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The University of Southampton

SOCI1003 Social Problems and Social Policy

Module Overview

The module introduces students to the ways in which "social problems" come to be defined within societies and the factors shaping social policy responses to such problems.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

You are introduced to general theoretical approaches to the understanding of social problems, and to the analysis of a selected group of issues commonly defined as problems within contemporary societies – e.g. youth unemployment, poverty, race, ethnicity and migration, and environmental (in)justice

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify the main approaches which have been used to analyse social problems and demonstrate how these may be applied in the analysis of the issues discussed in the course
  • Identify the different ways in which the key social problems discussed in the course have been defined and explained
  • Outline the policy measures which have been developed in response to the selected social problems
  • Evaluate the validity of different interpretations of the causes of specific social problems, and the appropriateness of particular policy responses to these problems, drawing upon relevant theoretical perspectives and empirical evidence


This module focuses on how and why certain social issues become identified as ‘social problems’. We will unpack classic ‘social problems’ such as poverty, youth unemployment, national identity and migration and environmental (in)justice – and identify the processes that have made them problematic (for example, the role of the media, the attitudes of the public, the plight of the people affected by them) and the policy responses that have emerged in relation to them. By the end of the module you will have a greater understanding of the politics of social problem identification in the UK and other countries and the foundations of an understanding of the way in which social policy responds to these problems.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

There will be a total of 12 lectures and 7 taught tutorials. In addition there will be three peer-led sessions.

Independent Study132
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Attendance 10%
Essay  (1500 words) 70%
Multiple choice Test 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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