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Housing & Social Justice - SPY00110M

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Nicholas Pleace
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

The Housing and Social Justice (HSJ) module explores the role of housing policy and housing markets in relation to broader social policy. By studying HSJ, students will understand the key arguments surrounding the role of housing as a fundamentally important element in delivering effective interventions to address inequalities in opportunity, health and quality of life.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

The goal of the module is to enable students to have a clear understanding of evidence, theory and debate around Housing and Social Justice, and to think critically about the strength of the evidence base, current theory, policy interventions and the quality of debates about Housing and Social Justice within academia and in public life. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • understand the extent and limits of the evidence base related to Housing and Social Justice;
  • think critically about the role of housing in relation to other variables in the generation, management and reduction of social injustice;
  • think critically about current theoretical interpretations;
  • show an understanding of the challenges that can be faced by academic and policy research when exploring Housing and Social Justice;
  • show they are able to assess the quality of public debate in relation to Housing and Social Justice in relation to the evidence base;
  • have knowledge of strengths and limits of the policy interventions and service models that may reduce inequalities which are linked to inadequate housing and homelessness.

The Housing and Social Justice module is designed to present students with real-world policy challenges and the realities of what can be a complex, but at the same time limited, evidence base. Alongside delivering a thorough grounding in the nature of the relationships between housing and social justice, the Housing and Social Justice module also engages students with critical analysis of social and housing policy.

Module learning outcomes

Students studying Housing and Social Justice will be provided with:

  • an understanding of what is meant by adequate housing, within a wider human rights framework;
  • a grounding in the relationships between housing and social justice;
  • step-by-step guides to the different dimensions of Housing and Social Justice, with dedicated units focusing on each area;
  • an introduction to critical analysis of research evidence and the theoretical interpretations of that evidence, within the field of Housing and Social Justice;
  • an understanding of Housing and Social Justice that will enable systematic assessment of policy designed to counteract the social problems associated with poor housing, area effects and homelessness.
  • development of critical reflection based on real-world examples and policy challenges from researching Housing and Social Justice.

Module content

The Housing and Social Justice module is designed develop an understanding of what is meant by adequate housing within the wider framework of human rights and how an absence of adequate housing may negatively influence social justice in a society. The Housing and Social Justice module focuses on how life chances, health and social integration may be undermined by inadequate housing. Following the introduction to these concepts, each successive unit is designed to give students a thorough grounding in the policy issues in Housing and Social Justice. The module encourages critical thinking throughout and the final two units are focused on interpretation and analysis of the material covered by earlier sessions. The module is structured as follows:

  • introducing the human right to housing and what is meant by adequate housing;
  • exploring the different dimensions of housing and social justice:
    • housing and life chances,
    • affordability,
    • social housing,
    • homelessness,
    • migration and housing,
    • gender and housing,
    • health and housing.
  • critical reflection on Housing and Social Justice, with a unit on images, cultures and pathologies of Housing and Social Justice and a concluding unit reviewing and reflecting on the Housing and Social Justice module.

In addition to reading the online authored material, students will:

  • undertake private study of the required reading
  • participate in individual and group activities
  • access and evaluate a variety of material
  • participate in online group discussion sessions with other students and their tutor


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

The lead marker (the module tutor) will include comments about the content, structure, and evidence used etc. to provide you with constructive information that will enable you to improve on future work. The feedback a tutor can offer can be invaluable to your studies, so it is important you read this carefully

We aim to return your marked work to you within one month of its submission.

Feedback will be given in three ways:

(1) Comments within the actual text will highlight specific points and examples that the marker wants to draw to your attention.

(2) The marking criteria will be highlighted to show how your assignment has been rated against those criteria. This will enable you to calibrate your performance against a consistent scale, and therefore to aim to improve in specific areas.

(3) Finally the marker will provide a narrative summary in which the main points will be set out and any major areas for improvement highlighted.

Indicative reading

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has supported and conducted extensive research on housing, the relationships between poverty, housing and social justice and large body of work on homelessness. All their reports and summaries of reports are available at

The National Housing Federation (NHF) also undertakes research and reviews on housing and social justice.

The European Observatory on Homelessness conducts research on homelessness in Europe and is home to the European Journal of Homelessness.

The social geographer Danny Dorling writes extensively on the relationships between housing and social justice. Freely accessible material can be found online at:

Key journals focusing on housing and social justice include:

  • Urban Studies
  • Environment and Planning A
  • Housing Studies
  • The International Journal of Housing Policy
  • Housing, Theory and Society
  • Housing Policy Debate
  • British Medical Journal
  • Journal of the American Medical Association
  • European Journal of Homelessness
  • Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless
  • Antipode

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.