SA409      Half Unit
Social Security Policies

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Kitty Stewart OLD2.36


This course is available on the MSc in Social Policy (European and Comparative Social Policy), MSc in Social Policy (Research) and MSc in Social Policy (Social Policy and Planning). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course analyses income maintenance and social security policies defined broadly to include not only national insurance and social assistance provisions but also fiscal, occupational and private provisions that maintain incomes. Definitions and measurements of need and poverty are reviewed. Economic and administrative aspects of social security and tax credits are considered, as is their impact on social and economic behaviour. A comparative approach is adopted.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

Seminar members will be expected to make regular presentations to the seminar and submit a written paper towards the end of term.

Indicative reading

Basic reading for the course includes: J Millar (Ed), Understanding Social Security, 2nd ed. The Policy Press, 2009; J Dixon, Social Security in Global Perspective, Praeger, 1999; National Equality Panel, An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK, Government Equality Office/CASE, 2010; Child Poverty Action Group, Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook 2013/2014; R Walker, Social Security and Welfare: Concepts and Comparisons, Oxford University Press, 2005.


Exam (75%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 1500 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2009/10 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 6.5
Merit 67.7
Pass 25.8
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2012/13: 18

Average class size 2012/13: 19

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information