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

Undergraduate Course: Politics of the Welfare State (SCPL08005)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course looks at the politics of the welfare state in the UK in the light of the dramatic economic events since 2008, including from an international perspective, and in the context of Brexit and the current Covid-19 crisis. The role of ideology, public opinion, political actors, interest groups and the media will be considered in understanding the directions that the British welfare state took in recent years. Specific social policy areas (e.g. education, housing, benefits and the labour market, public services) will be discussed in detail and current reforms will be scrutinised.
Course description The course analyses the ideological and political factors which have shaped the development of the British welfare state in the past and are shaping it in the present. Pivotal is the context of the financial and economic crisis that unfolded in 2008 and the Covid-19 crisis since 2020, which have important repercussions on social policy making. Students will be introduced to key welfare benefits and services, how they are delivered, funded and who benefits from them. The role of public opinion, key political actors, the media and their interplay are critically analysed. While the focus is on the British welfare state, an international and comparative perspective is taken with regards to the role of welfare ideologies, key institutional features, the impact of economic crises and other common contemporary challenges to the welfare state in Europe.
Together with the courses Social Policy and Society, European Social Policy and/or Evidence, Politics and Policy this course will form a coherent introduction to Social Policy, but it can also be taken as a topical outside subject on a stand-alone basis.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 165 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Tutorial participation = 10%
1 essay of 2000 words = 30%
Take-Home Paper = 60%
Feedback Students will receive individual feedback prior to writing their final timed assignment, namely comments on the 2000-word essay they submit.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. analyse the ideological and political factors which have shaped the development of the welfare state in the past and are shaping it in the present.
  2. to understand how the welfare state works, how it is delivered, how it is paid for and who benefits from it.
  3. identify the current political debate and developments in different social policy areas.
  4. understand the politics of the British welfare state from an international perspective.
Reading List
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Plus tutorials.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Elke Heins
Tel: (0131 6)50 4049
Course secretaryMr Brodie Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)51 3139
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