module specification

SS7152 - Social Policy Themes and Priorities: Local, Regional and Global (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Social Policy Themes and Priorities: Local, Regional and Global
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 200
160 hours Guided independent study
40 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 15%   Four short answers, 1000 words
Coursework 15%   Case study report: 1000 words
Coursework 70%   Essay: 3,000 words
Running in 2018/19
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Thursday Evening

Module summary

The module starts from the proposition that the study of social policy includes much more than the study of western welfare states. It examines critically the ways in which societies and communities from the local to the transnational, not just governments, address (or fail to address) basic needs. The module uses a selection of policy examples which aim to address a range of basic needs such as access to paid employment, healthcare, schooling, citizenship, family benefits, in and out of work benefits, pensions, affordable housing, adult care, early childhood education and care. It will look at aspects of these through various analytic lenses, including the impact of policies on social divisions, and the roles of neoliberalism, globalisation, social investment, human development, social development, antiracist and feminist perspectives. The module includes a ‘regional’ approach, covering some of the following: the European Union; Latin America; North America; sub-Saharan Africa; East Asia; the Indian sub-continent. The most prominent approaches to comparative social policy are pervasive, namely: regime analysis, path dependency/institutionalism, and convergent functionalism.

Module aims

  • To familiarize students with key issues surrounding global definitions and parameters of basic needs, social inequalities, poverty, human development and social development.
  • To advance students’ reflexive application of prominent perspectives including neoliberalism, feminism, and social investment.
  • To appraise and use official data and appropriate social research to understand the impact of social policies in both mitigating and strengthening social divisions in local, national and global contexts


  • theories of basic needs, social risks, and welfare institutions – family, civil society, state
  • data and research sources: NGO’s, IGO’s, governments, social research
  • analytical methods: regime analysis, path dependency/institutionalism, convergence/functionalism/globalisation
  • key perspectives: neoliberalism, social investment/development, feminism…
  • the welfare state in the West: achievements and challenges – social spending, relative poverty, employment, social divisions,  social exclusion, austerity, ageing
  • social policy in the global south: local case studies (eg. maternal mortality); national programmes eg. conditional welfare, national health insurance; transnational actors and agencies; the rise and fall of structural adjustment; the Millennium Development goals…

Learning and teaching

The main concepts and themes are introduced through lectures, supported by WebLearn documentation. Action Learning and Cooperative Inquiry sessions will be used for the discussion of data, student reading, experience and other material.  Students (individually and in small groups) will prepare and lead discussions using short readings or samples of data to be analysed with directed questions, as well as using where appropriate their professional and personal experience.

Learning outcomes

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

  • digest and evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the field of global and comparative social policy
  • analyse the intersecting social policy roles of families/households, non-profit organisations, business, and governmental bodies (local, national and transnational).
  • apply reflexively different approaches to analysis: regime theory, path dependency, convergence/globalisation.

Assessment strategy

Three items of coursework, spaced regularly across the module:
Coursework 1 in week 5 is designed to test students’ familiarity with core concepts and approaches, requiring four short answers to a total of 1000 words
Coursework 2 (week 10) is a policy case study report with a prescribed format on either one country or one policy area – 1000 words
Coursework 3 (week 15) is an essay 3000 words in length from a prescribed list of questions, building on courseworks 1 and 2.


Bonoli, G. & Natali, D. (2012) The Politics of the New Welfare State, Oxford University Press
Costa-Font, J. (2011) Reforming Long Term Care In Europe, Wiley-Blackwell
Deacon, B. (2013) Global Social Policy In The Making, Policy Press
Farnsworth, K. & Irving, Z. (2011) Social Policy in Challenging Times, Policy Press
Hemerijck, A. (2012) Changing Welfare States, Oxford University Press
Hopper, P. (2012) Understanding Development, Polity Press
Huber, E. & Stephens, J. (2012) Democracy and the Left: Social Policy & Inequality in Latin America, Chicago University Press
Kennett, P. (2013) Handbook of Comparative Social Policy, Elgar
Midgley, J. (2014) Social Development, Sage
Yeates, N. (2008) Understanding Global Social Policy, Policy Press

Annual World Development Reports from the World Bank at
Annual Human Development Reports from the UN Development Programme:
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) – open access research archive at