Skip to main content

Unit information: Social Policy and the Welfare State: Key Concepts and Contemporary Ideas in 2013/14

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Social Policy and the Welfare State: Key Concepts and Contemporary Ideas
Unit code SPOL10013
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Pemberton
Open unit status Open




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


This unit will seek to introduce students to the key concepts and issues in social policy. In the first part of the unit, a series of key concepts, such as need, globalisation, citizenship and risk will be addressed. The second part of the unit will serve to illustrate the utility of these concepts to the analysis of a number of contemporary issues. The unit will focus on current debates in a variety of areas of social policy: eployment, housing and poverty.


The unit provides an introduction to the key concepts in social policy. Each concept will be assessed in conjunction with existing academic critiques as well as their practical utility to policy making decisions. These concepts will be explored in conjunction with key issues in social policy and welfare.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Understand the key concepts in social policy
  • Be familiar with contemporary social policy issues
  • Be able to apply concepts to the analysis of contemporary issues

Teaching details

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment Details

Assessment will be against the programme criteria defined for the appropriate level.

Formative assessment: One 1,500-2,000 word essay

Summative assessment: 3 hour unseen exam

Reading and References

  • Alcock, P, Erskine, A and May, M (2003) (2nd Edn.) The Student's Companion to Social Policy, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford
  • Alcock, P. (2003) Social policy in Britain: themes and issues, Basingstoke: Palgrave
  • Baldock, J. et al (2003) Social Policy, 2nd ed, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Blakemore, K. (2003) Social policy: an introduction, Buckingham: OUP.
  • Fitzpatrick, T. (2001) Welfare theory: an introduction, London: Palgrave