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Unit information: Poverty, Inequality and Social Inclusion Research in 2015/16

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Unit name Poverty, Inequality and Social Inclusion Research
Unit code SPOLD2024
Credit points 20
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Fahmy
Open unit status Open




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


Tackling poverty and social exclusion is currently a core aim of both domestic and international policy. Fundamental to policy development are questions of how best to define and measure poverty and social exclusion: without dealing adequately with these questions we have little idea of the size of the problem or the effectiveness of proposed solutions. This unit explores the range of issues relevant to researching in this policy field, including: debates regarding the definition of poverty and social exclusion, approaches to measuring poverty, deprivation and social exclusion, sources of data, the cross-sectional and longitudinal impacts of deprivation, the links between research and policy making. Many of the theoretical and methodological themes are approached through discussion of illustrative policy areas, such as health, housing, labour markets and area-based regeneration.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completion of this unit student should be able to:

  • Identify key issues in the definition and measurement of poverty and social exclusion and their implications for research practice and policy development
  • Critically evaluate different theoretical perspectives on the nature, causes and effects of poverty and social exclusion
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which vulnerability to poverty and exclusion varies across the life course and for different population groups
  • Outline the international analysis of poverty and exclusion in the context of global (under) development and human rights
  • Assess the implications of existing research evidence for the development of effective policies to tackle poverty and social exclusion at local, national and supranational levels

Teaching details

Lectures and class exercises.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment:

Will be by means of student presentations delivered as part of the teaching program. Students will be asked to work in small groups in addressing a key issue in the theory and measurement of poverty and social exclusion, including potential implications for policy and practice. Students will be asked to work independently over the course of the unit and will be expected to make a brief presentation (15mins) of their findings, and to have an opportunity to receive feedback on this during the presentations session.

Summative assessment:

Will be by means of a written assignment of not more than 4,000 words. Participants will be asked to apply the knowledge and skills they have developed during the course of the unit to the investigation of poverty within the UK or internationally.

Reading and References

  1. Bradshaw, J. & Sainsbury, R. (2000) Researching Poverty. Ashgate: Aldershot. [HC110.P6 EXP]
  2. Byrne, D. (2005) Social Exclusion. Maidenhead: Open University Press. [HV238 BYR]
  3. Gordon, D., Pantazis, C. & Levitas, R. (Eds.) (2006) Poverty and Social Exclusion in Britain: The Millennium Survey. Bristol: The Policy Press. [HC260.P6 POV]
  4. Gordon, D. & Townsend, P. (2000) Breadline Europe: The measurement of poverty. Bristol : Policy Press. [HV238 BRE]
  5. Hills, J., LeGrand, J. & Piachaud, D. (Eds.) (2002) Understanding Social Exclusion. Oxford University Press. [HV248 UND]
  6. Lister, R. (2004) Poverty. Cambridge: Polity Press. [HV4028 LIS]
  7. Townsend, P. & Gordon, D. (Eds.) (2002) World Poverty: New policies to defeat an old enemy. Bristol: Policy Press. [HV4028 WOR]
  8. Stiglitz J (2012) The Price of Inequality: The Avoidable Causes and Invisible Costs of Inequality. Allen Kane.
  9. United Nations (2010) Combating Poverty and Inequality: Structural Change, Social Policy and Politics. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
  10. Wilkinson R, Pickett K (2010) The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone. London: Penguin Books. [HM821 WIL]