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Critical Approaches to Social Policy (POLS90052)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 6.25Not available in 2019

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Year of offerNot available in 2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePOLS90052
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This PhD elective will introduce critical approaches to the construction and analysis of social policy with particular focus on the developing world, but with relevance to the developed world. The dominant, linear approach to policy as a sequence of ‘design, planning, implementation, and evaluation’ will be critiqued for its failure to recognise the socio-cultural contexts, values and ideologies within which policies are embedded. We will explore the worldviews and assumptions of policy makers, the discursive construction of policy ‘subjects’ through policy labels and language, policy technologies of enumerating, categorising and describing populations and the ways in which gender, race, ethnicity and religion contribute to the success or failure of policies. Case studies using ethnographic and interpretive approaches will be used to throw light on the nature of policy-making and programmes in key social issues: for example, the meanings, measurement and experience of poverty; the construction of ‘indigenous’ peoples and of the ‘household’; the role of ‘local knowledge’ in health policies.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should have:

  • enhanced knowledge of key terms and concepts used in the analysis of policy in the developing world;
  • an ability to analyse assumptions, norms, ideologies and values that frame policies within particular historical and cultural contexts;
  • advanced capacity to critically assess policies in the developing world;
  • enhanced engagement with leading-edge research in policy research; and
  • an ability to reflect upon their own research work in relation to the content of the module.

Generic skills

This subject will contribute, through teaching and discussion with academic staff and peers, to developing skills and capacities including those identified in the University-defined Graduate Attributes for the PhD, in particular:

  • the capacity to contextualise research within an international corpus of specialist knowledge;
  • an advanced ability to engage in critical reflection, synthesis and evaluation of research-based and scholarly literature; and
  • an advanced understanding of key disciplinary and multi-disciplinary norms and perspectives relevant to the field.

Last updated: 3 April 2019