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The University of Southampton

SOCI3091 Social Policy Problems and Solutions

Module Overview

This project allows you to engage creatively with Social Policy as an applied subject area Your task is to construct a policy proposal for an organisation of your choice, making the most convincing case for it that you can. You must explore the policy problem and detail the policy proposal to solve it. You should choose and research a particular area of social policy in which you are interested, select a particular policy problem in the field, explore the policy options that have been suggested, or might be suggested, and choose one policy option that merits recommendation to the minister/decision maker. Your briefing should: • Outline the problem that the policy proposal seeks to address • Discuss the specific features of the various policy options available • Defend the choice of one policy option, or a combination of policy options, over others • Examine aspects of the policy design • Discuss the expected attitudes of interest groups and relevant political actors and how obstacles to implementation might be overcome • Analyse issues related to the evaluation of the policy measure

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aims of this module are: - To provide an opportunity under academic guidance for you to develop on the basis of independent study policy proposal relating to problem identified within the area of Social Policy - To develop skills in information management, analysis, critical discussion and report presentation in relation to the chosen project.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of appropriate sources of information on your policy area ie the empirical policy materials and documents, as well as the academic literature
  • Demonstrate competence in Identifying and carrying out procedures for overcoming routine research problems
  • Demonstrate recognition of the importance of deadlines, and the need to respond appropriately
  • Demonstrate coherent understanding of the policy problem and the various policy proposals for dealing with it
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the implications of your policy proposal and its relationship to the wider policy debates
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the key political actors who operate within the chosen policy area, and their likely reactions to the proposed policy option
  • Demonstrate an ability to make a compelling case in support of one particular policy option(s) over others
  • Demonstrate an ability to assemble a diverse range of primary and secondary information into a coherent report
  • Demonstrate competence in Identifying and executing specific practical measures to maintain your project
  • Demonstrate the ability to manage the competing demands associated with small-scale project commitments
  • Demonstrate an ability to sustain motivation throughout your inquiries


This double module gives you the opportunity to develop a policy proposal in response to your identification of a policy problem. You will undertake this task on the basis of in-depth independent, guided study. Once you have submitted your project ideas (at the end of Year 2) you will be allocated a supervisor. This is a highly empirical piece of work, and you must demonstrate your engagement with primary sources and documents: think tank reports, political party reports, government policy papers, parliamentary/legislative reports. It is up to you to locate and research the empirical material of relevance to your chosen policy problem. You should also engage with the academic literature surrounding the policy area. The finished report should include the following: Part One: Description of policy problem and the range of policy options available to solve it, or that have been applied thus far. Part Two: Selection of one policy option/combination of options and analysis of policy design Part Three: Examination of attitudes of relevant political actors, likely obstacles to implementation and evaluation/measurement issues.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: Independent study. A project supervisor will be assigned to you at the end of Year 2 and provide you with feedback on your project proposal at the beginning of the summer vacation to help you to develop an action plan for your project and to give advice. Learning activities include: Your project supervisor will then meet with you on four further advice occasions throughout the year of the project. In addition, four project workshops are held across the academic year where you can get further advice about the different stages of the process.

Independent Study288
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Considine, M. (2004). Making Public Policy: Institutions, Actors, Strategies. 

Hill, M. & M. Hupe (2002). Implementing Public Policy. 

Hill, M. (1993). The Policy Process: A Reader. 

Howlett, M. & M. Ramesh (2003). Studying Public Policy: Policy Cycles and Policy Subsystems. 

Hill, M. (2009). The Public Policy Process. 

Hudson, J. & S. Lowe (2004). Understanding the Policy Process. 

Anderson, J.E. (1994). Public Policy Making. 

Burch, M. & B. Wood (1994). Public Policy in Britain. 

Becker, S. & A. Bryman (2004). Understanding Research for Social Policy and Practice. 


Assessment Strategy

100% Policy proposal (10000 words) (and must be passed). Referral method: Re-submission of amended proposal (and must be passed).


MethodPercentage contribution
Policy/ Programme evaluation proposal  (10000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Policy/ Programme evaluation proposal  (10000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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