Department of Social Policy

Department of Social Policy

Social Policy Honours Handbook










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Comments or queries regarding this handbook should be addressed to the Social Policy Honours Convener, Neil Fraser, (tel 650 3916, email .


Social Policy can be studied as a joint degree with Economics, Geography, Law, Modern European Languages, Politics, Social Anthropology, Social and Economic History and Sociology. It can also be studied as a “with” degree: with Social and Political Studies. To be admitted to honours in social policy, you must gain a mark of 50% or more in all of the following courses:

  • European Social Policy 2 [SP0002]
  • Social and Political Enquiry 2 [SP0079]
  • Social and Political Theory 2 [SP0080]

at first sitting and have passed all other elements of the 1st and 2nd year curriculum by the end of your second year. For more details see the School Handbook for first and second year students. Students registered for degrees based in the School have the right to progress to Honours if they meet these requirements; for other students, progression is at the discretion of the responsible Head(s) of Subject. If you do not meet the requirements but wish to study social policy at honours level, you should apply to Mr Richard Parry, Head of Social Policy.

If your request is turned down, you may appeal against the decision. In this case, you should write formally to the Director of Undergraduate Teaching in SSPS (Dr Jonathan Hearn) stating:

  • the grounds of your appeal – describe any medical or other circumstances which may have affected your performance
  • the marks received for all your first and second year courses
  • the marks received for your essays in those courses in which you failed to meet requirements
  • the name of your Director of Studies

Written appeals should be submitted as soon as possible, by 14th September 2007 at the latest. Appeals will not normally be considered after that date.

New Director of Studies/Student Support Officer roles

There have been some changes to the Director of Studies (DoS) role, beginning in 2007-2008, that you should know about. The DoS continues to provide directees with guidance on such fundamental academic and pastoral matters as course choices, degree combinations, approving study abroad plans, what to do when you have complex personal/health problems, and student appeals when there are special circumstances affecting your studies. But some of the more routine administrative duties they have performed in the past will now be carried out by the staff working in the Undergraduate Teaching Office (AFB room 206), in their new roles as Student Support Officers. For all undergraduates in SSPS, the staff in the Undergraduate Teaching Office will:

  • Deal with routine queries in the first instance, concerning, e.g., the structure of the curriculum, regulations and procedures, study abroad applications, etc.
  • Provide standard letters for students, e.g. references for banks or landlords
  • Refer you to appropriate Student Support Services

If you have fairly routine queries or issues of a non-personal nature, please go to them in the first instance. If the matter is something they cannot deal with, they will refer you to your DoS.

Another change is that the number of DoSs is being increased, so some students will find that their DoS has changed, as directees are redistributed among a larger number of DoSs. You should check on MyEd to make sure who your current DoS is.

Disabled students

The School welcomes students with disabilities (including those with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia) and is working to make all its courses accessible.If you have special needs which may require adjustments to be made to ensure access to such settings as lectures, tutorials or exams, you should discuss these with your Director of Studies who will advise on the appropriate procedures.

You can also contact the Disability Office, 6-8 South College Street, (telephone 650 6828) and an Advisor will be happy to meet with you.The Advisor can discuss possible adjustments and specific examination arrangements with you, assist you with an application for Disabled Students' Allowance, give you information about available technology and personal assistance such as note takers, proof readers or dyslexia tutors, and prepare a Learning Profile for your School which outlines recommended adjustments.You will be expected to provide the Disability Office with evidence of disability - either a letter from your GP or specialist, or evidence of specific learning difficulty.For dyslexia or dyspraxia this evidence must be a recent Chartered Educational Psychologist's assessment.If you do not have this, the Disability Office can put you in touch with an independent Educational Psychologist.

Organisation of your studies during the honours years

The main differences between the first and second years and the honours years are as follows:

  • You do not normally take any outside subjects in your honours years and so can have a more concentrated and integrated programme of study.
  • The style of teaching and learning is much more informal and participatory. Rather than lectures there are seminars, which you are expected to contribute to and sometimes to lead. You will have more chance to develop your skills at oral presentation, using the relaxed environment of the seminars to improve your effectiveness at explaining your arguments and to develop your transferable skills. Oral presentations are usually not assessed, but they should be well prepared, using handouts and visual aids as appropriate. Course teachers will advise you and provide feedback on them.
  • In your final year, you will undertake a project on a subject of your choice for in-depth work that is of particular interest to you. This offers considerable scope to follow your own interests and to work closely with a member of the teaching staff.
  • You will increasingly find yourself thinking about life after University, about whether you wish to go into employment, undertake a postgraduate course or take some time out before pursuing these alternatives. The Careers Service is a very useful resource for this.


Mr Neil Fraser / Honours and Undergraduate Convener in Social Policy − responsible for all aspects of honours programme
Director of Studies 1st year / Room 212, AFB

Mrs Louise Angus / Honours Secretary / Room 201, AFB

Mr Richard Parry / Head of Social Policy − needs to approve exceptional admission to honours and some curricular choices
Director of Studies 3rd year / Room 223, AFB

Professor Michael Adler / Postgraduate Convener / Room 2.07, 8 Buccleuch Place

Dr Andy Aitchison / Convener, MSc Public Policy / Room 213,
Professor Frank Castles / Room 3.2, 7 Buccleuch Place

Professor Jochen Clasen / Postgraduate Convener
Director of Studies 4th Year / Room 224, AFB

Mr Paul Crompton /
Dr Ingela Naumann / Convener, MSc Comparative Public Policy / Room 225, AFB

Ms Elaine Samuel / Room 3.21 18 Buccleuch Place

Professor Adrian Sinfield / Emeritus Professor of Social Policy / 3rd fl, 21 Buccleuch Place

Dr Alison Smith / Co-convener, MSc Social Research / Room 213A, AFB

Dr Kay Tisdall / Convener, MSc in Childhood Studies / Room 229, AFB

Dr Daniel Clegg / Director of Studies, 2nd year / Room 3.04, 21 Buccleuch Place

Professor Fran Wasoff / Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships / Room 214, AFB

There is a list of times on the door of the offices occupied by members of staff indicating when their offices hours are. If you want to see them at other times, you can contact them by e-mail. Important information may be sent to your university e-mail address and you should consult this regularly. If you use another e-mail address, it is your responsibility to make sure that mail from your university e-mail address is forwarded to it. We will assume that if we send an email to your university e-mail address that you have received it.

The Social Policy web pages can be found at


The Social Policy Subject Group seeks to promote these aims in the honours programme:

  • to present a broad perspective on social policy, an area of public policy that embraces the distribution of resources; social and economic changes and their implications for society; their impact on social divisions, social justice, social exclusion and social integration;
  • to promote an appreciation of multi-disciplinary approaches to the study of social policy, which draw on various disciplines, in particular, sociology, politics, law and economics;
  • to introduce students to a variety of theoretical perspectives, which fosteran ability to appraise and understand different points of view;
  • to encourage students to think about social policy comparatively;
  • to integrate up-to-date research with teaching;
  • to encourage the acquisition of transferable skills, including active learning skills, computing skills, skills in time/project management, and skills to contribute to public debate about social issues;
  • to provide opportunities for students to acquire practical experience of social policy;
  • to provide learning opportunities for mature and non-graduating students;
  • to foster an informal, inclusive and tolerant learning environment.

All honours courses have their own, course-specific aims and objectives, which are set out in the individual course handouts that are prepared by the course teachers. These are compatible with subject area objectives and teaching aims and reflect the learning objectives that are inherent in the subject matter. Courses have general teaching aims which are incorporated in course evaluation forms: they include having clear specific aims, being informed by research studies, reflecting a variety of perspectives, drawing on a range of disciplines, being focused, comprehensive and well resourced, and stimulating interest in the subject. Course handouts should be informative, the course environment should be conducive to learning, and there should be sufficient variety in teaching methods. You can let us know through course feedback questionnaires and through the staff-student committee, which meets every term, how well we have met these aims.

Honours work leaves you much freer to plan your own work than you were able to do the first two years. There are, however, certain things you must do. These are listed below with reference to the appropriate parts of this Handbook. Some are linked with the accurate maintenance of a record of courses taken and work handed in, which is maintained by Louise Angus, the Honours Secretary.

  1. Pre register for courses this year with Margaret Brown
  1. You must attend and participate in classes regularly and let the course teachers know in advance if, because of illness or other personal circumstances, you are unable to attend. If you do not attend regularly, you may be deemed not to have taken the course.
  1. You must hand in your essays and your dissertation by the dates specified.


The Joint Honours curriculum comprises honours courses in Social Policy and another honours subject, together with a project leading to a dissertation. Some of the courses are compulsory and others are options. All the Social Policy courses last for one semester only and most of them are taught in alternate years.

Compulsory courses are normally taken in the third (junior honours) year. All honours students take the Welfare, Justice and the State course in semester 2, but the choice of methods courses varies according to the degree taken. Please note that the choice of methods course(s) may depend on whether you wish to undertake a dissertation in Social Policy or in your other honours subject. Most honours students take one Social Policy option in their third (junior honours) year, and a further Social Policy option in each semester of their fourth (senior honours) year. In addition, they undertake a dissertation. Details of the various joint honours curricula are set out in Section 10 below and students are encouraged to consult the curriculum for the degree they are registered for.

Honours degrees are based on 240 credits taken over the two years. The dissertation and, in some curricula, full-year courses are weighted at 40 credits, while one-semester courses are weighted at 20 credits. Assessment of the compulsory course in Welfare Justice and the State and of most Social Policy courses taught by members of the Social Policy Subject group is based on a mixture of a 3,000-word essay and a 2-hour unseen examination. In the case of Children’s Rights, for consistency of assessment with School of Education students taking the course, there will be a 4000 word essay and no examinations.

Assessment in the two methods courses (Methods of Social Research A and Methods of Social Research B) is by means of two coursework assignments and a take-home examination. Assessment in other courses conforms to the requirements of the relevant subject area and students should make sure that they are aware of what the assessment arrangements are.

The courses that are currently available are listed below. For a brief description of each of the courses that will be offered in 2007-2008, you should consult the document ‘Pre-Registration of Honours Courses for SSPS Students’ (also available at

You are asked to indicate in the summer which courses you wish to take in the following year so that administrative staff can pre-register your course choices on-line. This involves first checking the rules for your degree programme in Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study (DRPS): see section 10 of this Handbook and and then looking at the brief description of courses (see above). You can also consult your Director of Studies by e-mail or in person.

At the beginning of the year you will need to visit your Director of Studies who will confirm your presence and see that you are fully registered for your courses. If there are gaps in your registration you need to visit the Graduate School Microlab in AFB 1st floor (in Freshers Week) or the Undergraduate Teaching Office (in week 1 and later). If you think you (or the office) have made a mistake with your course registration you should select another course, if possible by the end of the first week of the semester.

Honours Courses

Compulsory courses are taught every year. Most optional courses taught by staff in the Social Policy Subject Group are offered every second year (but there are exceptions) and meet for two hours per week (with a short break) in Room 122, AdamFergusonBuilding.

The following courses (with names of conveners) will be offered in 2007-2008

  • Children’s Rights (SP0088) Kay Tisdall
  • Health Policy Analysis and Globalisation and Public Health Jeff Collin
  • Law and Social Policy (SP0022) Mike Adler, Elaine Samuel
  • Methods in Social Research A (U02099) Angus Bancroft
  • Methods in Social Research B (U02103) Donald Mackenzie
  • Political Economy of the Welfare State (U03687) Jochen Clasen, Daniel Clegg
  • Politics of British Public Services (U03702) Richard Parry, Andrew Thompson
  • Social Security (SP0012) Adrian Sinfield
  • Welfare, Justice and the State (U00192) Neil Fraser
  • Youth and Modernity, c.1780-1970, U03337 (40 credits) Louise Jackson
  • Youth and Modernity, c.1780-1880 (20 credits) (U03343)
  • Youth and Modernity, c.1880-1970 (20 credits) (U03349)

Semester 1 / Semester 2
Methods in Social Research A / Welfare, Justice and the State
Globalisation and Public Health and Health Policy Analysis / Methods in Social Research B
Law and Social Policy / Children’s Rights
Political Economy of the Welfare State / Social Security
Politics of British Public Services
Youth and Modernity / Youth and Modernity

The following courses are expected to run in 2008-9. However there may be additions to and subtractions from this list.

  • Children’s Rights (SP0088)
  • Comparative Issues in Housing Policy (U03402)
  • Contemporary Feminist Thought (PO0080)
  • Criminal Justice: Policy and Practice (SP0009)
  • Employment Policies (SP0018)
  • Health Policy Analysis and Globalisation and Public Health
  • Methods in Social Research A (U02099)
  • Methods of Social Research B (U02103)
  • Rethinking Families and Family Policies in Europe (U03469)
  • The Social Division of Welfare (SP0013)
  • The Treasury and Public Policy (SP0089)
  • Welfare, Justice and the State (U00192)
  • Youth and Modernity, c.1780-1970, U03337 (40 credits)
  • Youth and Modernity, c.1780-1880 (20 credits) (U03343)
  • Youth and Modernity, c.1880-1970 (20 credits) (U03349)

The timetable for 2007-2008 is set out below. Note that some clashes between options in different honours subjects are inevitable in joint degrees.

AM / 11.10-13.00
Youth and Modernity / 11.10-13.00
Political Economy of the Welfare State / 11.10 – 12.00
Health Policy Analysis and Globalisation and Public Health Seminar
12.10 – 13.00 Health (as above)
Lecture / 11.10-13.00
Law and Social Policy
PM / 14.00-14.50
Methods of Social Research A
16.10 – 18.00
Politics of British Public Services / 14.00-15.50
Methods of Social Research A / 15.00-16.30
Social Policy Seminar
AM / 11.10-13.00
Youth and Modernity
Welfare, Justice and the State / 11.10 – 13.00 Social Security / 12.10-13.00
Welfare, Justice and the State
PM / 14.00-14.50
Methods of Social Research B / 15.00-16.50
Children’s Rights / 14.00-14.50/15.00-15.50
Methods of Social Research B / 15.00-16.30
Social Policy Seminar

Social policy seminars

Social Policy seminars take place throughout the academic year at 15.00 on Friday afternoons. They are designed for honours students, postgraduate students and staff with an interest in social policy and provide an opportunity to hear about the latest research and thinking, which is being carried out by experts in the field. Most of the speakers are from outside the university but, from time to time, members of staff also present seminars based on their research. The format allows for discussion and enables students to meet the speaker and members of staff in an informal environment. These seminars are part of the normal timetable for honours students and you are strongly encouraged to attend on a regular basis.