Accessibility statement

Economy and Society - SPY00028C

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Chris Holden
  • 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

This module focuses on the economy as a social institution and considers the location of social and public policy between economics and politics. It will introduce students to economic concepts that are relevant to the analysis of social and public policy. It will explore how economic issues and policies usually have social implications, while social and public policies usually have economic implications. The approaches of different schools of economic thought to economic and social questions will be considered, with a focus on political economy analysis. The module will explore the nature of capitalism and markets, considering when markets work, when they fail, and their implications for inequality, social justice and wellbeing. It will analyse the role of social and public policies in regulating markets and responding to unequal and socially unjust outcomes, including questions of labour market regulation; environmental harm and sustainability; economic growth and wellbeing; the role of work and care in the economy; economic crises and their social consequences; inequality, taxation and redistribution; and the relationship between global economic processes and national policy-making.


  • To introduce and explain key economic concepts and processes that are of relevance to social and public policy

  • To introduce the idea of political economy and how it can be used to understand the economy and social and public policy processes and outcomes

  • To explore the interrelatedness of economic and social policies and issues, and the implications of economic processes for social outcomes

  • To introduce key debates concerning economic policies as they relate to questions of inequality, social justice and wellbeing

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module you will be able to:

  • understand key economic concepts, especially as they relate to social and public policy

  • apply a political economy lens to social and economic issues and policies

  • understand the impacts of key economic processes and policies on inequality, social justice and wellbeing

  • understand and contribute to debates about social and public policies and their relationships to economic issues

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
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

  • Chang, H.J. (2014) Economics: The User’s Guide, London: Pelican.

  • Heilbroner, R. (2000) The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers, London: Penguin.

  • Le Grand, J, Propper, C and Smith, S. (2008) The Economics of Social Problems, fourth edition, London: Palgrave-MacMillan.

  • Barr, B. (2012) Economics of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Varoufakis, Y. (1998) Foundations of Economics: A Beginner’s Companion, London: Routledge.

  • Reardon, J., Madi, M.A. and Scott Cato, M. (2018) Introducing a New Economics: Pluralist, Sustainable & Progressive, London: Pluto Press.

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.