module specification

SS5015 - Social Problems and Social Policy (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Social Problems and Social Policy
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Short Answers 250 words each
Group Presentation 20%   Presentation using photovoice
Coursework 50%   Final Policy Analysis Report
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Monday Morning

Module summary

The module deals with the mainstream perspectives and concepts which underpin the shaping of modern social policy, using the social problems perspective developed in level 4. It also examines critical and radical perspectives. The module addresses concrete policy making and the implementation processes using contemporary examples from social problems in the UK and Europe.  

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

  1. To develop students’ understanding of how social problems and social policy relate
  2. To examine the relationship between the process of policy making and policy implementation, alongside its impact using some key social problem examples.
  3. To elucidate key concepts in social policy: needs, citizenship; community; liberty; equality; social justice; social exclusion.
  4. To delineate shifting debates about social problems and relate these to the delivery of benefits and services.


The social problems perspective
Key concepts: relating social problems and social policy
Economic and political context of welfare
Power structures in policy making: levels of governance; devolution; social movements
Implementation and delivery: the roles of market, family, not-for-profit and public sector
Social Problems and policy solutions in the UK & Europe

Learning and teaching

Teaching will comprise weekly classroom style workshops with interactive exercises and discussions 
Teaching will be informed by research and scholarly activity of the tutors
Learning will be supported by the weblearn site for the modules which will include all the teaching materials and a wide range of learning resources

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  1. Elucidate key social problems that shape social policy discourses and their implementation
  2. Describe and dissect the relationship between social policy  and government in meeting basic needs and addressing social problems
  3. Elaborate on how the concepts of citizenship, social justice, family and individual responsibility, and social exclusion are applied in students’ experience of welfare
  4. Identify and analyse the changing power structures at local, regional, national and supranational levels of governance in the delivery of public obligations and recognition of social needs

Assessment strategy

1. Coursework: four short answers, 250 words each

2. Presentation (using photovoice)

3. Final Policy Analysis Report



Key text:  S. Isaacs (ed)  European Social Problems, Routledge 2017

McBride, S. & Evans, B., The Austerity State, UOT Press

Fitzpatrick, T. (2011) Welfare Theory: An Introduction, Palgrave

Hills, J. (2009) Towards a More Equal Society, Policy Press

Hudson, J. and Lowe, S. (2009) Understanding the Policy Process, Policy Press

Lister, R. (2010) Understanding Theories and Concepts in Social Policy, Policy Press