Learning by Giving - Philanthropy in Action - SOCI6240

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) Alison Body checkmark-circle


This module will provide students with an understanding of both the art and science of philanthropy (that is 'voluntary action for public good'), culminating with students distributing philanthropic funding to local community causes. Exploring the role of philanthropy in contemporary society, students would be encouraged to critically examine who gives in society and why. We will examine the mechanisms of giving, and how and why philanthropy impacts on all parts of civil society. We explore the economic, social and moral frameworks of giving, debating notions of worthy and unworthy causes, and how social policy shapes philanthropic giving, as well as how philanthropy helps shape and drive social policy. As part of this module students will be facilitated to reflect on and make their own giving decisions, exploring the role of the philanthropist and how to define philanthropic impact. The module concludes with students ‘becoming’ philanthropists, distributing small grants to local organisations and evaluating these giving decisions.


Contact hours

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


BA Social Policy and joint honours Social Policy programmes
BA Sociology and joint honours sociology programmes
BA Cultural Studies and Media and joint honours Cultural Studies and Media programmes
BA Criminology and joint honours Criminology programmes
Also available as a 'wild' module

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework - reflective essay (1500 words) – 20%
Coursework - Community Needs Assessment and Organisation Analysis (2,500 words) – 40%
Coursework - Presentation in small groups (10 mins plus supporting documentation) – 40%

Reassessment methods

100% coursework

Indicative reading

Buchanan, P. (2019) Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count. New York: Public Affairs
Friedman, E. (2013). Reinventing Philanthropy: A Framework for More Effective Giving. Washington DC: Potomac Books.
Frumkin, P. (2006) Strategic Giving: The Art and Science of Philanthropy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kass, A. (2007) Giving Well, Doing Good: Readings for Thoughtful Philanthropists, Indiana: Indiana University Press
MacAskill, W. (2015) Doing Good Better: A radical new way to make a difference. London: Guardian Books
Tierney, T., & Fleishman, L. (2011). Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results New York: Public Affairs Books.

Learning outcomes

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

8.1 Demonstrate systematic knowledge and critical understanding of the principles and theories that explain philanthropy and philanthropic
8.2 Show the ability to apply underlying concepts and principles of philanthropy in addressing local community and societal issues;
8.3 Possess and demonstrate systematic knowledge and critical understanding of the evolution of philanthropy and the role of philanthropy in
the United Kingdom and be able to critically evaluate the impact at a local community level.
8.4 Demonstrate systematic knowledge of philanthropic decision making, and ability to evaluate critically the appropriateness of different
approaches in solving local community issues

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

9.1 Use a range of established critical thinking techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information, and to propose solutions to
local social problems arising from that analysis;
9.2 Effectively communicate information, devise and sustain arguments, and analysis, in a variety of forms, to specialist and non-specialist
audiences, and deploy key techniques of the discipline effectively;
9.3 Effectively work as part of a team to propose joint solutions to local problems


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 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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