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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED3207 International Development and Social Policy

20 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Dr Lata Narayanaswamy

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

It is advised that students would have undertaken at least one International Development related subject before studying this module.

This module explores recent scholarship that critically reframes the relationship between social policy, understood broadly as those policies designed to address and alleviate social problems with a view to promoting human welfare and social development, and the diverse development challenges faced by the global South. The module uses a case-study based approach to explore cross-cutting themes including, for example, disability, hunger/food, education, labour/employment, health, housing, gender and intersectional inequality. Students explore questions around how social policies might be designed and implemented, and by whom, to address poverty and inequality, and thereby achieve more positive development outcomes.


This module investigates the relationship of policy and policy processes in international development to address social inequalities and human development. Widening understandings of social policy beyond Western/Eurocentric frameworks is a core element of the module, challenging what this term means and how ideas around policies to promote social welfare are being adapted, translated and challenged in developing country contexts. Students explore various approaches to theorising about the role of the state, the market, communities, and individuals in providing social welfare and tackling social inequalities. It analyses notions of need, entitlement, solidarity, merit and redistribution and the capacity of social policy within this to respond to these interrelated challenges, alongside case studies that chart new approaches to social policy and development emerging from the Global South.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, you will have learned to:
- Identify a range of approaches to social policy, and examine both the strengths and limitations of these approaches for addressing global development challenges
- Understand theories of social redistribution and welfare, the role of different actors, and analyse their effectiveness in a shifting global environment
- Critically evaluate and assess the aims, strategies and limitations of the various actors involved in social policy formulation given the variability and diversity of governance and policy structures in developing country contexts.


The module is divided into three core sections. Firstly, it introduces social policy and the policy process including the following: What do we mean by social policy? How can we understand the policy process in the context of global development? Who is social policy for and who pays for it? It explores this changing terrain and some of the key ideas underpinning the growing convergence between social policy and development, including evidence-based policy, the new public management and payment-by results, considering how these concerns are inflected in theoretical approaches to welfare, social inequality and global policy. Secondly, it considers social policy in the context of development and the concomitant globalisation of key social policy challenges in terms of both issues and actors. Students explore issues related to accountability; policy formulation, implementation, practice and evaluation; and the resources available (both in terms of finance and capabilities) to undertake social policies, considered in relation to key stakeholders including not just states but also IGOs, civil society and private interests. Challenges to social policy formulation and implementation that are considered here include corruption, weak governance and fragile states where development challenges are the most acute. Thirdly, concerns around inclusion and exclusion are considered. Which individuals/groups is social policy meant to reach, and who in this formulation falls through the cracks? Case study material of emergent social policies in diverse developing country contexts are used to identify and analyse how questions around rights and entitlements underpin notions of inclusion and exclusion in both mainstream social policy and development theory. Cross-cutting themes, such as disability, hunger/food, education, labour/employment, health, housing, gender and intersectional inequality are drawn out from case-studies, allowing students to achieve learning outcomes through a comparative, rather than sectoral, approach.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Independent study facilitated by resources on the VLE and resources in the library. Students will also be required to conduct independent research into particular case studies in preparation for seminars, essays and exams.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Each week students will unpack various policy initiatives, relate this back to theory, and examine the available evidence of any social impact, with a particular focus on drawing out relevant lessons from case studies and other relevant readings.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 1000 Mid-Term Essay40.00
Report1 x 2,500 End of term - Policy Briefing Document60.00
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: 13/11/2023


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