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Humanities & Social Sciences Courses in New Zealand

The humanities and social sciences field is one of the biggest in New Zealand, offering students a broad range of programmes as well as further study and career options. Courses are available all over the country, allowing students to explore disciplines ranging from anthropology to history, politics, languages and sociology.

For more information about studying humanities and social sciences in New Zealand, visit the following websites:

  • Aotearoa New Zealand Federation of Social Studies Associations (ANZFSSA)
  • New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters
  • The Royal Society of New Zealand
Students interested in the humanities and social sciences field may also consider courses in communications, education and training, law, and social and community services.

What you can study

Humanities and social sciences can be studied at all qualification levels, from basic certificates through to postgraduate research. Because programmes generally do not lead to regulated professions, units and majors are quite similar at all levels of study. You can expect to study just about any field within a humanities programme (the most common being certificates, diplomas and degrees in arts), from ancient history, anthropology, criminology, linguistics and media studies to philosophy, politics, sociology, women’s studies and writing. Language study is also quite popular, allowing students to study a language (usually as a major within a general arts programme) or a specialist area such as Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

Double degrees (also known as ‘conjoint’ degrees) are very popular. These programmes allow students to combine a humanities and social sciences programme with another discipline. Students choose double degrees for many reasons: because they want a broad education, combining contrasting disciplines such as arts and science; because they have two distinct interests and want to study both, such as arts and business; or because they want to combine the humanities with a professional field, such as law.

At postgraduate level, students can elect to study the fields above through postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas and masters degrees. Those interested in research can choose a programme such as the doctor of literature, doctor of letters or a doctor of philosophy (PhD).

Where to study

As humanities and social sciences is such a broad field of study, programmes are widely available across New Zealand. They can be studied at universities, polytechnics, institutes of technology and private colleges. Specialisations and programme availability varies between institutions.

You may select a particular institution due to its expertise in the particular area of study you are considering (politics, for example). Likewise, if you are considering a research degree it is best to look for a university known for its work in your field.

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