SA409      Half Unit
Social Security Policies

This information is for the 2016/17 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), MSc in Social Policy (Social Policy and Planning), MSc in Social Policy and Development and MSc in Social Policy and Development: Non-Governmental Organisations. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course analyses the purposes, design and impact of social security policies, meaning policies that protect and support household income at times when income from the labour market does not suffice. The need for social security arises both from demographic factors that affect nearly everyone during their life course – childhood, parenthood, old age – and from risk factors that will end up affecting only some – unemployment, sickness and disability. The course takes a comparative approach, examining differences in the design of social security policies across welfare regimes and drawing on examples from different countries. The focus is largely on industrialised countries, but the course also touches on issues arising in delivering social protection in other parts of the world. 


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

Formative coursework

Seminar members will be expected to make one presentation to the seminar group and submit one written paper during the course of the term. Students will also be expected to come to seminars each week prepared to present on and debate the week's key readings.

Indicative reading

Basic reading for the course includes: R Walker, Social Security and Welfare: Concepts and Comparisons, Oxford University Press, 2005; J Millar (Ed), Understanding Social Security, 2nd ed. The Policy Press, 2009; J Dixon, Social Security in Global Perspective, Praeger, 1999; J Hills, Good Times, Bad Times: The Welfare Myth of Them and Us, Policy Press, 2014; ILO, World Social Protection Report 2014/15: Building Economic Recovery, Inclusive Development and Social Justice.


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

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 16.3
Merit 71.4
Pass 8.2
Fail 4.1

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2015/16: 29

Average class size 2015/16: 15

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 94%



Reading list (Q2.1)


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