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Unit information: Social Policy Past and Present in 2020/21

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Unit name Social Policy Past and Present
Unit code SPOL10034
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lart
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

The unit will provide students with an introduction to the history of British social policy from the Poor Law, through the establishment of the post-war Welfare State, to the end of the Coalition government of 2010-15. It will focus on key areas of social policy such as poverty and social exclusion, health, housing, education and social care. The first part of the unit provides an overview of the evolution of the British Welfare State, following the historical narrative from the debates around pauperism in the early nineteenth century, through to the end of the Coalition government of 2010 – 15. The second section returns to look in detail at the key areas of social policy, and will explore significant points in their histories, and set the scene for understanding current policy.

Specifically, it will introduce students to:

1. The history of British social policy

2. How and why we have the social institutions of welfare that we do.

3. The ways in which ideology has informed the development British social policy

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to demonstrate:

  • An understanding of the history of British social policy from the beginning of the 19th century, including the origins and development of UK welfare institutions, and the social and demographic contexts in which they have operated
  • An understanding of non-governmental sources of welfare in that period, and of the relationship between different sectors of the mixed economy of welfare
  • The ability to distinguish and critically evaluate different approaches to understanding social problems and issues in that period, and how these are reflected in policy

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through blended learning by a combination of asynchronous and synchronous sessions. Asynchronous delivery will include narrated powerpoints providing an overview and framework for the topics delivered each week, and strctured exercises to be undertaken either individually or in pairs or groups. Synchronous teaching will be in a seminar format with a mixture of presentation by students from prepared work, and discussion.

Assessment Information

Essay 1000 words (25%) Essay 2000 words (75%)

Reading and References

  • Daunton, M (2007) Wealth and Welfare: an economic and social history of Britain 1851-1951 Oxford University Press
  • Fraser, D (2009) The Evolution of the British Welfare State Palgrave Macmillan
  • Harris, B (2004) The Origins of the British Welfare State 1800 – 1945 Palgrave Macmillan
  • Thane, P (1996) The Foundations of the Welfare State Longman
  • Glennerster, H (2007) British Social Policy:1945 to the present Oxford : Blackwell
  • Lowe, R. (2005) The Welfare State in Britain since 1945. Macmillan