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Unit information: Poverty, Social Exclusion and Social Policy in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Poverty, Social Exclusion and Social Policy
Unit code SPOL20019
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
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 an in-depth study of the definitions and measurements of poverty, deprivation and exclusion, whilst highlighting issues of age, gender, ethnicity, poverty amongst children and disability. We then consider the role of policy in providing social security. For instance, we explore income maintenance policies and the ways in which the objectives and outcomes of social security systems have changed in recent years. Is the social security system aimed at reducing inequalities between income groups and different household types, or is it used it to encourage particular behaviours?


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 I - 3 000 word essay

Reading and References

  • Alcock, P. (2006, 3rd Ed) Understanding Poverty, Hampshire: Palgrave
  • Gordon, D. & Spicker, P. (1998, 1st Ed.) (Eds.) Poverty: An International Glossary, London: Zed Books
  • Millar, J. (2009 (2nd Ed.) Understanding social security, Bristol Policy: Press
  • Lister, R. (2004) Poverty. London: Polity
  • Pantazis., C., D, Gordon., & R, Levitas (2006) (Eds.) Poverty and social exclusion in Britain: the millennium survey, Bristol: The Policy Press
  • Ridge, T. & Wright, S. (2008) Understanding Inequality, Poverty and Wealth, Bristol: The Policy Press
  • Spicker, P. (2007) The idea of poverty, Bristol: The Policy Press.
  • Spicker, P. (2011) How Social Security Works: an introduction to benefits in Britain, Bristol: The Policy Press
  • Walker, A. et al (2010) The Peter Townsend Reader, Bristol: The Policy Press
  • Walker, A., Sinfield, A. & Walker, C. (2011) Fighting poverty, inequality and injustice: a manifesto inspired by Peter Townsend, Bristol: the Policy Press