Work, Welfare and the Politics of Reform PUBPOL3016

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 3 (SCQF level 9)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores the interconnected spheres of paid employment, unpaid labour, care and welfare in order to understand the politics of contested UK reforms in international and comparative perspective.


One Hour Weekly lecture

One Hour Weekly tutorial

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements

Entry to Honours Social & Public Policy requires a grade point average of 12 (grade C3) over Social & Public Policy 2A and 2B (formerly Public Policy 2A and 2B) as a first attempt.


Direct entry to Social and Public Policy Honours may also be allowed for students who achieve an average (mean) grade B or higher across the Social and Public Policy 1A and Social and Public Policy 1B courses (formerly Public Policy 1A and 1B).

Excluded Courses





One book review of 1000 words, weighted at 15%;

One policy briefing paper of 2000 words, weighted at 25%; and

One two-hour unseen exam, weighted at 60%.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ explore contemporary theoretical understandings of work (paid and unpaid), care and welfare;

■ understand the politicised policy-making processes of welfare reform in the UK;

■ understand UK welfare reform from a range of ideological perspectives; and

■ compare cross-nationally the contested processes of welfare reform in the UK with selected country cases.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ question taken-for-granted assumptions about the meanings and significance that paid and unpaid work hold for people living in capitalist societies;

■ identify and explain different patterns of engagement in paid employment and unpaid work in the UK, in relation to social divisions such as gender and disability;

■ describe the causes and consequences of these patterns and their connections with entitlements for a selection of welfare benefits and services;

■ relate these patterns of work and welfare to wider economic, social and political systems;

■ understand the contested nature of welfare reform in different country contexts;

■ understand the relevance and competing theories and perspectives in explaining these issues;

■ evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of UK approaches to work and welfare reform in relation to examples of other 'types' of welfare state; and

■ develop an understanding of work, welfare and the politics of reform.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.