SP413      Half Unit
Understanding Social (Dis)advantage

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr. Amanda Sheely OLD 2.52


This course is available on the MSc in Criminal Justice Policy, MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (LSE and Fudan), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Research) and MSc in Social Research Methods. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All Social Policy Courses are ‘Controlled Access’. Please see the link below for further details on the allocation process.


Amongst non Social Policy students, priority for places is given to students on the MSc Inequalities and Social Science.

Course content

This course addresses the emergence, maintenance and dynamics of social advantage and disadvantage in different areas of life across different social groups. It explores inequalities in income, poverty & wealth, labour market position, family resources, education, crime, and life chances, with reference to social groups defined according to their gender, ethnicity, as well as citizenship and migration status. It pays specific attention to intersectional, cumulative and relational processes in the reproduction of inequalities. 


Courses in Social Policy will follow the Teaching Model which has been adopted by the Department of Social Policy during the period of the pandemic. This is outlined HERE


This course will be taught through a combination of either a recorded lecture plus a follow-up Q and A session or a ‘live’ on-line lecture; and classes/seminars of 1-1.5 hours (with size and length of classes/seminars depending on social distancing requirements).

Further information will be provided by the Course Convenor in the first lecture of the course.

The course will be delivered in Lent term.

Formative coursework

In LT, students will be required to write a 1,200 word formative essay answering a question from a prior year's exam.

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 Press.
  • McCall, L. (2005). ‘The Complexity of Intersectionality’. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30(3): 1771–800. 
  • Atkinson, A.B. (2015). Inequality: What can be done? Harvard University Press.
  • Faist, T. (2016) 'Cross-Border Migration and Social Inequalities'. Annual Review of Sociology, 42: 323-346.
  • Payne, G. (ed.) 2013. Social Divisions. Third Edition. Palgrave Macmilla.


Online assessment (100%).

The summative assessment for this course comprises an online assessment. Students must answer two out of seven questions that will be given a week in advance of the due date. The maximum word limit for each question is 1,200 words. 

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 62

Average class size 2020/21: 8

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

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