Sociology and Social Policy

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Thomas Biegert OLD.2.54

Thomas Biegert OLD 2.54


This course is available on the BSc in International Social and Public Policy, BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics, 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.

This course is not available to third year students.

Course content

This course introduces students to sociological ideas and thinking and how they link to key social policy issues. 

The course is organised around six major social policy concerns : gender inequalities; educational opportunity and inequality; class mobility and stratification; social networks and social segregation; neighbourhood deprivation and housing; ethnic and racial inequalities.

These are related to key classical and contemporary theoretical perspectives and concepts that have been used to describe and explain them, such as occupational segregation, discrimination, cultural and social capital, institutions, socialisation, identity and belonging, and intergenerational transmission of status, values and resources.


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 lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

One essay in MT

One group presentation in MT and one in LT

Indicative reading

The course will draw on three core texts, as well as academic journal articles:

David Grusky, D. and Szelenyi, S. (eds.) 2011 The Inequality Reader: Contemporary and Foundational Readings in Race, Class, and Gender. 2nd Edition. Westview Press Oxford University Press

Payne, G. (ed.) 2013 Social Divisions. Third Edition.Palgrave Macmillan

Platt, L. 2019 Understanding Inequalities: Stratification and Difference. 2nd Edition. Polity Press.

For those unfamiliar or without a background in Sociology, the following text provides useful background: Fulcher, J. and Scott, J. (2011) Sociology, 4th Edition.


Exam (60%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.
Essay (40%, 1500 words) in the LT.

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: 31

Average class size 2019/20: 16

Capped 2019/20: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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