Housing, Inequality and Society URBAN5087

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The housing system is a key shaper of inequalities in western societies, while at the same time housing policy is often seen as key force that can drive more equal societies. This course considers who experiences housing inequality and what impacts it has on people's lives, progressing to an enquiry of how the housing system can be reformed to achieve fairer outcomes.


This course runs in Semester 2, delivered in 3 hourly blocks, once per week, over 9 consecutive weeks...

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements


Excluded Courses

Housing, Inequality and Society (URBAN5095)





The course will be assessed by an essay of maximum 4,000 words.

Course Aims

This course aims to provide an understanding of the links between social and economic inequality and housing, and to assess the value of housing policy and practice in combating inequality. In particular it will:


■ examine recent societal change in relation to housing including economic, social, demographic, and intergenerational change, including international trends;

■ provide an introduction to key concepts in inequality, including poverty, deprivation, disadvantage, social inclusion and social exclusion, 'fairness' and wellbeing and how they relate to changing ideas of needs and aspirations;

■ consider the usefulness and limitations of these key concepts as applied to housing policy and housing disadvantage in different contexts;

■ evaluate how social and economic forces contribute to inequality in a housing context, in particular relating to international migration and settlement; ethnicity and 'race'; religion; disability, gender and sexualities, and social class, including housing consumption and tenure divisions;

■ explore the spatial dimensions of housing inequality including uneven economic development and employment; spatial structures and urban socio-spatial divisions; urban neighbourhoods; and gentrification and displacement.

■ assess the interface between health and wellbeing, and housing;

■ examine historical evidence about policy responses to housing inequality from c.1945-2000;

■ assess the role of current and recent housing policy and practice, and the wider housing system, in creating or alleviating inequality in modern states, in particular to examine the changing role of social housing and housing related benefits, and the interface between other key elements of social welfare and the housing sector;

■ evaluate housing responses to the needs of key 'equalities groups';

■ assess the role of housing policy and practice in shaping communities, including regeneration; in particular to critically evaluate the theory and practice of 'mixed communities' as a route to social inclusion; and

■ provide an assessment of the future for housing both in creating and shaping inequalities and the prospects in reducing their impact.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ explain how inequality is theorised and understood;

■ identify key demographic, social, economic and political changes in advanced countries that impact on housing-related inequality;

■ summarise the key dimensions of inequality as they relate to housing, including the experiences of different 'equalities' groups within society and the role of housing consumption;

■ explain the development and persistence of socio-spatial divisions in cities and the role of housing;

■ analyse how housing inequality has been perceived historically and demonstrate how perceptions have shaped policy responses;

■ critically evaluate the role of the modern housing systems and housing policy in both creating and exacerbating inequality;

■ identify and explain the success and limitations of housing policy and practice as a means of combating inequality relating to social groups and space;

■ construct alternative housing models and policy and practice approaches;

■ differentiate the role of housing in relation to inequality in different kinds of welfare regimes; and

■ assess and evaluate housing inequality as it relates to Scotland, the UK and other developed nations.

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.

Taught courses on the Housing Studies Programme (MSc and PGDip) require attendance.