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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 economic, political and sociological 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
2. Economic perspectives (3 sessions); group work IV (1 session)
3. Political perspectives (3 sessions); group work I (1 session)
4. Sociological perspectives (3 sessions); group work III (1 session)
5. Comparative Analysis (2 sessions)
6. Overview (1 session)
7. Group presentations and discussions (3 sessions)
Order of sections 2-5 may vary according to staff availability.

Indicative course content:
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.
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.
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.
Comparative Analysis Key Themes -
Key themes: Objectives of comparative analysis; comparing a few countries. ; comparing many countries; logic of case comparison.
Analysing Social Policy -
A bloc of student-led group presentations and discussions, utilising different perspectives to explore three current issues in Social Policy. The three 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 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  42
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, three 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
Alcock P (2008) 'Economic Development', chapter 13 in Social Policy in Britain, 3rd ed., Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 197-217.

Barr N (2004/2012) The Economics of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bonoli, G. (2001) 'Political institutions, veto points and the process of welfare state adaptation', pp. 238-264 in Pierson, P. (ed.) The New Politics of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brooks, C., and Manza, J. (2006) 'Social policy responsiveness in developed democracies'. American Sociological Review 71: 474-494.

Clasen, J. (2012) Comparative Social Policy and the European Union, chapter 17 in J. Baldock, L. Mitton, N. Manning and S. Vickerstaff (eds) Social Policy, fourth edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fischer, C. et al. (2007) 'Inequality by Design', in: Ch. 3 in The Inequality Reader, D Grusky and S Szelenyi, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, pp. 18-22.

Flora, P (1986): Introduction, in P Flora (ed.): Growth to Limits: the West European Welfare States, vol II, Berlin: de Gruyter, xi-xxxvi.

Giddens, A. (2009) 'What is Sociology?', Chapter 1 in Sociology, 6th ed., Cambridge: Polity, pp. 3-31.

Giddens, A. (2009) 'Theories and Perspectives in Sociology', Chapter 3 in Sociology, 6th ed., Cambridge: Polity, pp. 72-103

Hacker, J. and Pierson, P. (2010) 'Winner takes all politics: public policy, political organization and the precipitous rise of top incomes in the United States', Politics and Society, 38(2), 154-204

Hay, (2008) 'Social Policy and Economic Policy', chapter 19 in P. Alcock, A., May, M. and Rowlingson, K. (eds.) The Student's Companion to Social Policy, Oxford: Blackwell (3rd edition) [Learn]

Immergut, E. (1990) 'Institutions, veto points and policy results: a comparative analysis of health care', Journal of Public Policy 10: 391-416.

Keane, J. (1984) 'Introduction', in Contradictions of the Welfare State, C. Offe and J. Keane (eds), London: Hutchinson Publishing Group, pp. 11-34.

Korpi W (1985) Economic growth and the welfare state: Leaky bucket or irrigation system? European Sociological Review, 1(2), pp. 97-118.

Korpi, W. and Palme, J. (1998) 'The Paradox of Redistribution and Strategies of Equality', American Sociological Review, 63(5): 661-687.

Larsen, C.A. (2008) 'The institutional logic of welfare attitudes: How welfare regimes influence public support', Comparative Political Studies 41(2): 145-168.

Le Grand J, Propper C and Smith S (2008) The Economics of Social Problems, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (ch 1) and ch 10.

Le Grand J (1997) 'Knights, Knaves or Pawns? Human Behaviour and Social Policy', Journal of Social Policy 26(2): 149-169.

Pierson, P. (2006) 'Public policies as institutions', pp. 114-134 in Galvin, D. et al (eds.) Rethinking Political Institutions: the Art of the State, New York: New York University Press.

Propper, C (2008) Efficiency, Equity and Choice, chapter 6 in P. Alcock, M May and K Rowlingson (eds.), The Student's Companion to Social Policy, 3rd ed., Wiley-Blackwell.

Schmidt, M. (2010) 'Political parties', chapter 14 in The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sykes, R. (2012) Economic Policy and Social Policy, chapter 22 in P. Alcock, A., May, M. and S. Wright (eds.) The Student's Companion to Social Policy, Oxford: Blackwell (4th edition) (electronically available via the library catalogue)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 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,
- learning to work 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 Ethan Alexander
Tel: (0131) 6 509 975
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