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Unit information: Social Care in Crisis in 2020/21

Unit name Social Care in Crisis
Unit code SPOL20047
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Cameron
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit focuses on the provision of personal social services and the political, social and economic values that underlie policies in this field. Key concepts considered include need, risk, care and dependency. Students will consider trends and developments in social care, including the development of the mixed economy of provision as well as the personalisation agenda, and the implications of these developments for different groups of service users. Key themes discussed in this unit include how services are financed; what role the private sector should play in the provision of social care and who should assess an individuals need for services. The unit aims to provide students with a critical appreciation of contemporary debates about how and why personal social care services are delivered in their current configuration.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to;

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of historical and current policy trends in social care practice such as: deinstitutionalisation, personalisation, marketization and deprofessionalisation.
  2. Critically appraise contemporary perspectives on dependency, need, risk and care.
  3. Describe and critically assess current issues in the policy, planning and delivery of services.
  4. Evaluate the impact of changes in policy and practice on users of services; carers; social workers/ care workers and, providers of services.
  5. Demonstrate an ability to communicate key debates to different audiences.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through blended learning involving a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including weekly narrated presentations, practical activities supported by study-group sessions and self-directed exercises. The narrated power point presentations will cover conceptual and theoretical aspects of social care policy and practice as well as consideration of the research evidence. In-depth extended learning will take the form of self-paced, material delivered electronically, and undertaken individually or in groups and involving elements of tutor feedback and peer-assessment. Small group exercises will be used to foster collaborative learning. Feedback will be provided for formal assessments, preparation for which will be supported through online activities and in weekly study group sessions with tutors.

Assessment Details

Part 1: Policy brief (1000 words) (25%) - assesses ILOs 1,4 & 5

Part 2: Essay (2000 words) (75%) - assesses ILOs 1,2,3 & 4

Reading and References

  • Baldock, J. Mitton, L., Manning, N., and Vickerstaff , S. (2012) Social Policy 4th Edn Chaps. 13 and 14
  • Ferguson, I. (2007) Increasing User Choice or Privatising Risk? The Antinomies of Perzonalisation. British Journal of Social Work. 37:387-403
  • Lymbery, M., Postle, K. (2015) Social work and the transformation of adult social care: perpetuating a distorted vision? Bristol, Policy Press
  • Means, R., Richards, S., Smith, R. (2008) Community care: policy and practice. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
  • Needham, C. (2011) Personalising Public Services: understanding the personalization narrative. Bristol, Policy Press
  • Needham, C., Glasby, J. (2015) Debates in personalisation. Bristol, Policy Press.