Understanding International Social and Public Policy

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Isabel Shutes OLD.2.58


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

Places on this course are limited to 45 and priority is given to Social Policy students in the first instance, for whom this is a core course.

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. 

This course is not available to third year students.

Course content

The course introduces students to the study and practice of international social and public policy. It considers how and why societies organise to address social needs, with reference to policy and academic debates across so-called developed and developing country contexts. In the first half of the course, we consider different approaches to conceptualising the organisation of activities to address social needs. We examine the development of and changes to welfare systems and strategies in different contexts, and the roles and relationships of the state, market, civil society and families, drawing on selected country case studies. In the second half, we examine how individuals are positioned in different ways in welfare systems and strategies (e.g. as citizens, consumers, activists), with reference to different policy agendas and institutional reforms, and to the implications for the agency of people in addressing social needs. 


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to participate actively in course activities and to complete two formative essays and a mock exam. 

Indicative reading

Daly, M. (2011) Welfare. Cambridge: Polity.

Garland, D. (2016) The Welfare State: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Garthwaite, K. (2017) ‘“I feel I’m giving something back to society”: constructing the ‘active citizen’ and responsibilising foodbank use’, Social Policy & Society, 16: 2, 283-292.

Kabeer, N., Cook, S. (2000) ‘Revisioning social policy in the South: challenges and concepts’, IDS Bulletin, 31: 4, 1-18.

Lewis, D. (2017) ‘Should we pay more attention to South-North learning?’, Human Service Organisations: Management, Leadership and Governance, 41: 4, 327-331.

Powell, M. (2007) Understanding the Mixed Economy of Welfare. Bristol: Policy Press.


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

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills