SA429      Half Unit
Understanding Social (Dis)advantage

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Emma Platt OLD 2.25


This course is available on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Criminal Justice Policy, MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities, MSc in Health, Population and Society, 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 with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course is currently capped at 45 places. Offers of places will be made on the basis of applicants' statements. Initial  priority for places is given to students on Social Policy MSc programmes. Students from departments other than the Department of Social Policy may be accepted onto a waiting list. Places remaining available three days before the start of the course will not be held back for late applicants from Social Policy programmes but offered to students from the waiting list.

Course content

This course focuses on the emergence of a range of concepts key to social policy relating to selective cumulative advantage and disadvantage in society, including concepts that supersede or complement classic concepts of poverty, such as social exclusion, capability deprivation, social immobility, social/cultural capital deficiency. It examines the uses of such concepts in both developing and industrialised countries. Topics addressed on the course may include - changes in inequality and their causes; the theoretical and empirical issues provoked by the 'underclass' debate; family change and disadvantage; long term unemployment and welfare-to-work; area segregation, housing and 'welfare ghettos'; ethnic division; disability; employment; education; crime; social exclusion and citizenship.


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

Formative coursework

Students have the option of submitting a formative essay.

Indicative reading

Basic reading list for the course includes: H Dean & L Platt (eds), Social Advantage and Disadvantage, OUP, forthcoming; R Lister (Ed), Charles Murray and the Underclass: the developing debate, IEA, 1996; D Held and A Kaya (Eds), Global Inequality, Polity, 2007; J Hills et al (Eds), Understanding Social Exclusion, OUP, 2002; D. Dorling, Injustice: Why social inequality matters, The Policy Press, 2010; G Payne (ed.) (2013) Social Divisions (3/e), Palgrave Macmillan, 2013; L Platt, Understanding Inequalities, Polity, 2011; T Ridge & S Wright (eds), Understanding Inequality, Poverty and Wealth, The Policy Press, 2008.  


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 12.1
Merit 66.7
Pass 18.2
Fail 3

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2015/16: 44

Average class size 2015/16: 15

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2012/13, 2014/15 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 92%



Reading list (Q2.1)


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Lectures (Q2.5)


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