SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3L325075
Module Leader Stephen Sinclair
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Sociology
  • B (January start)
  • A (September start)
  • C (May start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Any combination of Level 1 & 2 Social Science modules (not including Psychology)

Summary of Content

Poverty and inequality are recognised global social concerns, and reducing them are central to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development ratified by the UN in 2015. Poverty and inequality are both causes and consequences of wider social problems, such as poor health, educational under attainment, environmental quality and unemployment. The module will examine competing ideas about poverty and inequality - including whether either are in fact social problems - and the various explanations and solutions proposed to address them offered by different social theorists, political ideologies and interest groups. Students will analyse the relationship between poverty and different forms of inequality, and examine the intersection between them and divisions of class, gender, ethnicity, geography and age. Students will examine some of the strategies used by governments, corporations and communities and third sector groups to tackle poverty and inequality in the UK and across the Developed and Developing worlds, and consider what the evidence suggests about the relative effectiveness of different approaches and policies. This module will assist students to develop the capacity to judge independently how various welfare policies reflect (or fail to reflect) such principles and considerations as social justice, cost effectiveness, citizenship rights and deservingness. The module will therefore provide students with the factual and theoretical foundation required to analyse contemporary social issues and welfare challenges.


Block A: Analysing Poverty and Inequality 1.1: Introduction: analysing social policies 1.2. Social transformation: current challenges and future developments Block B: The Meaning and Measurement of Poverty and Inequality -450 2.1. Definitions of 'poverty' and related concepts. How much poverty is there? Who lives in poverty? Transient, persistent and permanent poverty 2.2. What is equality? Widening divisions 3.1. Theories of and perspectives on poverty 3.2. Contemporary poverty: guest speaker from the Child Poverty Action Group Block C: Approaches to Addressing Poverty and Inequality -567 4.1. What are social problems and what shapes social policies? 4.2. Social policy and the state: a brief history -567 5.1. Comparative policy analysis: welfare regimes and families 5.2. 'Cultures of poverty', the 'underclass' and 'troubled families' 6.1. Employment in a globalised labour market 6.2. Poverty and participation: guest speaker from the Poverty Alliance -567 Block D: Dimensions and Forms of Inequality 7.1. Health inequalities: speaker from the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health 7.2. The geography of poverty and inequality 8.1. Education and social mobility -567 8.2. Gender and other social divisions 9.1. Poverty and disability: guest lecture from Inclusion Scotland -567 Block E: International Analyses and Responses 9.2. Environmental justice 10.1. Social Innovation and social enterprise 10.2. Tackling international poverty: guest speaker from Oxfam or Save the Children -567 Block F: Developing, Delivering and Implementing Social Policies 11.1. Policy implementation and delivery 11.2. Poverty, inequality and future policy options: guest lecture from Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 12.1. Multi-level government and social policy 12.2. Key themes and overview

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to: " analyse, compare and evaluate alternative theories of the causes of poverty and its relationship to different types of inequality" appreciate the social and individual consequences of poverty and inequality" critically appraise alternative approaches to the conceptualisation and measurement of poverty and inequality " apply social science concepts and perspectives to understand key factors involved in shaping the historical development and current nature of selected social policies" assess the arguments and evidence used in debates over social policy proposals and reforms addressing poverty and inequality" critically evaluate the appropriateness, effectiveness, efficiency and distributional impacts of selected social policies and interventions" understand the respective roles and powers of different national and international institutions in developing and delivering social policiesThe module also relates to several key elements of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME):" examining relationships and partnerships between private, public and third sector organisations " analysis of the social consequences of different employment and management practices and policy delivery mechanisms" equalities considerations relating to the PRME Working Group on Gender Equality" contributing to the activities of the PRME Working Group on Poverty: a Challenge to Management Education

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The Module is organised into thematic blocks addressing, respectively perspectives and policies on poverty and equality. Lectures will be interactive, involving reflective exercises, discussion of posed questions and stimulus material, interpretation and discussion of online (video and audio) resources, and 'flipped' sessions - where students present research and analysis findings. Guest speakers from a range of public and third sector organisations will deliver lectures on specialist subjects. Seminars will involve group work activities, enabling students to discuss and analyse in greater depth themes and issues raised in lectures, through independent study and other learning resources. Seminars will also support students to develop the research and analytical skills examined in the coursework assignments, e.g. by critical reviewing assigned reading and evaluating selected welfare reforms.

Indicative Reading

Additional reading will be recommended for particular lectures and seminars and further learning resources made available through GCU Learn. Books -513 Alcock, P, May, M. and Wright, S. (eds). (2016) The Student's Companion to Social Policy . (5 th edition). London: Wiley/ Blackwell. Castles, F. G, Leibfried, S, Lewis, J, Obinger, H. and Pierson, C. (eds). (2010) The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lister, R. (2010) Understanding Theories and Concepts in Social Policy . Bristol: Policy Press. M c Kendrick, J.H. et al . (eds) (2016) Poverty in Scotland, 2016. London/Glasgow: CPAG. Myers, G. (2016) Urban Environments in Africa . Bristol: Policy Press. Minujin, A. and Nandy, S. (2012) Global Child Poverty and Well-being: Measurement, Concepts, Policy and Action . Bristol: Policy Press. Sinclair, S. (2016) An Introduction to Social Policy Analysis: Illuminating Welfare . Bristol: Policy Press. Journals Global Social Policy International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy Journal of Poverty and Social Justice Journal of Social Policy Social Policy & Society

Transferrable Skills

Students following this module will develop the following transferable skills: -567 ability to present coherent, logical arguments using social sciences knowledge and analyses -567 understanding the processes of policy formation and implementation in the UK and international institutions -567 i ndependent judgement in evaluating evidence and arguments relating to alternative policy proposals and measures capacity to identify evidence requirements and design appropriate research activities -567 capacity to locate, evaluate and deploy relevant evidence and on-line resources effectively effective knowledge management effective written and oral communication The module will be particularly relevant to students interested in working in organisations delivering welfare policies in the public, private or voluntary sectors.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Assessment (FT) 44.00
Independent Learning (FT) 120.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Seminars (FT) 12.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 2 n/a 30.00 35% 2000 essay
Coursework 1 n/a 70.00 35% 3000 essay