Understanding International Social and Public Policy

This information is for the 2020/21 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 Politics and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Places on this course are limited to 60 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 societies organise to address social needs, with reference to academic and policy debates across the so-called global North and South. In the first half of the course (Michaelmas Term), we consider key concepts and approaches relating to systems to address social needs. We examine the institutions and actors involved in those systems in different contexts, including the roles and relationships of the market, state, civil society and families. In the second half (Lent Term), we examine the interactions between inequalities and systems for addressing social needs, including the agency of people in those processes.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to participate actively in course activities and to complete two formative assignments. 

Indicative reading

Artaraz, K. and Hill, M. (2016) Global Social Policy: Themes, Issues and Actors. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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

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

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.


Coursework (20%).
Take-home assessment (80%) in the ST.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2019/20: 59

Average class size 2019/20: 83

Capped 2019/20: Yes (45)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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