The Third Sector: Charities and Social Enterprises in Modern Societies - SOCI6450

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


The module provides an overview of the contribution of the third sector to social, economic and political life. It includes analysis of definitions and categorisations, exploration of the theories which underpin the study of the third sector, an examination of theories and the current state of volunteering and charitable giving, examination of the historical and current public policy agenda in relation to the third sector in the UK, the EU and more generally and, an overview of current issues in the third sector and how social scientists go about studying them.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 22
Private Study Hours: 128
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Coursework - Essay (3,000 words) – 50%
Examination (2 hours) – 50%

Reassessment methods
Reassessment Instrument: 100% Coursework

Indicative reading

Anheier, H. (2005) Nonprofit Organisations: Theory, Management, Policy. Routledge.
Bridge, S., Murtagh, B. and O'Neill, K. (2008) Understanding the Social Economy and the Third Sector. Palgrave
Deakin, N. (2001) In Search of Civil Society. Palgrave
Evers, A. and Laville, J-L. (2003) The Third Sector in Europe. Edward Elgar.
Kendall, J. (2003) The Voluntary Sector: Comparative Perspectives in the UK. Routledge
Payton, R., and Moody, M. (2008) Understanding Philanthropy: It's Meaning and Mission. Indiana University Press
Rochester, C., Ellis Paine, A. and Howlett, S. (2010) Volunteering and Society in the 21st Century. Palgra
Steinberg, R. and Powell, W. (2nd edn, 2006) The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook. Yale University Press.
Warren, M. (2001) Democracy and Association. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes are as follows. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1.Demonstrate systematic sensitivity to the contested character of the sector's basic definition, and appreciate why and how boundary disputes persist;
2.Demonstrate understanding of the nature of, and rationale for, the third sector from key disciplinary perspectives (including politics, economics and sociology);
3.Demonstrate a sound grounding in the history, development and scope and scale of the sector in the UK;
4.Demonstrate understanding, in outline, of how the third sector participates in the policy process;
5.Set the British third sector in comparative perspective, with reference to the situation in other developed western countries;
6.Demonstrate understanding, in outline, of the achievements of, and limitations to, social science frameworks in evaluating the performance of the third sector.
7.Appropriately describe and anatomise the third sector's contribution to economic and social life by utilising - and understanding the limits of - relevant economic and social data

The intended generic learning outcomes are as follows. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1.Demonstrate their ability to find and critically assess relevant sources of information in the library and on-line;
2.Demonstrate, though participation in seminars, including group work in relation to key questions, the ability to operate collectively, and how to present argument and evidence effectively to fellow participants;
3.Demonstrate, though writing critical essays, the ability to present argument and evidence effectively


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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