University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 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: work and the labour market, healthcare, family, old-age, social security, indigenous peoples, globalisation, and immigration

We will challenge and unpack some of the common sense assumptions about certain groups both young and old, and men and women. We will 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 can do about them. The Social Policy minor offers an opportunity to engage in this discussion so that one day you can be a part of the solution to make the world a better place.

Requirements for completion

The Social Policy minor requirements are listed in the Social Policy unit of study table.

Learning outcomes
No. Learning outcome
1 Demonstrate a critical understanding of how welfare state institutions function in Australia and an ability to distinguish different welfare systems at work elsewhere around the world.
2 Evaluate and critically engage with different theories, concepts, perspectives and methods relevant to the discipline of Social Policy.
3 Identify and critique contemporary and emerging Social Policy challenges facing Australia and different welfare systems at work around the world.
4 Evaluate and discuss the intellectual, practical and ethical implications of the different value positions in the discipline and practice of Social Policy and link them with empirical enquiry.
5 Demonstrate the skills to design, debate and advocate for effective, creative and ethical solutions to contemporary and complex social policy challenges.
6 Demonstrate ethical and respectful engagement with others through participation in collaborative and interdisciplinary work.
7 Engage with a range of intellectual traditions to understand the several disciplinary approaches used in the study of Social Policy.
8 Demonstrate a capacity to identify and develop a scholarly critique of the implications of social policies on the distribution of distribution of income, wealth, well-being and risk within a society.
Contacts and further information

Department website:

Undergraduate Coordinator: