The Foundations of Social Policy

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof David Lewis


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

Places on this course are limited to 45 and priority is given to Social Policy students in the first instance. If places remain available once Social Policy students have been accommodated, they will be offered on a first come first served basis to students from outside the department. If you would like to take SA100 as an outside option, please contact the Undergraduate Programme Manager who will be able to advise you on availability (contact details available on the Social Policy web pages).

This course is not available to third year students.

Course content

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

The first half of the course examines the development, structure and restructuring of the welfare state; key perspectives on welfare; key concepts, such as social rights; and the organisation of social welfare provision, including the governance and financing of welfare. The second half of the course extends this learning to examine the nature of social provision in different areas of social policy, such as employment, education, housing, health and social care. If focuses on the changing roles and relations between the state, market, third sector, family and individual, and concludes by examining how the welfare state has changed since the 2008 economic crisis and the effects for different social groups. The course develops students' skills in drawing on a range of appropriate literature to support and develop arguments, and in understanding the use of different types of research in social policy analysis. 


10 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Additional classes in the reading week (Week 6) to provide support with coursework.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to submit three pieces of written work (one in MT and two in LT), and to read for and prepare contributions to class discussion each week.

Indicative reading

P Alcock, T Haux, M May & S Wright (Eds), The Student's Companion To Social Policy, 5th edn, 2016; J Baldock, N Manning, S Vickerstaff and L Mitton (Eds), Social Policy, 4th edn, 2011; H Dean, Social Policy, Short Introductions, 2nd edn, 2012; C Pierson, F G Castles & I Naumann (Eds), The Welfare State Reader, 3rd edn, 2014; M Daly, Welfare, 2011. These are introductory texts; a full reading list will be provided in the first lecture of MT.


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

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
First 8.8
2:1 68
2:2 16.8
Third 3.2
Fail 3.2

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2017/18: 40

Average class size 2017/18: 14

Capped 2017/18: Yes (45)

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 45%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)