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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Policy

Undergraduate Course: Analytical Perspectives in Social Policy (SCPL10024)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAnalytical Perspectives in Social Policy will play on key strengths within the Social Policy subject group to introduce students to a range of perspectives and linking these to examples of policy across a range of sectors. The course will provide students with an orientation towards other optional Social Policy programmes and will serve as a central feature of the joint degree programmes in Social Policy.
Analytical Perspectives in Social Policy has the central aim of consolidating students' earlier learning by locating the subject of social policy at the intersection of three different analytical perspectives, identifying benefits and limitations of each, and showing how they can work together to provide rigorous analyses.
Course description 1. Introduction (1 session; themes and structure of the course; allocation of 4 groups and themes)
2. Political perspectives (3 sessions); group work I (1 session)
3. Historical perspectives (3 sessions); group work II (1 session)
4. Sociological perspectives (3 sessions); group work III (1 session)
5. Economic perspectives (3 sessions); group work IV (1 session)
6. Overview (1 session)
7. Group presentations and discussions (2 sessions)
Order of sections 2-5 may vary according to staff availability.

Indicative course content:
Political Perspectives:
Key themes; social policy and democracy; the social policy preferences of individuals and groups; the role of interests and ideas; the mediation of individual and group policy preferences by the political and policy process; the role of differing systems of electoral competition and interest-intermediation; policy networks and communities as determinants of policy content; policy implementation level as a political problem.
Historical Perspectives
Key themes: I. Historical formations of institutions and social categories central to modern welfare states (examples: industrialisation and the formation of capitalist market economies; nation-state formation; the formation of labour movements and other collective interests; the invention of modern childhood); II. Analysing social policy over time (examples: temporality and historical sequencing; path dependency; types of policy change)
Sociological Perspectives:
Key themes: including modernity and late modernity; manifest and latent functions; deviance, 'pacification' and social control. These will be employed in relation to social policy analyses of the family, the labour market, work and welfare, and crime and dis/order. The bloc finishes by considering how to use sociology alongside other analytical perspectives.
Economic Perspectives:
Key themes: markets and the role of government; risks and insurance; labour markets and work incentives; taxation and the allocation of scarce resources; individual choice and collective allocation of benefits and services; equity and efficiency; privatization; consumptive and productive functions of social policy.
Analysing Social Policy -
A bloc of student-led group presentations and discussions, utilising different perspectives to explore four current issues in Social Policy. The four groups will present their findings to the course-group as a whole and the lecturers.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Social Policy or closely related courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  36
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 16, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 6, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course is assessed by means of two 2000 word essays (each 40% of the overall grade) plus group work in the form of presentation, power point slides and a joint discussion paper (20%).
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. have a strong understanding of, and ability to apply, four key analytical perspectives on social policy
  2. independently analyse social policy across a number of sectors
  3. develope their skills in developing and supporting a line of argument, presenting information visually and orally
  4. develope their skills in working effectively as part of a team
  5. have a strong foundation of knowledge, understanding and skills that can be utilised in other honours level courses
Reading List
Indicative course reading

Bailey, R. (1973) The Family and the Social Management of Intolerable Dilemmas. In R. Bailey and J. Young (eds.) Contemporary Social Problems in Britain, pp. 73-84. Farnborough/Lexington MASS.: Saxon/Lexington.
Barr N. (2004) The Economics of the Welfare State (4th edition), Oxford: OUP. P. Bourdieu et al. (1999) The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society (tr. P. Ferguson et al). Stanford, CA. Stanford University Press.
Baldwin, P. (1990) The Politics of Social Solidarity: Class bases of the European welfare state 1875-1975, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, introduction and conclusion.
Boeri, T., Borsch-Supan, A. and Tabellini, G. (2001) 'Would you like to shrink the welfare state? A survey of what Europeans want', Economic Policy, vol. 16(32), pp. 7-50.
Bourdieu, P. et al. (1999) The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society (tr. P. Ferguson et al). Stanford, CA. Stanford University Press.
Castles, F.G. (1989) The Comparative History of Public Policy, Cambridge. CUP.
Durkheim, E. (1938) Rules of Sociological Method (tr. S.A. Solovay and J.H. Mueller). Glencoe, ILL.: Free Press. Chapters 3, pp. 47-75, and 5, pp. 89-124.
Garland, D. (2001) The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Especially chapter 4, onwards.
Glennerster H (2003) Understanding the finance of welfare, Bristol: The Policy Press.
Gough, I. (2000) Global capital, human needs and social policy, (Palgrave); chapter on: 'Social welfare and competitiveness'.
Hay, C. (2008) Social Policy and Economic Policy, in P. Alcock, M. May and K. Rowlingson (eds) The Student's Companion to Social Policy, (3rd edition), Oxford: Blackwell.
Hill, M. (2009) The Public Policy Process (5th Edition) Pearson Longman
Hennock, E.P. (2007) The Origin of the Welfare State in England and Germany, 1850-1914, Cambridge: CUP.
Hudson, J. and Lowe, S. (2009) Understanding the Policy Process (2nd Edition), Bristol: The Policy Press.
Immergut, E. (1992) Health Politics: Interests and Institutions in Western Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Iversen. T. and Soskice, D. (2006) 'Electoral institutions and the politics of coalitions: why some democracies redistribute more than others', American Political Science Review, 100(2), pp. 165-181.
Korpi, W (1983) The Democratic Class Struggle, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Le Grand J, Propper C and Smith S (2008) The Economics of Social Problems, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mahoney, J. and Rueschemeyer, D. (2004) Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences, Cambridge: CUP.
Merton, R.K. (1936) The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action. In American Sociological Review 1(6), pp. 894-904.
Pierson, P. (ed.) (2001) The New Politics of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pierson, P (2004) Politics in Time. History, Institutions, and Social Analysis. Princeton and Oxford.
Polanyi, K (1957) The Great Transformation. The Poltiical and Economic Origins of our Time, Beacon Hill/Boston: Boston Press.
Skocpol, T. (1992) Protecting Soldiers and Mothers. The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Smithies, R. (2005) Public and private welfare activity in the United Kingdom, 1979-1999, London School of Economics, CASE (
Tonkiss, F. (2001) Markets Against States: Neo-liberalism. In K. Nash and A. Scott (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Political Sociology, pp. 250-260. Oxford: Blackwell.
Ware, A. (1996) Political Parties and Party Systems, Oxford: Oxford University Press, chapters 1,2 and 12

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students should have strengthened their skills in:
- independently analysing policy issues across a number of sectors;
- analysing evidence and using this to develop and support a line of argument,
- presenting information visually and orally,
- searching for and summarising available literature, and writing an extended essay,
- working effectively as part of a team;
- the understanding and skills that can be utilised in other honours level courses;
- making an informed choice about the perspective(s) which will be utilised in their final year dissertation project.
Additional Class Delivery Information Classes will be held on Wednesdays and Fridays between 12.00 and 1.00pm

Wednesday classes will be lectures and the Friday classes will alternate weekly between lectures and tutorials.
Keywordspolitical perspectives (e.g. social policy and: democracy,interests and ideas,electoral competion)
Course organiserDr Jochen Clasen
Tel: (0131 6)50 9922
Course secretaryMr John Riddell
Tel: (0131 6)50 9975
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