This unit focuses on the role of social policy in reshaping the everyday lives of ordinary citizens, social identities and the nation-state in these uncertain times. A key concern explored is the way in which neo-liberal conceptions of the social world have shifted the policy debates away from the 'public' citizen to that of the 'self-governing' private individual. Utilising insights from contemporary theories about how we are governed through a range of institutions, social networks and governmental strategies, the unit explores the 'invented' character of various policy debates from selected fields such as immigration, multiculturalism, education, health, employment, and emerging digital technologies. Through these case studies, attention is paid to the ways in which categories of persons become objects and objectives of government and why and how social identities become attached to specific social policy formulations. The unit provides an opportunity for students to develop and apply the skills of policy analysis and critique to current 'real world' policy issues.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Appraise contemporary debates about social policy and civic life;  
  2. Critically review the ways in which contemporary forms of governance are reshaping key social policy areas; and  
  3. Interrogate key social policy documents by placing these with broader social contexts.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Presentation Contextualize a selected policy within a broader policy field 25%
Literature Review Literature review critically reviewing policy documents and secondary material within a selected field of policy 30%
Essay Analyse social policy drawing on conceptual frameworks studied in the unit. 45%
Total effective word limit 3000 words

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