Social Policy and Social Problems - SO310

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
(version 2)
View Timetable
4 15 (7.5) DR S Rajan Rankin







Students will explore definitions of social policy, need and social problems, the concept of the welfare state – including a historical overview from Social Democracy to the New Right and ‘The Third way’, and a comparison of ‘welfare types’.
They will study poverty, social need, patterns of inequality and their impact, the policy context in relation to trends in family life and family problems, the role of feminism in shaping social policy, the gendered nature of domestic violence, and policy around domestic violence from the crisis to the multi-agency approaches of the late 1990s. Key themes and perspectives in child care policy will be explored, including the tensions between the philosophies of ‘child rescue’ and ‘family support’, and New Labour and the ‘social investment’ approach.
Students will examine ethics and risk in relation to social policy, including the ethical considerations that impact on people’s lives as recipients and providers of services, and the concepts of rationing, targeting and entitlement. They will consider health inequalities and the impact of key variables of gender, ethnicity and social class on patterns of health inequality. Ageing as a social issue will be explored, and the idea of Community Care and a reliance on the community and more informal care. Students will also consider the causes of youth unemployment and policy responses, youth offending and youth justice policies, and will explore the tensions between ‘care’ and ‘control’ and public protection.

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed by course work consisting of two equally weighted assignments. Each will be 2,000 words in length:
• Assignment 1 will be an analysis of a short film (50%)
• Assignment 2 will be an essay (50%)

Both assignments will test the students’ ability to relate their knowledge and understanding of social policy topic areas to social work practice, therefore enabling students to meet learning outcomes.

Students will be awarded a final mark based on the average across the assessed work for this module

Indicative reading

Alcock P, May M, Wright S (eds) (4th Ed) (2012) Students Companion to Social Policy. Wiley Blackwell

Baldock J, Milton L, Manning W, Vickerstaff S (2011) Social Policy. Open University Press

Blackmore K & Griggs E (2007) (3rd Ed) Social Policy: An Introduction. Open University Press

Byrne, D. (2005) Social Exclusion. Open University Press
Cunningham J & Cunningham S (2012) Social Policy & Social Work. Sage
Dickens J (2010) Social Work & Social Policy: An Introduction. Routledge
Glasby, J. (2007) Understanding Health & Social Care. The Polity Press
Peckham, S. & Meerabeau, L. (2007) Social Policy for Nurses and The Helping Professions. Open University Press
Pierson C. 3rd ed. (2006) Beyond the Welfare State - The New Political Economy of Welfare. Polity
Powell M (ed) (2007) Understanding The Mixed Economy of Welfare. The Polity Press
Taylor G (2007) Ideology & Welfare. Palgrave Macmillan

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module the students will be able to:
11.1 Demonstrate their ability to understand and assess the complex social, economic, political and cultural contexts in which social work practice is located.

11.2 Demonstrate an understanding of the processes and explanations in the way society defines and constructs social problems and the impact on individuals, families and communities and the problems of inequality and differential need

11.3 Demonstrate an understanding of the key underlying concepts of social policy how it address social need whilst creating new challenges and issues for policy-makers, taking both a historical and comparative perspective

11.4 Develop argument/critique about the effects of social policies, particularly focussing on social exclusion and poverty in relation to people who use social work services.

11.5 Evaluate the 'market' and 'state' approaches to solving social problems and to apply their knowledge gained from the module to a range of social policy topics.

11.6 Interpret and evaluate key concepts in welfare services and delivery; particularly the social democratic and neo-liberal approaches to 'welfare'.

11.7 Understand and evaluate trends in modern public and social policy and their applicability to contemporary practice and service delivery in social work.

11.8 Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between legislative and legal frameworks and service delivery standards including the tensions between statute, policy and practice.

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.