Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Contemporary Topics in Poverty and Social Exclusion: A Critical Approach

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Social Policy and Social Work

DESCRIPTION Through the study-unit SWP5120, students are expected to have achieved an understanding of the definitions, causes and impacts of poverty and social exclusion as well as the ways through which poverty is measured and addressed by governments and civil society actors.

This advanced study-unit provides students with an opportunity to engage in a deeper analysis and critical appraisal of a number of topics related to poverty and social exclusion highlighting the major debates taking place both within academic communities and public policy institutions.

In the context of hardening attitudes towards those experiencing disadvantage, it will look at topics such as attitudes towards poverty; experiences of benefit claimants; the intergenerational transmission of poverty; migration governance and migrant labour; the devaluation of care in the gendered discourse of economic dependence; social capital and networks of social support; economic conditions and government effectiveness; food affordability; the role of social enterprise in alleviating poverty and other relevant and contemporary issues.

It will be delivered through lectures and workshops with contributions from academics and practitioner researchers and will make use of class discussions and group learning.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to provide advanced theoretical and contextual knowledge about key topics in the area of poverty and social exclusion. It will delve deeper into the discourses that have emerged since the 2008 global financial recession that have often positioned the welfare state as part of the problem in poverty causation resulting in austerity measures across the EU.

The unit is also intended to enable students to think critically about how these discourses affect policy development, implementation and the lived experiences of disadvantaged groups.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Analyse the way the 'scrounger narrative' contributes to negative attitudes and stigma towards people living in poverty;
- Describe the way social capital and social networks can mitigate individual poverty, and their limitations;
- Describe the issues related to migration governance, the demand for migrant workers and exploitation of migrants;
- Explain how issues of diversity such as gender, race, age and disability intersect to exacerbate disadvantage;
- Explain the relevance that inequality in the top half of the income distribution has on the reduction of poverty;
- Analyse the extent to which institutional structures, processes and reforms enable people living in poverty to exercise agency.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Reflect on their own ideas and opinions on the topics presented;
- Present their arguments in a clear, logical and mature manner;
- Reflect on possible resistance to conceptual change and challenge potential misconceptions;
- Develop a heightened awareness of the need to evaluate political discourses and claims;
- Develop well-written essays that demonstrate their critical engagement with the topics covered in the study-unit.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:


Beresford, P. (2016). All our Welfare: Towards participatory social policy. Bristol: The policy press.

Lupton, R., Burchardt, T., Hills, J., Stewart, K. and Vizard, P. (2016). Social policy in a cold climate: Policies and their consequences since the crisis. Bristol: the policy press.

Shildrick, T. (2017). Poverty propaganda: Confronting the myths. Bristol: The policy press.

Sayer, A. (2014). Why we can't afford the rich. Bristol: The policy press.


Journal of poverty: Taylor and Francis Online.

Journal of poverty and social justice: The policy press.

Poverty and public policy: Wiley online library.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Study-unit: SWP5120

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Seminar & Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 70%
Presentation (30 Minutes) No 30%

LECTURER/S Marie Briguglio
Vincent Caruana
Julian Caruana
Andreana Dibben (Co-ord.)
Edgar Galea Curmi
Maria Mercieca
Suzanne Piscopo
Rachael Scicluna

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.