Social Policy and Social Problems - SOCI3100

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 4 15 (7.5) Vanisha Jassal checkmark-circle


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.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


Social Work BA - compulsory module

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework assignment (3000 words) – 100%
[There is an additional formative coursework assignment (1000 words) but this is NOT part of the main assessment]

Reassessment methods

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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

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Demonstrate their ability to understand and assess the complex social, economic, political and cultural contexts in which social work
practice is located
8.2 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
8.3 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
8.4 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.
8.5 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.
8.6 Interpret and evaluate key concepts in welfare services and delivery; particularly the social democratic and neo-liberal approaches to
8.7 Understand and evaluate trends in modern public and social policy and their applicability to contemporary practice and service delivery in
social work.
8.8 Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between legislative and legal frameworks and service delivery standards including the
tensions between statute, policy and practice.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Capacity to gather and evaluate library and web based resources (e-journals and other on-line resources) appropriate to certificate level
9.2 The ability to integrate theoretical perspectives and evidence from a range of appropriate sources in order to construct a coherent
argument in writing


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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