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Social Evils in the Chocolate City - SPY00029C

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Daniel Horsfall
  • 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 2 2024-25

Module aims

The city of York is often referred to as a Chocolate City, as the most important confectioners of the last century – Rowntree’s, Fry’s and Terry’s - were founded in York. For decades, Rowntree was one of the largest confectionery employers in the city, pioneering international standards in efficient production combined with a responsible business model. The company contributed significantly to the social, cultural and civic development of the City of York, and wider improvements in employment rights and industrial relations. Rowntree established several Foundations aimed at tackling inequality, challenging power structures and delivering higher standards of living. These positive contributions co-existed however, with Rowntree’s own role in perpetuating slavery and the presence of other social ‘evils’ including poverty, economic distress and the wider social harms of industrialisation. These problems have evolved and persist in contemporary York as increases in homelessness, food bank use, inequality and social disadvantage have accompanied commercial changes in the city’s industrial character. This module examines these changes, exploring how social issues such as those highlighted by Rowntree and then by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation some 100 years later, are researched and how such research can affect change. In so doing, the module also introduces and embeds the core academic skills that are central to the social sciences.


  • To explore the notion of social evils and its contemporary forms

  • To equip students with the investigative and analytical tools necessary to interrogate the range of research conducted in relation to social evils within and beyond York

  • To develop core writing, analytical and presentational skills and increase student knowledge/awareness of how social research can highlight social problems and inform policy making

  • To introduce students to the basic principles of social research and underpinnings of different approaches to research

  • To ensure students are aware of the ethical considerations of social research

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Present data and other forms of evidence relating to an historic or modern social issue. Evaluate competing perspectives on the identification, conceptualisation and resolution of social problems

  2. Demonstrate understanding of ways in which companies such as Rowntree can bring benefits but also impose harms on their employees, local communities, nations and internationally

  3. Demonstrate the acquisition of key academic skills, including: locating and deploying academic sources; synthesising and summarising the ideas of others; evaluating competing perspectives and presenting written work in accordance with academic conventions

  4. Demonstrate competence in the identification of a research topic, the execution of its exploration, the use of evidence and the presentation of findings


Task Length % of module mark
Assessed video, presentation or poster
N/A 30
Critical summaries (portfolio)
N/A 70

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Assessed video or presentation
N/A 30
N/A 70

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

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring 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 by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.