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Unit information: Poverty, Social Exclusion and Social Policy in 2015/16

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Unit name Poverty, Social Exclusion and Social Policy
Unit code SPOL30019
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Gumy
Open unit status Open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit focuses on poverty, deprivation and exclusion, and income maintenance policy. Thus we look at the distribution of poverty and consider whether state income maintenance policies resolve poverty, or even intend to. The unit begins with a consideration of the role of policy in providing social security. We then look in detail at poverty, deprivation and social exclusion, focusing on definitions and measurements of poverty, deprivation and exclusion, and highlighting issues of age, gender, ethnicity, poverty amongst children and disability. We also explore theories which attempt to explain the persistence of poverty in modern welfare states. The unit then explores income maintenance policies and the ways in which the objectives and outcomes of social security systems have changed in recent years as the balance between using the social security system to reduce inequalities between income groups and different household types, and using it to encourage particular behaviour has altered.


The unit aims to introduce students to the role of social security in the welfare state, to the relationship between social security policies and poverty, deprivation and social exclusion and to different theoretical perspectives in this field.

Intended Learning Outcomes

The key learning outcomes are follows. Students are expected:

  • To be able to discuss different meanings of key terms:poverty, deprivation and social exclusion
  • To understand differences in how these are measured
  • To identify and discuss key differences in the distribution of poverty,deprivation and social exclusion relating in particular to class, sex/gender, disability and ethnicity
  • To have a basic understanding of social security policy in Britain and developments over time
  • To be able to draw on different theoretical perspectives in discussion and critique of poverty, deprivation and social exclusion and of the role of social security

Teaching Information

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment Information

Assessment will be against the programme criteria defined for the appropriate level.

Formative assessment: One 2000- 2500 word essay

Summative assessment : Level H - 3 hour unseen exam

Reading and References

  • Millar, J. et al (2003) Understanding social security Policy Press
  • Spicker, P. (1993) Poverty and social security: concepts and principles Routledge
  • Becker, S. (1997) Responding to Poverty: The Politics of Cash and Care Longman
  • Spicker, P. (2003) Distinguishing disability and incapacity International Social Security review, Vol 56, No 2, pp31-43
  • Walker, R. & Wiseman,M. (2003) Making welfare work: UK activation policies under Labour International Social Security review Vol 56, No 1, pp3-30
  • Levitas, Ruth.: The inclusive society? :social exclusion and New Labour /Ruth Levitas. Basingstoke Macmillan, 1998