Not available in 2020/21
Poverty, Inequality, and Social Policy

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Amanda Sheely OLD.2.52


This course is available on the BSc in Criminology, BSc in Environment and Development, BSc in International Social and Public Policy, BSc in International Social and Public Policy and Economics, BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics, 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. This course is available with permission 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 first summative essay, which is a book review, students will be asked to write a 500 word description of the book, as well as the main assertions that book makes about poverty and disadvantage. For the second summative essay, students will prepare and present a one-page outline of their policy critique. 

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.


Essay (60%, 2000 words) in the ST.
Essay (40%, 1500 words) in the LT.

Summative assessment for this course comprises two essays. The first essay, which takes the format of a book critique is worth 40% of the mark and is due at the end of Lent Term. The second essay is a policy evaluation. This essay is worth 60% of the mark and is due in Summer Term. 

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: 24

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Capped 2019/20: Yes (45)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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