of our pathways:

  • Psychology and Criminology
  • Sociology and Psychology
  • Sociology and Social Policy
  • Sociology and Criminology

Between Stages 2 and 3, you can choose to spend a year in professional practice as part of your degree. This enables you to develop workplace skills and to build essential contacts and networks.

Year abroad

It is possible to spend a year or a term abroad at one of our partner institutions. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent but certain conditions apply. See the year abroad section on the Course structure tab for more details.

Year in professional practice

Your year in professional practice takes place between your second and final year. You gain work experience in a professional setting and can put the theory you have learnt into practice. It is also gives you the chance to develop networks and contacts in your area of interest. Employers also greatly value, and seek evidence of, relevant work experience when selecting candidates for posts. See the Course structure tab for full details.

Extra activities

The Social Studies Society is run by Kent students for anyone with an interest in criminology, sociology, law, social policy, economics and politics.

There are events available throughout the year for students from the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. These may include:

  • research seminars and webcasts
  • career development workshops
  • informal lectures by guest experts followed by group discussion.
4th
For graduate prospects Social Policy at Kent was ranked 4th in The Times Good University Guide 2021.

Entry requirements

You are more than your grades

At Kent we look at your circumstances as a whole before deciding whether to make you an offer to study here. Find out more about how we offer flexibility and support before and during your degree.

Entry requirements

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Some typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. Please also see our general entry requirements.

If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes. Please note that international fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

Please note that meeting the typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.

  • A level

    BBC

  • GCSE

    Mathematics grade C

  • Access to HE Diploma

    The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

    If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

    Distinction, Merit, Merit

  • International Baccalaureate

    34 points overall or 14 at HL

  • International Foundation Programme

    Pass all components of the University of Kent International Foundation Programme with a 60% overall average.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you do not meet our English language requirements, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.

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Course structure

Duration: 3 years full-time (4 with a year abroad/placement year), 6 years part-time (7 with a year abroad/placement year)

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Compulsory modules currently include

This module introduces students to the politics of social policy, building specifically on their learning in SO326 Understanding Contemporary Britain. Students will explore the role of politicians, pressure groups, the media and public opinion in shaping responses to social problems, and the party-political and ideological approaches to policy-making.

Students will explore the tensions between welfare and the economy and the main tensions between individualism and collectivism in the political environment of the contemporary welfare state. Students will be introduced to the role of politics in social policy making to understand the different value positions political parties hold. Students will examine these issues through five policy sectors of employment, social security, health, housing, and education.

Find out more about SA312

This module introduces debates about the nature of social research methods principally in sociology, criminology, social history and psychology, with reference to social policy, politics and other social sciences. It will introduce students to social research from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students will develop key study and research skills for research methods module in Stage 2 and the dissertation in Stage 3.

Find out more about SA313

This introductory course in criminology and criminal justice will introduce students to the ways in which images and notions of crime are constructed and represented, including the links between crime and the key social divisions of age, gender and ethnicity. They will be introduced to the workings of the criminal justice system and its key agencies. Students would cover the measurement of crime, media representations of crime, the aims and justifications of punishment and the structure and operation of the criminal justice.

Find out more about SO329

This module introduces students to the history of Britain in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, through an exploration of changes and continuities across three themes: the political world; the economy; and social life. The political world theme engages with the creation of a mass democracy in 1918, the varying fortunes of the political parties, and Britain's changing place in the world. The economy theme explores the impact of depressions and recoveries, industrial relations, affluence and globalization. The social life theme draws out the human scale of such experiences, looking at changing social conditions, the experience of war, and shifting social attitudes to gender, race, sexuality and religion. Students will consider the range of primary sources that historians use to analyse past events and processes, building skills in documentary analysis.

Find out more about SO343

This module follows on from Foundations in Social and Criminological Research 1 in developing students' skills in research and critical thinking. The emphasis in this module is on quantitative methods: evaluating the use of quantitative research in 'real life’ contexts, and developing skills in analysing quantitative data. Students will explore descriptive statistics, the evaluation of research designs and learn how to use SPSS to handle quantitative data.

Find out more about SO344

The module will discuss classical and contemporary sociological perspectives (including Marxism, Weberianism, feminism and Bourdieusian), examining how they address key sociological debates, such as modernity, social order, conflict, agency and power. The module will also discuss key sociological concepts (such as class, gender and 'race'), explaining how they are used to understand social practices and structures in everyday life.

Find out more about SO345

The module will discuss a range of substantive topics (e.g., families, deviance, economy and cities), examining how they address key sociological issues, such as agency, power and culture. The module will also discuss the implications of social practices and institutions for understanding everyday life and social change, explaining how class, gender, ethnicity and other social inequalities are significant concepts in shaping people's lived experiences. Classical and contemporary macro- and micro-theoretical perspectives (such as Marxism, feminism and postmodernism) will be employed to understand and explain social practices and institutions.

Find out more about SO346

The lectures will give a brief history and overview of the discipline, followed by an examination of different approaches to explaining human behaviour. Different areas of psychology (such as social and cognitive) will be explained and examples of topics in these areas examined as illustrations. The focus will be on the nature of psychology as a discipline, the types of methods and approaches used in psychology, and how it compares and contrasts with other disciplines in the social sciences.

Perspectives examined in the course will include:

• biopsychology ( the nervous system, including structure, functions and effects of damage)

• evolutionary principles and their relevance to behaviour

• behaviourism (principles of learning through conditioning)

• cognitive psychology (e.g. memory, decision-making)

• social psychology (e.g. group membership)

• clinical issues (anxiety disorders)

Find out more about SP312

You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.

Stage 2

Compulsory modules currently include

Philosophy of science; approaches to research; levels of measurement; reliability and validity; research design; descriptive statistics; analytical tests (chi-square, t-tests and non-parametric alternatives, ANOVA and non-parametric alternatives, correlation, regression) ; using SPSS; reporting research; critical evaluation of research; and surveys.

Find out more about SP646

This module introduces students to the use of qualitative methods for research in the social sciences in the interpretive tradition. It builds on the Stage 1 module, Foundations of Social and Criminological Research SAPO3130 and prepares students for sociological and socio-historical dissertations at Stage 3 SOCI5510. The module looks in detail at how sociologists and social historians do research. It contextualises the evolution of their research methods in relation to different schools of thoughts and critical perspectives, e.g. feminism. It exposes students to different tools of research including semi-structured and oral history interviews, focus groups, archival work and documentary analysis, ethnography, and visual, sensory, mobile and material methods.

Find out more about SO647

Optional modules may include

This module will cover key criminal justice agencies, contestability, and privatisation; the contested purposes of prisons; offending behaviour programmes in prison and probation; 'alternative' models of offender rehabilitation such as democratic and hierarchical therapeutic penal regimes and the ‘good lives’ model; practice skills in working with offenders; parole, risk, and resettlement; and desistance from crime.

Find out more about SO619

This module, Young People and Violence, approaches the study of interpersonal violent crime as it relates to young people. It will explore violence experienced in everyday life paying particular interest to the social context in which it can occur; for example urban spaces, schools, familial setting and 'gang, gun and knife culture'. The concern with youth, crime and violence is critically appraised in the context of shifting political focus on disaffected young people. It will seek to understand violence within the context of youth in late modernity. One of the primary objectives of this module will be to engage students in analytical debates on crime and violence as experienced by young people as perpetrators and victims. It will examine and apply criminological theory to youth violence exploring the connection between crime and violence through the intersection of race, gender, ethnicity and class. In particular, the module will investigate the link between structure and agency. In this module, students will have the opportunity to review the impact of changing political and criminal justice responses to the youth crime problem. The module will have a national, as well as international focus.

Find out more about SO751

This module encourages students to take an international view of social policy, beyond the national state, and to develop understanding of the global links and comparisons that can be used to consider welfare in this way. It is recommended that students take this in their third year having studied one or both of the second year social policy modules (SO545 or SO749).

Introductory lectures and seminars will introduce the challenges and risks facing contemporary welfare regimes, including neoliberalism, globalisation and financial uncertainty, and the notion of mixed economies of welfare. Another block of learning will provide accounts of comparative approaches to welfare and explore histories and contemporary dynamics of welfare in the US and in mainland Europe. Finally a series of welfare topics on migration, care, work and citizenship will be introduced in order to explore issues and policy responses within a global framework.

Find out more about SO757

This module will introduce students to the utility of criminal psychology within the criminal justice context. It will introduce students to various topics such as the history of criminal psychology, how the field has been shaped, theories, the emergence, persistence and desistence of offending. The module will help students develop an understanding of criminal psychology and its importance in criminal justice contexts from different perspectives.

Find out more about SO548

This module is concerned with contemporary issues, developments, practices and research in criminal justice.

In line with current policy developments it will address the connections between criminal justice policies and other policy developments and critically examine 'new' policy initiatives including such measures as community crime prevention; developments to involve and protect the victims of crime; moves towards broader conceptualisations of justice, including reconceptualisations of crime as social harm. The module examines contemporary policy developments in sentencing, hate crime, racism in criminal justice practices, amongst other issues.

Find out more about SO549

This module aims to provide a broad introduction to social ethics. It will give students moral frameworks with which to address contemporary issues affecting social and professional practices and relationships. The module explores how everyday encounters and practices have ethical dimensions, which are often neglected in sociological accounts.

A range of topics will be examined, including euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, prostitution, cannibalism, lying, charity and fair wage. It will draw upon several ethical perspectives, such as utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, feminist ethics and theories of justice, to understand these topics.

Find out more about SO556

This module concerns the application of psychological theory and research to issues in criminal justice. We will consider psychological research and application in areas such as offender profiling and investigative psychology, detecting deception, confessions and false confessions, jury decision making, and eyewitness testimony. Recent psychological findings will be emphasised. Students will be encouraged to take a critical approach to assessing the validity of theories and applications. Students should gain an understanding of the potential and limitations of psychology's contributions to criminal justice.

Find out more about SP627

You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.

Year in industry

The year in professional practice is taken between Stage 2 and 3 and is an opportunity to apply your social science learning in practice. You learn about the pragmatic contexts in which voluntary and public sector organisations operate and also develop your knowledge about employment opportunities in these areas. Not only does placement year help you to gain work experience and contacts, it also encourages you to look at your studies in a new light. Graduates from our degrees with a year in professional practice leave the School with the much sought after combination of the skills and competency gained through a university education, and the ability to demonstrate these in a practical work setting.

The option of a placement year is open to those students who have attained a good academic record at Stages 1 and 2, and have successfully completed an interview process. Read one student's experience of the placement year.

Alternatively, you can use our pathway options to specialise in two subject areas in Stages 2 and 3, and therefore graduate with a BSc (Hons) Social Sciences (Sociology and Psychology) or (Sociology and Criminology) or (Psychology and Criminology) or (Sociology and Social Policy).

Year abroad

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally.  You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

You can apply to add a year abroad to your degree programme from your arrival at Kent until the autumn term of your second year.  The year abroad takes place between Stages 2 and 3 at one of our partner universities.  Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme.  For a full list, please see Go Abroad.

You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the year abroad.  The year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification.

Stage 3

Optional modules may include

This module concerns the application of psychological theory and research to issues in criminal justice. We will consider psychological research and application in areas such as offender profiling and investigative psychology, detecting deception, confessions and false confessions, jury decision making, and eyewitness testimony. Recent psychological findings will be emphasised. Students will be encouraged to take a critical approach to assessing the validity of theories and applications. Students should gain an understanding of the potential and limitations of psychology's contributions to criminal justice.

Find out more about SP627

This module aims to provide a broad introduction to social ethics. It will give students moral frameworks with which to address contemporary issues affecting social and professional practices and relationships. The module explores how everyday encounters and practices have ethical dimensions, which are often neglected in sociological accounts.

A range of topics will be examined, including euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, prostitution, cannibalism, lying, charity and fair wage. It will draw upon several ethical perspectives, such as utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, feminist ethics and theories of justice, to understand these topics.

Find out more about SO556

This module is concerned with contemporary issues, developments, practices and research in criminal justice.

In line with current policy developments it will address the connections between criminal justice policies and other policy developments and critically examine 'new' policy initiatives including such measures as community crime prevention; developments to involve and protect the victims of crime; moves towards broader conceptualisations of justice, including reconceptualisations of crime as social harm. The module examines contemporary policy developments in sentencing, hate crime, racism in criminal justice practices, amongst other issues.

Find out more about SO549

The aim of the Dissertation is to enable students to undertake independent research.

In the course of their projects, students will deepen their critical understanding of research design and the application of specific techniques, and will further develop theoretical and practical understandings of the approaches of the relevant discipline.

Find out more about SO551

This module will introduce students to the utility of criminal psychology within the criminal justice context. It will introduce students to various topics such as the history of criminal psychology, how the field has been shaped, theories, the emergence, persistence and desistence of offending. The module will help students develop an understanding of criminal psychology and its importance in criminal justice contexts from different perspectives.

Find out more about SO548

This module encourages students to take an international view of social policy, beyond the national state, and to develop understanding of the global links and comparisons that can be used to consider welfare in this way. It is recommended that students take this in their third year having studied one or both of the second year social policy modules (SO545 or SO749).

Introductory lectures and seminars will introduce the challenges and risks facing contemporary welfare regimes, including neoliberalism, globalisation and financial uncertainty, and the notion of mixed economies of welfare. Another block of learning will provide accounts of comparative approaches to welfare and explore histories and contemporary dynamics of welfare in the US and in mainland Europe. Finally a series of welfare topics on migration, care, work and citizenship will be introduced in order to explore issues and policy responses within a global framework.

Find out more about SO757

This module, Young People and Violence, approaches the study of interpersonal violent crime as it relates to young people. It will explore violence experienced in everyday life paying particular interest to the social context in which it can occur; for example urban spaces, schools, familial setting and 'gang, gun and knife culture'. The concern with youth, crime and violence is critically appraised in the context of shifting political focus on disaffected young people. It will seek to understand violence within the context of youth in late modernity. One of the primary objectives of this module will be to engage students in analytical debates on crime and violence as experienced by young people as perpetrators and victims. It will examine and apply criminological theory to youth violence exploring the connection between crime and violence through the intersection of race, gender, ethnicity and class. In particular, the module will investigate the link between structure and agency. In this module, students will have the opportunity to review the impact of changing political and criminal justice responses to the youth crime problem. The module will have a national, as well as international focus.

Find out more about SO751

This module traces the way in which criminal justice and criminal justice policy have become increasingly politicised in recent years. It utilises key examples, such as terrorism, dangerous offenders, and capital punishment to highlight the interaction between popular opinion, research, policy formation and the criminalisation of particular groups within society. The module will analyse how and why crime has become such an important issue on the political agenda, as well as examining the important role that pressure groups (such as NACRO and the Howard League for Penal Reform) have played in mediating political rhetoric and policy.

Topics covered within the module include the criminalization of social policy; terrorism; 'dangerous' offenders; penal populism; and the politics of risk.

Find out more about SO687

This module will cover key criminal justice agencies, contestability, and privatisation; the contested purposes of prisons; offending behaviour programmes in prison and probation; 'alternative' models of offender rehabilitation such as democratic and hierarchical therapeutic penal regimes and the ‘good lives’ model; practice skills in working with offenders; parole, risk, and resettlement; and desistance from crime.

Find out more about SO619

You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time £9250
  • EU full-time £12600
  • International full-time £16800
  • Home part-time £4625
  • EU part-time £6300
  • International part-time £8400

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Fees for Year in Industry

Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.

Fees for Year Abroad

Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of A*AA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.

Teaching and assessment

We use a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, case study analysis, group projects and presentations, and individual and group tutorials. Many module convenors also offer additional ‘clinic’ hours to help with the preparation of coursework and for exams.

If you choose to take the placement year, you  have the opportunity to spend 900 hours in a relevant professional setting, approved in advance to be suitable for your respective degree. Although you are responsible for obtaining your own placement, guidance is offered in the form of tutorial support and access to networks of providers developed and maintained by the School. You are visited once (where possible) during your placement, to ensure that the placement activities are suitable and achieving the programme learning outcomes. Assessment is on a pass or fail basis and the marks gained do not contribute to the final degree classification.

Assessment is by a mixture of coursework and examinations; to view details for individual modules click the 'read more' link within each module listed in the course structure.

Contact hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • provide knowledge and understanding of key areas of social sciences
  • develop your critical, analytical and interpretative skills so you can engage with debates in the field
  • provide the opportunity to develop research techniques
  • enable you to specialise in areas of social science that interest you
  • provide opportunities for students from different educational backgrounds
  • equip you to succeed in the employment market.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the key concepts and theories used to analyse society
  • the key issues and debates within the social sciences
  • the methodology of the social sciences and how to critically evaluate research
  • how to conduct research relating to a problem in social sciences
  • the main sources of social science data and how it is collected and analysed
  • understanding of interdisciplinary approaches to social science issues.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual abilities in:

  • problem-solving skills and strategic thinking
  • research skills including the ability to analyse problems and issues
  • collecting and interpreting data
  • sensitivity to the needs and values of others
  • critical and evaluative skills
  • assessing the implications of policy outcomes
  • spotting flaws in arguments within written documents and the spoken word
  • developing a logical argument
  • using the internet to research issues in the social sciences.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in how to:

  • identify and use concepts and theories to analyse issues within the social sciences
  • find and use statistical data relevant to the social sciences
  • undertake an investigation involving primary research
  • distinguish between positive, normative, moral and political issues and questions.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in how to:

  • communicate effectively and develop a strong line of argument in written and verbal form
  • plan ahead and manage time in order to meet deadlines
  • work as a member of a team
  • listen to others and understand their point of view
  • analyse questions and write reports and essays setting out options and alternatives
  • reference material according to accepted conventions
  • use internet and library resources to study independently
  • make clear and effective presentations to peers and staff
  • have a critical and reflective approach to study and work
  • compare and contrast the strength and weaknesses in the arguments and opinions of others.

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

Independent rankings

Sociology at Kent was ranked 1st for research quality in The Complete University Guide 2021 and The Times Good University Guide 2021.

For graduate prospects Social Policy at Kent was ranked 4th in The Times Good University Guide 2021.

Careers

Graduate destinations

Social Sciences graduates go on to work in careers including:

  • teaching
  • research
  • local government
  • the Civil Service
  • management in the public, private or voluntary sectors
  • marketing
  • care and counselling
  • psychology
  • the police.

Some of our graduates choose to go on to further study at Master’s or PhD level.

Help finding a job

The School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research has its own employability team who work with businesses to maximise opportunities for our students. We also hold an Employability Month every February and run networking events throughout the year to help you develop your skills and contacts.

The School has excellent links with local outside agencies, such as the probation and youth justice services, the police and social services.

The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Career-enhancing skills

As well as your subject-specific knowledge, you also develop the key transferable skills graduate employers look for. These include:

  • excellent communication skills
  • organisational and research skills
  • the ability to analyse problems
  • teamworking.

Taking the year in professional practice can also considerably enhance your career prospects, as employers actively seek graduates with relevant work experience.

You can also gain additional skills by signing up for our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a new language or volunteering.

Apply for this course

If you are from the UK or Ireland, you must apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not from the UK or Ireland, you can choose to apply through UCAS or directly on our website.

Find out more about how to apply

All applicants

Apply through UCAS

International applicants

Apply now to Kent

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

Enquire online for full-time study

Enquire online for part-time study

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk

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