SO/HL/CB/PS 395 - Comparative Social Policy: A Community-Based Learning Perspective and Practicum

This course examines a number of key issues, debates and policy responses to social issues affecting the UK today, but viewed within in an international, comparative context. The course consists of lectures, course-related trips, and a community-based learning placement in London, followed by lectures and visits.

The course provides an overview of the main challenges and policy responses in British society today, along with a discussion of the political and historical forces, which have shaped them. A comparative element is introduced; as we explore how these needs and responses differ from case-study examples selected from other European nations, the US, and a developing nation.

Reducing poverty and inequality is one of the central aims of the welfare state. The course considers how we define and measure living standards, and thereby decide what is an acceptable threshold, with a focus on the challenges of making international comparisons and agreeing measures across nations. The needs of the UK population are broad, and with this in mind, themes including gender, age and disability are examined in turn, and placed within an international context. Ethnicity is pulled out as a particularly important concept in this course; the UK is a notably diverse nation with a historical background quite distinct from the US, using Jamaica as a case study, this will provide the stimulus for an in-depth exploration of the experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic groups in contemporary Britain, and beyond.

Experiential learning is a central component to this course – students will undertake a community-based learning placement (1 day per week) in a social/health policy-related organization in London.

Due to the nature of the course, this syllabus is subject to frequent minor updates to reflect policy changes and recent events.

Notes: This course includes a community placement to fulfil the community-based learning requirement.

Course Information


Health Studies
Community-Based Learning

Term(s) Offered:




Language of instruction:


Contact Hours:

45; 60 placement hours



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