The Foundations of Social Policy

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Isabel Shutes OLD 2.46


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Social Policy, BSc in Social Policy and Criminology, BSc in Social Policy and Economics, BSc in Social Policy and Sociology and BSc in Social Policy with Government. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course examines the nature of social provision in different policy fields and for different groups of people. This work is contextualised by reference to different kinds of welfare systems in developed countries, changes in role of the state and other providers of welfare, and changes in ideas and key concepts.

The course considers how social problems are defined and policies formulated with reference to the fields of poverty, health, education, housing and income maintenance; discusses key concepts (for example, citizenship) and the position of different social classes, generations, ethnicities, and men and women; explores the changing boundaries between the roles of the state, the market, the family and the voluntary sector in the mixed economy of welfare; and considers the economic, social and political factors that are important to an understanding of policy formation and policy change.


10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 3 hours of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to submit two pieces of written work per term, and to read for and prepare contributions to class discussion each week.

Indicative reading

P Alcock, M May & Rowlingson, K (Eds), The Student's Companion To Social Policy, 4th edn, 2012; J Baldock, N Manning & S Vickerstaff (Eds), Social Policy, 4th edn, 2011; A Deacon, Perspectives on Welfare, 2002; H Dean, Social Policy, Short Introductions, 2nd edition, 2012; H Glennerster, British Social Policy Since 1945, 2007; C Pierson, Beyond the Welfare State, 1998; C Pierson and F G Castles (eds), The Welfare State Reader, 2000, P Thane, The Foundations of the Welfare State, 1982; These are introductory texts; a full reading list will be provided in the first lecture of MT.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

Classification % of students
First 4.4
2:1 42.1
2:2 44
Third 9.4
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2012/13: 45

Average class size 2012/13: 13

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 75.4%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)