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Introduction to Social Policy

Module Code: SSU11020 (Old Code SS1766)


Module Name: Introduction to Social Policy

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Semester/ Term Taught: Michaelmas Term and Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: 2 x 1 hour lecture per week and one tutorial per week
  • Module Personnel: Dr.Ayeshah Emon and Dr Catherine Conlon

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this section of the module students will be able to:

  • Identify key principles and constructs influencing contemporary social policy in (post) welfare state contexts.
  • Evaluate the architecture framing social policy and how local policy instruments and principles derive from international and supra-national frameworks as well as local frameworks and conditions.
  • Assess with the help of basic conceptual tools, the premises and outcomes of social policy instruments.
  • Recognise how social policy frames and responds to a range of contemporary social issues.

Module Overview and Content

The Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Policy in the Michaelmas Term is a foundational course introducing students to the field of social policy, its origins, historical trajectory, connection with and presence in key aspects of our daily lives, as well as the way socio-political ideologies inform our values, beliefs and decisions about social life and social justice. Through an analysis of major theories and empirical developments in welfare state and social policy, we will address relevant contemporary issues such as aging societies, globalisation, immigration, citizenship, healthcare, social justice, individual vs. state responsibility and so on. While the course focuses on Irish models of social policy, comparative international perspectives will also be discussed. This module will equip students for deeper exploration of specific policy issues and debates as they progress in their study of social policy. 
Introduction to Key Issues in Social Policy in the Hilary term looks at social policy in action.  It considers how social policy is devised and implemented, asking how do issues come onto the agenda? Who are key policy actors? How do principles and ideologies encountered in the first semester feature in policy responses? What are the key national and supra-national institutions framing policy, and how is policy reviewed and evaluated?  Students gain an insight into models for analysing the policy making process.  They are introduced to a range of current social policy issues and instruments in place within the Irish, EU or international context addressing these issues to which they can apply this analytical model. 
This module will equip students for deeper exploration of specific policy issues and debates as they progress in their study of social policy.

Recommended Reading List

  • Alcock, P., May, M. and Wright, S. (2012) The Students Companion to Social Policy. Chichester: Wiley.
  • Considine, M., Dukelow, F. (2017) Irish Social Policy: A Critical Introduction, 2nd Edition.  Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Dean, H. (2012) Social Policy (2nd Edition).  Cambridge: Polity.
  • Dwyer, P., and Shaw, S. (2014) An Introduction to Social Policy. London: Sage.
  • Kennedy, P. (2013) Key Themes in Social Policy. London: Routledge.
  • Blakemore, K., and Warwick-Booth, L. (2013) Social Policy: An Introduction. Fourth Ed. New York: McGraw Hill.


Assessment Details

In Michaelmas Term: Group Project worth 20% of overall module mark and individual assessment worth 30% of overall module mark

In Hilary Term: Essay worth 40% of overall module mark and Tutorial presentation is worth 10% of overall module mark

A penalty of 10% will be applied to students who submit essays late without an authorised extension.