Social Activism

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The Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership (BYCL) social activist pathway is the perfect option for anyone who is passionate about influencing and making positive social change. Social activists are responsible citizens who represent and mobilise their communities and shine a light on important issues that affect individuals, families and whānau, and society. 

Are you passionate about an issue that you feel could be handled better by our local, national or international community? Do you feel compelled to be a voice for anyone who is under-represented, disadvantaged or treated unfairly by society? Or do you can see solutions, even paradigm shifts, which can better serve our society, humanity or the planet? If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes', social activism could be the pathway for you. Social activists are critically-conscious, socially driven change agents who try to create a better future for all.

Through the social activist pathway you will learn how to connect with communities, to learn from them and advocate on their behalf. You will understand the key role education plays and investigate how government and policies impact people differently. You will evaluate the influence that the media has on society and question whether it is responsible for social change or social control.


As a social activist you could operate in diverse settings as a lobbyist, political campaigner, community organiser, human rights advocate or outreach coordinator. At the heart of your role is a passionate drive to advocate for people's human rights toward a greater good.


At UC you will have the opportunity to initiate your own projects and connect with organisations and businesses. You will learn through combining practical opportunities with theoretical knowledge preparing you for a diverse range of roles in the future.

Social activists aim to bring about social, political, economic or environmental change or reform. They are inspired to promote, lead, or obstruct changes in government or business policies. They motivate the actions of individuals and groups by building connections and disseminating information on specific issues to create awareness and influence social change.

  • The BYCL social activist pathway allows you to take courses from across subject areas, equipping you with the knowledge and skills to take on issues that matter to you. This could include courses in political science, cultural studies, sociology, education, communications, human services and more!
  • You will explore projects within your BYCL core courses that could specifically address the opportunities or inequities that you wish to change for the better. It’s a great opportunity to gain real-world experience while you are studying.
  • The BYCL degree is designed for the future of work. You will be equipped with transferable skills and disciplinary knowledge to thrive in rapidly changing employment contexts.
  • You have the flexibility to build the degree you want! Along with a social activist focus, you can develop a programme of study that can make you an exceptional candidate for any workplace with a unique set of skills and expertise.
  • Join a dynamic group of students, intent on making positive change in their communities, locally, nationally and internationally.

The BYCL is a 360-point degree, with at least 225 points at 200-level or above:

  • 150 points of compulsory courses in leadership development
  • 105 points of optional courses from Schedule E: Elective courses
  • up to 105 points of courses from any bachelor’s degree at UC.

The degree does not have any majors, but there are some identified study pathways. To study the BYCL social activism pathway, you can design your study drawing on the courses recommended below and supplementing with courses to meet your interests and certain course requirements. 

Your first year comprises a minimum of 120 points or eight 15-point courses. There are two compulsory courses plus four highly recommended courses for the social activism pathway. 

Talk to a  about your course options. They will help you select courses from across subjects while ensuring you meet any prerequisites and requirements for the BYCL degree.

Year 1 Compulsory courses

YACL101 (15pts) Introduction to Youth Leadership: Leading the Self
CHCH101 (15pts)
 Strengthening Communities through Social Innovation

The following elective courses are highly recommended:

POLS103 (15pts) Introduction to New Zealand Politics and Policy
EDUC103 (15pts) Education, Culture and Society
COMS101 (15pts) Media and Society
SOCI112 (15pts) Global Society

For a fulltime study programme, you will complete a further two 100-level courses (30 points). These can be from subjects such as cultural studies, education, human services, management, māori and indigenous studies, and sociology. When selecting your courses remember to consider prerequisites for desired 200 and 300- level courses. 

Download the full regulations for BYCL.

Contact the Programme Coordinator or Student Advisors for more information on the degree and certificate programmes.

Dr Christoph Teschers

Senior Lecturer
Rehua Level 4
Internal Phone: 94647

Student Advisors

College of Education, Health and Human Development
Internal Phone: 93333
UC Connect: Why anti-racism and black lives matter in Aotearoa

A panel University of Canterbury experts including BYCL lecturer Dr Mahdis Azarmandi discuss why anti-racism and black lives matter in Aotearoa, in a special extended public lecture. 

Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership Overview

Find out about the Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership

What is it like to be a BYCL student?

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