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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Social and Political Science

Undergraduate Course: Understanding Social Policy (LLLJ07001)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course is not available to University of Edinburgh matriculated students. This is a for-credit course offered by the Centre for Open Learning (COL); only students registered with COL should be enrolled.

Social policies impinge on many aspects of our lives. This course aims to show how contemporary social policy issues are constructed and contested. We will consider current theoretical debates on needs, rights, and responsibilities and will examine different policies and perspectives on areas including poverty, child abuse, criminal justice and unemployment.
Course description Content of course
1. Introduction: Needs, rights and responsibilities
This session introduces the main themes of the course; how major debates about welfare and society are constructed, and contested, around concerns with needs, rights, and responsibilities
2. Needs (1): Introducing Needs
This class will look at how the concept of 'need' is used in debates about social policy. It will explain why 'need' is such a contested concept and examine some of the different ways in which it is invoked.
3. Needs (2): Recognising and Assessing Needs
An examination of poverty and an analysis of the introduction of child benefit and family allowances
4. Needs (3): Needs and Unemploment
This class takes a look at unemployment and its social construction
5. Rights (1): Introducing Rights
Do moral, rights, social rights and human rights exist? This session will explore key definitional distinctions and typologies of rights, including: moral versus legal rights; social, political and civil rights; and the theoretical basis for human rights.
6. Rights (2): Can children have Rights?
In this class students will be asked to consider whether or not children can have rights. The UNCRC will be our main tool for learning.
7. Rights (3): The right to participate and to work
This week examines work, compulsion and benefits.
8. Responsibilities (1): Introducing Responsibilities
This session will discuss the recent attention to ┐responsibilities┐, as alternatives or counterweights to claims based on needs and rights. It will consider the relationship of responsibilities to needs and rights
9. Responsibilities (2): Communities
This session will analyse and examine contentious issues such as child curfew and ASBOs.
10. Responsibilities (3): Parenthood
This week concentrates on divorce, teenage motherhood and child support.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Lifelong Learning - Session 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Centre for Open Learning 10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Think critically about some of the main social issues and problems facing societies
  2. Acquire some of the skills that are integral to studying social policy, such as understanding and assessing arguments and evaluating evidence
  3. Demonstrate awareness of the social values and institutions that shape our lives, and of the choices which we have to confront as socially aware members of society
Reading List
Essential Readings
Alcock, P., May, M. and Rowlingson, K., eds., 2008. The Student┐s Companion to Social Policy. 3rd ed. Oxford: Blackwell.

Alcock, P., 2003. Social Policy in Britain: Themes and Issues. 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Blakemore, K. and Griggs, E., 2007. Social Policy: An introduction. 3rd ed. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Hill, M. and Irving, Z., 2009. Understanding Social Policy. 8th ed. Oxford: Blackwell.
Lister, R., 2010. Understanding Theories and Concepts in Social Policy. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Web sources,9143,442876,00.html

Many journals are available online if accessed from the University of Edinburgh. The Main Library's list of online journals is at:
In particular, the Journal of Social Policy is available from 1997 free online if it is accessed from the University of Edinburgh; just follow the links from the library website. The Journal carries articles on all aspects of social policy in an international context. For more information check:
Other journals which focus on social policy issues can be found in hard copy at per.36 and include:
Critical Social Policy (online)
Social Policy & Administration (online)
Social Policy & Society (online)
Social Policy Review
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr James Mooney
Tel: (0131 6)50 3077
Course secretaryMr Benjamin Mcnab
Tel: (0131 6)51 4832
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