SPOL28180 Social Policy & the Lifecourse

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module will help you explore social policy through the lens of the life course perspective. The life course perspective recognizes that all stages of a person’s life are intertwined with one another. It recognizes that a person's life is connected to the lives of others born in the same period and with the lives of different generations of their families. The life course perspective directs attention to the historical and socio-economic contexts within which people’s lives unfold. Institutional structuring of lives is at the core of the life course perspective, highlighting the significance of social policies in shaping people’s lives.

In this module, we will examine the life course perspective as a concept and theoretical orientation and critically review the underpinning principles. We will examine how the life course perspective has been used to inform social policy formulation and consider how it can be used as a framework to examine and critique social policies, within the context of social change and the emergence of new social risks.

We will critically examine a broad range of questions at the heart of social policy debates and the life course perspective. Some of these questions are as follows. Do investments in children lead to benefits later in life and do they lead to societal benefits? How can social policy be used to smooth incomes across the life course? What role does social policy and the welfare state play as individuals undergo critical life transitions such as housing transitions for young adults moving out of the family home? What are the long-term consequences of informal caregiving for employment? Do advantages or disadvantages accumulate over the life course? What are the influences of the gendered life course on poverty in later life? What is the intergenerational contract and should we be more concerned with intergenerational solidarity or intergenerational conflict? When reflecting on these and other questions, we will explore the implications for social policy.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should:
- understand the life course perspective as a concept, its theoretical orientation and core principles;
- be able to apply the life course perspective to the analysis of a range of social policy issues and questions;
- have a critical appreciation of social policy issues and concerns that are elucidated through the application of the life course perspective and how it can open up new policy options;
- be acquainted with policy-relevant research informed by the life course perspective and methodological approaches used in studying social policy from the life course perspective.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Interactive lecture with brief in-class activities; critical writing 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Not applicable to this module.

Learning Exclusions:

Not applicable to this module.

Learning Recommendations:

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: The assignment will be a short exercise worth 40% of the mark. Students will asked to write 350 words [excluding references +/- 10%] on a core concept related to the life course perspective. Week 8 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: This end of trimester essay is worth 60% of the total mark. Students will be given a selection of questions and asked to answer one question [2,000 words in total excluding references +/- 10] Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Assignment (Mid-trimester 350 word assignment worth 40% of the total mark): Feedback individually to students, post assessment; class feedback, post-assessment. Essay (End of trimester 2,000 word essay worth 60% of the total mark): Online automated feedback.