Accessibility statement

Power, Policy and Social Progress - SPY00026C

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kelly Devenney
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Government policies shape social and economic outcomes in fundamental ways, making them central to social ‘progress’. But policies are shaped by competing interests and unequal power relations. This module introduces key debates that can help us understand what policy is, how it is shaped and who has the power to create social ‘progress’ . It considers how, in the context of unequal power relations and persistent social divisions, groups and individuals might seek to influence policy change in order to contribute to social progress.

Module Aims:

  • To explore the concepts of policy, power and ‘progress’ and to introduce key concepts that explore how policy change is influenced

  • To consider how unequal power relations impact social policy and social ‘progress’

  • To consider policy responses to ‘social divisions’ (eg. race, gender, sexuality, disability) and how dynamics of social control and resistance have influenced ‘progress’

  • To consider how groups and individuals might seek to influence policy change in order to contribute to social progress and introduce tools for policy advocacy that can help make evidence based arguments for change

Module learning outcomes

  • Have an appreciation of relevant concepts which can assist in the analysis of policy problems;

  • Understand key conceptions of power and how power relates to policy decisions;

  • Appreciate how unequal power relations underpin ‘social divisions’ and understand the role of resistance, activism and advocacy in social ‘progress’

  • Use appropriate models and frameworks to make suggestions for policy reform that can account for unequal power relations while also contributing to social progress

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay 1500 words
N/A 50
Group presentation
N/A 50

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be given in accordance with the University Policy on feedback in the Guide to Assessment as well as in line with the School policy.

Indicative reading

  • Weible, C and Cairney, P (2021) Practical Lessons from Policy Theories. Bristol: The Policy Press.

  • Ryan, P (2022) Facts, Values and the Policy World. Bristol: The Policy Press.

  • Crowley, K and Stewart, J (2020) Reconsidering Policy: Complexity, Governance and the State. Bristol: The Policy Press.

  • Alemanno, A (2017) Lobbying for Change: find your voice to create a better society. London: Icon Books.

  • Lausten et al (2017) Social Theory: A textbook

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.