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Unit information: Social Policy and the European Union in 2018/19

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 European Union
Unit code SPOL20051
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Kennett
Open unit status Open




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


The unit will develop students' understanding of institutions and policy processes within the European Union. It will explore a range of theoretical perspectives on the development of the 'European Social Model' and consider the role of the EU itself in social policy. The unit will consider the tensions and nature of relations between the European Union and member states. Key issues to be explored include poverty and social exclusion, education, citizenship, migration and integration policies, as well as the implications of enlargement for the development of social policy and the future of the EU. The unit will also consider the nature, responses to and impact of the global economic crisis on European integration and the European Social Model.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students should expect to:

  • Understand policy processes within the European Union and the nature of relations between the European Union and the member states;
  • Understand the development of the European Social Model and changing dynamics of European Union social policy.
  • Understand the dynamics, impact and responses to the 2008 economic crisis in Europe and the implications for the European Social Model and European Integration.
  • Develop the tools to be able to critically analyse welfare provision in Europe and EU social policy.
  • Be familiar with theoretical and empirical literature on social policy and welfare-state regimes in Europe.
  • Have developed a sharp awareness of contemporary debates in the policy field, in particular those relating to poverty, migration, asylum, and education, as well as European integration and the UKs future in the EU.

Teaching details

The unit is taught by a series of 10 lectures, followed each week by a class. The classes involve a mixture of student presentations of literature and exercises.

Assessment Details

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

Formative assessment: One 2000-2500 word essay

Summative assessment: 3,000 word essay

Reading and References

  • May, S. And Verwiebe, R. (2010) European Societies. Mapping Structure and Change. Bristol: The Policy Press.
  • Kleinman, M. (2002) A European Welfare State? EU Social Policy in Context, Basingstoke: Palgrave. HN380.5 KLE.
  • Geyer, R. (2000) Exploring European Social Policy, HN380.5.A8 GEY.
  • Hantrais, L. (2007) Social Policy in the European Union, 3rd Edition, Basingstoke: Macmillan, HN380.5 HAN.