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Unit information: Poverty, Social Exclusion and Social Policy in 2021/22

Unit name Poverty, Social Exclusion and Social Policy
Unit code SPOL20019
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Harkness
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit focuses on the problems of poverty and social exclusion. While the emphasis throughout the unit is on the experience of Britain, relevant comparisons are made with other industrialized countries in order to understand how institutions, welfare, and social policies affect poverty and social exclusion.

We begin with introductory lectures on the meaning and measurement of poverty and social exclusion, before exploring theories that attempt to explain why poverty persists. We then examine differences in how a range of demographic groups experience poverty and social exclusion (including children, young people, women, and older people). For each of these groups, we assess the role of institutions in driving poverty and the relationship between poverty and wider outcomes. The final part of the course examines policy responses, and in particular the role of the welfare state, in alleviating poverty.

The unit aims to introduce students to conceptual, theoretical and methodological debates concerning the manifestation and experience of poverty and social exclusion in Britain. A secondary aim is to explore and assess government policy (particularly with respect to the social security) in responding to these
pressing issues of social concern

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Distinguish between different concepts of poverty and social exclusion, and how they are used to identify those at risk of being poor. Demonstrate an understanding of how these concepts relate to different theoretical and political perspectives for why poverty and social exclusion persists.

2. Show an appreciation of how the experience and impact of poverty and social exclusion affect wider social outcome, and of how the experience of poverty and social exclusion varies across different socio-demographic groups.

3. Be able to confidently discuss the different ways in which how theories are applied to defend or critique different forms of state intervention. Have an understanding of how poverty alleviation policies, and in particular social security policy, have changed over time.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through blended learning involving a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including weekly lectures, practical activities supported by study-group sessions, and self-directed exercises. Narrated power point presentations will cover more conceptual and theoretical aspects of the unit, whilst case-examples and other applied learning will take the form of self-paced, material delivered electronically, and undertaken individually or supported by pair and group work, and involving elements of tutor feedback and peer-assessment. Feedback will be provided for formal assessments, preparation for which will be supported through online activities and study group sessions.

Assessment Information

Part 1: Annotated Bibliography (1000 words) (25%)

This will assess ILOs 1 &2

Part 2: Essay (2000 words) (75%)

This will assess ILOs 2 &3


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. SPOL20019).

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.