Poverty, Inequality, and Social Policy

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Amanda Sheely, OLD.2.52


This course is available on the BSc in Environment and Development, 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 as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course will examine the definition, measurement and causes of poverty and social disadvantage in general and analyse selected aspects drawn from the following: social and demographic change, gender and ethnic inequality,  unemployment, worklessness, social security and poverty, area deprivation, educational inequality, and social exclusion. This course draws primarily on examples from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Western Europe.


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

Formative coursework

As preparation for the exam, students will be asked to write a response to an exam question from a prior year. This response will be due the first week of Lent Term. In Lent Term, students will also be asked to prepare an outline response to the summative coursework. This will be due in reading week of Lent Term.

Indicative reading

A detailed list will be provided at the start of the session.  H Dean & L Platt (2016) Social Advantage and Disadvantage Oxford University Press; J Hills (2014). Good Times, Bad Times: The Welfare Myth of Them and Us Policy Press; AB Atkinson (2015) Inequality: What Can Be Done? Harvard University Press; S.P. Jenkins (2011) Changing Fortunes: Income Mobility and Poverty Dynamics in Britain Oxford University Press; T. Shildrick, R. MacDonald, C. Webster, & K Garthwaite (2010). The Low-Pay, No-Pay Cycle: Understanding Recurrent Poverty Joseph Rowntree Foundation.


Exam (50%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (50%, 2000 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
First 4.5
2:1 70.1
2:2 22.4
Third 1.5
Fail 1.5

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2017/18: 38

Average class size 2017/18: 13

Capped 2017/18: Yes (45)

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

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

Course survey results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 63%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)