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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP5305M Social Policy Analysis

15 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Dr Albert Varela

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Module replaces

SLSP5117M Issues in Social Policy Analysis and Research

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module introduces students to the traditions, principles and methods of social policy analysis. Taking as its starting point the concept of Welfare States, it addresses both the concepts and contexts of policy making as a contested process of moral, pragmatic and/or evidence-based decision making. Using a problem-based pedagogy, based on close engagement with a selected social policy problem, students are encouraged to explore competing ideas and assumptions about welfare, and welfare mixes, the roles of different policy actors, social policy design and implementation challenges. Unintended consequences, conflict, compromise and uneasy alliances are introduced to consider how the original conception of a policy is often distorted.


On completion of this module, students should be able to relate policy analysis and evidence to current issues in Social Policy, and to understand the implications of different theoretical starting points for specific Social Policies.
They will have shown an ability to analyse social policies, explaining and evidencing the relevance of different theoretical debates, contextual factors and policy approaches.
Students will have demonstrated their ability to plan and present an analysis of a selected social policy topic through written communication. They will also have had the opportunity to further develop their presentation skills.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will:
a) have demonstrated the ability to explain and evaluate, in written communication, selected approaches deployed in analysing and investigating areas of Social Policy;
b) be able to use data and indicators as evidence;
c) have demonstrated their ability to plan and present an analysis of a selected topic through written communication;
d) have had the opportunity to further develop their presentation skills.


The module will address the political and theoretical bases for social policy and its challenge including socialism, liberalism and neo-Liberalism. It will also discuss the relationship between individual and state, the meaning of citizenship rights and the emergence of different welfare ‘systems’. Thirdly, it will engage with models and theories of social policy design and delivery including elitism, pluralism, street-level bureaucracy and invite students to consider the role of social movements and activisms in the development of policy.
Taking welfare states and social policy institutions as the context, the module explores the intellectual paths and means available for analysing and investigating policies and practices, and reviews some key foci for researchers.

It introduces students to a range of analytical starting points and theoretical perspectives, particularly as exemplified in Social Policy literature, and considers views about causation and the kinds of enquiries which have arisen linked to particular positions, values and settings.

The content may include, for example:

- Aims and purpose of welfare and ‘social’ policies
- Development and diversity of welfare states
- Analysis of actors and processes in policy making
- Policy evidence and measurement
- Transnational and global social policy

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning91.009.00
Private study hours116.00
Total Contact hours34.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

The private study represents a combination of preparation tasks for weekly learning units and seminars (these include weekly ‘set readings’ as well as notes and research task briefings). At the same time, students are encouraged to develop their assignment using a structured brief to respond to each topic covered throughout the module. Broadly, this corresponds to approximately 2 hours per week preparation, 8 hours preparation of a formative assignment plan and verbal presentation, and 100 hours personal research and writing for the final assignment, ongoing throughout the module.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Participating and attendance at seminars, individual discussions at tutor open door times, provision of an informal learning log in the VLE.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay or Dissertation3000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:30:03


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