Skip to main content

Unit information: Collective Action and Policy Change in 2021/22

Unit name Collective Action and Policy Change
Unit code SPOL10040
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Mr. Francisco Palma Carvajal
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

The world today faces immense challenges. Climate emergency, global inequality, pandemics, racial oppression, migration and mobility crises and conflict are just some of the complex issues that individuals and countries are required to manage. The aim of this unit is to examine the roles and potential capacity of global, national and local social movements and civil society organisations in promoting policy change, evaluating their abilities and limitations in constructing meaningful policy solutions.

The unit will begin by understanding and assessing the changing role of social movements and civil society organisations in social policy. It will then move on to examine the diverse ways that collective action may engage with the policy process in order to inform social policy formulation and implementation. The unit draws on examples from a range of areas of activity (such as education, employment, social care), particular groups (such as migrants, women, and children), as well as a range of countries and time periods.

In doing this, the unit will help students to assess the boundaries and relationships between social movements and civil society, as well as with the state and the market, evaluating the policy consequences of their action.

Unit Aims:

  • Enable students to critically assess the importance and potential capacity of social movements and civil society organisations in promoting policy change across a range of pressing social crises.
  • Enable students to develop a historical and theoretical understanding of the relationship between social movements, civil society, and the policy process.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Identify a range of contemporary social problems around the globe and the some of the multiple social movements and civil society organisations working to tackle them.
  2. Understand the debates concerning to the role of social movements and civil society for social policy and how these have changed across place and time.
  3. Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of social movements and civil society action for promoting policy change.
  4. Work collaboratively with other students to investigate contemporary social movements and civil society organisations.

Teaching Information

This unit will draw on a blended learning approach. Teaching will involve a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions across the teaching block, including weekly lectures/narrated presentations, self-directed exercises and group activities. Weekly synchronous sessions will be scheduled to enable discussion, debate and the sharing of learning. Feedback will be provided for formal assessments, preparation for which will be supported through online activities, and in the weekly synchronous sessions.

Assessment Information

Part 1: Learning Journal (1000 words) (40%)

This assessment covers ILOs 2 and 3

Part 2: Reflexive writing (2000 words) (60%)

This assessment covers ILOs 1,3 and 4


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SPOL10040).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.