- Academic Registry
Programme & Unit Catalogues

SP30281: Social policy dissertation

[Page last updated: 04 August 2021]

Academic Year: 2021/2
Owning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Credits: 18 [equivalent to 36 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 360
Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Academic Year
Assessment Summary: CW 10%, DS 90%
Assessment Detail:
  • Synopsis 10% (CW 10%)
  • Dissertation 90% (DS 90%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Aims: The aims of the unit are:
a) To develop the student's knowledge and understanding of social policy, as set out in the learning outcomes listed below
b) To develop the general critical and analytical powers of the student
c) To develop research skills, with particular reference to those skills relating to investigation and analysis
Students will design and carry out either a fieldwork based piece of research or a library-based piece of research on a social policy topic of their choosing. The dissertation will be carried out under supervision. Further details are provided in the Dissertation Handbook

Learning Outcomes: By the end of the unit the students should be able to:
* conceptualise and design a 10,000 word piece of research on a social policy topic of the students' choosing
* conduct a thorough literature review in the area of research chosen
* display critical and broad knowledge of research on the chosen topic
* identify clear research aims for their dissertation
* produce and apply an appropriate research design;
* analyse, synthesise and evaluate sources used in the research;
* structure the material into a clear and coherent argument that addresses the aims of the research produce a professional dissertation in the appropriate academic style, systematically organised, well laid out and fully and accurately referenced.

Skills: Intellectual skills: Students will develop their knowledge and understanding of:
* the fundamental concepts of social policy relevant to the student becoming an effective practitioner;
* theories of welfare state development;
* the main sources of data about social welfare and a critical approach to their use;
* how to apply knowledge and concepts from across various social sciences disciplines;
* the main sources of data about social issues and a critical approach to their use;
* issues of human needs and social welfare - poverty, inequality, exclusion, diversity and differences;
* key concepts, theories and developments in at least two of sociology, social policy, politics, economics, psychology;
* methodological principles and research design;
Transferable/Key skills:
* To develop critical and analytical powers in general;
* To develop research skills with particular reference to those skills relating to investigation and analysis;
* To think creatively and analytically;
* To communicate an argument;
* To evaluate others' arguments and research;
* To critically evaluate and assess research and evidence as well as a variety of other information;
* To gather information, data, research and literature from a number of different sources (i.e. library, web-based, archives etc.);
* To select appropriate and relevant information from a wide source and large body of knowledge;
* To synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding;
* To utilise problem solving skills;
* To reflect upon new technology and innovation within social sciences and to make decisions regarding legitimacy, reliability and effectiveness;
* Study & Learning skills (note taking, avoiding plagiarism, using the library, gathering and using information, constructing a bibliography, referencing);
* Basic Information and Computing Technology skills (word processing, email, using the web to search for information);
* Inter-personal and communication skills;
* Essay research, preparation and writing skills;
* To construct a bibliography of varying complexity.

Content: Students will choose a specific research topic and design a research project. Students will undertake either a library-based piece of research or fieldwork research on their chosen topic. Students will write up their research project in the form a 10,000 word dissertation.

Programme availability:

SP30281 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences
  • UHSP-AFB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy (Year 3)
  • UHSP-AKB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHSP-AFB05 : BSc(Hons) Social Sciences (Year 3)
  • UHSP-AKB05 : BSc(Hons) Social Sciences with Year long work placement (Year 4)
  • UHSP-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Sociology and Social Policy (Year 3)
  • UHSP-AKB10 : BSc(Hons) Sociology and Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 4)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2021/22 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2022/23 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2021/22.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.