University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 Archive

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Social Policy

About the minor

Social Policy is a field of study that is concerned with the wellbeing of all of us as a society. Social Policy is interested in the questions of how to address inequalities amongst us and how to make our society a fairer and more inclusive society. In the Social Policy minor, we will be looking at the issues behind the headlines we see in the news every day and analyse the decisions that governments make and who and what influences those decisions.

Students will be introduced to the subject through key concepts and ideas that have been developed to help understand the world. These foundational ideas will be consolidated in their second and third year units that explore a range of social policies that are introduced, tested and restructured over time both in the context of Australia and elsewhere.

These policies include but are not limited to the areas of:

  • Family
  • Globalisation
  • Healthcare
  • Immigration
  • Indigenous population
  • Old-age
  • Social security
  • Work and labour market.

We will challenge and unpack some of the common sense assumptions about certain groups both young and old, and men and women. We study central assumptions behind the design of these policies and investigate how they work in various contexts.

Studying social policy enables us to better understand how to manage social risks; what policy instruments are used to address them; and what underpins their very existence. We ask difficult questions about social problems and discuss what we want to do about them. The Social Policy minor offers an opportunity to engage in this discussion so that one day we can be a part of the solution to make the world better place to live.

Requirements for completion

A minor in Social Policy requires 36 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:
(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level selective units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level core units
(v) 6 credit points of 3000-level selective units

First year

Social Policy is an interdisciplinary subject and applied social science that engages us with the understanding of social problems and the discussion of what to do about them. In doing so, it draws upon a wide range of disciplines. Sociology, in particular, provides an important theoretical foundation for understanding society and Socio-Legal Studies enables us to understand the impact of the legal system. In the first year, students will be presented with a choice of the following units which are designed to prepare them for their second and third year:

  • Introduction to Sociology 1 (SCLG1001)
  • Introduction to Sociology 2 (SCLG1002)
  • Introduction to Socio-Legal Studies (SLSS1001)
  • Law and Contemporary Society (SLSS1003)
Second year

Building on from the theoretical and legal foundations established in the first year, students in their second year study Australian Social Policy (SCPL2601) and Understanding Social Policy (SCPL2602). These units provide students with an overview of the domestic context of their study and the conceptual basis for researching and analysing social policy. Comparative Social Policy (SCPL2604) provides a comparative perspective on welfare state development and seeks to understand the place of Australia in an international context.

Third year

In the third year, students focus on policy practice and global policy issues. Making Social Policy (SCPL3604) provides them with an understanding of the process of policy making and policy change. East Asian Social Policy (SCPL3602) looks at the experiences of East Asian countries to understand their economic growth and social development trajectories while Globalisation, Policy and Society (SCPL 3606) offers a transnational perspective on the issues of global migration.

Contact and further information

Department website:

Undergraduate Coordinator: