SA429      Half Unit
Understanding Social (Dis)advantage

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Lucinda Platt OLD 2.25


This course is available on the MPA in European Policy-Making, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in City Design and Social Science, MSc in Criminal Justice Policy, MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities, MSc in Global Population Health, MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, 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, MSc in Social Policy and Development: Non-Governmental Organisations and Master of Public Administration. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course is currently capped at 60 places. Offers of places will be made on the basis of applicants' statements. Priority for places is given to students on Social Policy MSc programmes and to students on the MSc Inequalities and Social Science. 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. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students have the option of submitting a formative essay.

Indicative reading

The core text for the course is: H Dean & L Platt (eds) 2016.Social Advantage and Disadvantage. Oxford University Press. Other indicative background reading: Milanovic, B. 2016. Global Inequality. The Belknap Pess. Held, D. and Kaya, A. (eds). 2007. Global Inequality. Polity; Dorling, D. 2010.  Injustice: Why social inequality matters.The Policy Press; Payne, G. (ed.) 2013. Social Divisions. Third Edition. Palgrave Macmillan; Platt, L. 2011. Understanding Inequalities. Polity.


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

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 6.3
Merit 68.4
Pass 22.8
Fail 2.5

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2016/17: 53

Average class size 2016/17: 13

Controlled access 2016/17: Yes

Lecture capture used 2016/17: 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

(2014/15 - 2015/16 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 69%



Reading list (Q2.1)


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