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Module SXP-2050:
Social Issues

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Teresa Crew

Overall aims and purpose

Social policy is everywhere - from TV's love affair with 'benefits cheats', to when you see someone selling the Big Issue or the latest gaffe by an MP. In its broadest sense, social policy aims to improve the well-being of society. This module focuses on how and why certain social issues become identified as ‘social problems’. We will unpack classic ‘social problems’ such as homelessness, domestic abuse, sexual harassment and NEETs, identifying the way in which social policy responds to these problems. We will then consider if there are other methods of addressing these social problems.

This is an interactive module that is enhanced with student participation.

Students will develop three key employability skills:

  • Problem solving - The ability to understand a problem by identifying the key issues, implications and identifying solutions.
  • Communication - explain your point of view in a clear and concise way and to listen and relate to other people's opinions
  • Valuing diversity - understanding and being considerate of the experiences of different individuals.

There will be weekly case studies in relation to Social Class, Gender, Disability, Ethnicity, Transgender, Age and Sexual orientation. The overall aim of the module is that students will be able to critically discuss some of the barriers people with these characteristics have historically, and in many cases, continue to face.

Course content

The workshop format will use local and contemporary social problems Subjects may include, but are not limited to:

  • Basic income - a way to tackle class and income inequalities
  • Gypsy Travellers: the last ‘acceptable’ form of Racism
  • Helping young people who are not in education, employment or training
  • Combatting sexual harassment
  • Creating inclusive work places for Transgender employees;
  • Tackling hate crimes

Assessment Criteria


Has a critical understanding of how concepts such as equality, diversity, stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination relate to social policy.

Can critically analyse relevant research

Able to propose clear and practical suggestions for how the 'social problems' discussed in the module can be tackled.


Understand concepts such as equality, diversity, stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination in relation to social policy.

Can communicate effectively about relevant research.

Able to propose suggestions for how the 'social problems' discussed in the module can be tackled.


Shows a basic awareness of definitions of concepts such as equality, diversity in relation to social policy.

Provides a basic description of the literature in this field.

Does not propose suggestions for how the 'social problems' discussed in the module can be tackled, or provides suggestions that are not relevant to the case study.

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand concepts such as inequalities, equality, diversity, stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination in relation to social policy

  2. Become familiar with social inequalities relating to education, health, housing, employment, education policy as well as crime and criminal justice.

  3. Be able to discuss a variety of 'social problems' either through group or individual work - whether it be written or oral communication.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
CASE STUDY Social policy case study

You will be ‘given’ a budget of £10 million to ‘buy’ services in a specific area. Your assignment is to choose from a catalogue of services and describe why you are spending the money in this manner.

*Students will practice this in a group before the individual assignment

ESSAY 2,500 word essay

2,500 word essay in relation to various Social Problems


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Two hour workshops x 12

Private study

Students will be expected to read up before or after each workshop so that they can contribute in discussion.


One hour drop in session x 12


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Develop a sound appreciation of the variety of theories that comprise the discipline of social policy and how these impact on social policy interventions
  • Become cognizant with key conceptual debates within the field of contemporary social policy
  • Appreciate the value of and apply theoretical and methodological rigour to analyses of welfare issues;
  • Be aware of the ethical, social and political contexts within which social policy practice and research is conducted and delivered
  • Develop a knowledge and expertise with respect to a range of evidence-based policy making and practice.
  • Develop a sophisticated understanding of the processes of social policy analysis and evaluation.


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: