Social Economics and Policy

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Kitty Stewart OLD 2.36


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Social Policy. This course is available on the 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

This course has two parts. The first part uses economic principles to help students to understand the characteristics of different social policy areas and how the markets and the government may fail. The second part tries to analyse the causes of and possible solutions to poverty and inequality.

The key subjects will include: the nature of economic problems; basic economic theories; economics of healthcare, social care, housing, education and environment; market and government failures; private insurance and social insurance; quasi-markets; technology and productivity change; the distribution of income; concepts of poverty and inequality; the determination of wages; the role of trade unions; minimum wage legislation; low pay and poverty; unemployment and government economic management; education and human capital theory; policies of income redistribution.


10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

Essays and presentations will be required.

Indicative reading

J Le Grand, C Propper & R Robinson, The Economics of Social Problems, Fourth Edition, Palgrave, 2008; A B Atkinson, The Economics of Inequality, OUP, 1983; N Barr, Economics of the Welfare State, OUP 2004; J Le Grand & W Bartlett, Quasi-markets and Social Policy, Macmillan, 1993; H Glennerster, Understanding the Finance of Welfare; The Policy Press, 2009; J Hills, Inequality and the State, OUP, 2004.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

Classification % of students
First 5.6
2:1 62.5
2:2 30.6
Third 1.4
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2012/13: 25

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: 86.6%



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)