University of Chester

Programme Specification
Social Policy Health and Housing FDA
2017 - 2018

Foundation Arts Degree

Social Policy Health and Housing

Social Policy Health and Housing

University of Chester

St Helens College

St Helens College

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

2 years

5 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Social and Political Science

The Subject Benchmarking Statements that most closely represent this programme are to be found in: Social Policy (February 2016); Health Studies (October 2016); and Housing Studies (October 2014).

Chartered Institute of Housing (partial accreditation)

Social and Political Science

Friday 1st June 2012

  • To provide students with theoretical knowledge of social policy approaches and issues and the opportunity to apply that knowledge to produce operational effectiveness in the workplace.
  • To create an awareness of the changing requirements of the welfare sector with particular reference to social and health services and social housing provision.
  • To provide an educational foundation for a range of practice-based, administrative and management careers in social services, health care and the social housing sector.
  • To encourage students to make connections between social policy issues across vocational areas and to compare their own experiences in the field of welfare provision with those of fellow practitioners in related areas,
  • To develop awareness of good practice in different fields and the advantages of inter-agency working.
  • To enable students to acquire intellectual, practical and transferable skills and to enable them to use the skills in the move from dependant to independent learning.
  • To develop a range of skills, personal qualities and attitudes essential to enable students to engage in a successful career within social policy and welfare settings.
  • To provide students from a wide variety of backgrounds with the opportunity to realise their potential.

A. Intended Learning Outcomes are covered by the programme that enable students to have a knowledge and understanding of:

A1. The political and ideological underpinnings of social policy, and the legal framework in which welfare delivery occurs (SO4801; SO4804; SO4805)
A2. The key objectives of contemporary social policies in the fields of health, social welfare and housing, and the ways in which these have been shaped in recent years (SO4803; SO4804; SO4805; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805)
A3. Theoretical perspectives on social problems such as poverty and social exclusion, crime and homelessness that are offered through a range of social scientific disciplines including sociology, politics, psychology and criminology (SO4803; SO4804; SO4805; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805)
A4. The historical development of welfare policies in modern British society and attitudes towards client groups/service users from Victorian and pre-war poor law policies to contemporary approaches to social empowerment and anti-discriminatory practice (SO4801; SO4804; SO4805)
A5. The organisational environment within which welfare agencies operate and developing policies towards customer service, choice, participation, quality assurance and managing change, with the aim of transferring theoretical knowledge into the workplace and encouraging best practice (SO5801; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805)
A6. Current policies and practices, the ways in which they may impact upon the workings of different agencies, and the need for welfare agencies to work together to achieve desired social policy outcomes (SO5801; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805)
A7. The relationship between theory and practice, and policy-making and policy-implementation (SO5801; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805))
A8. A range of research strategies, and methods of data collection and evaluation (SO5802).

B. The programme covers Cognitive and Intellectual Skills that enable students to:

B1. Identify and analyse problems, and implement positive strategies to meet organisational objectives and customer needs (SO4802; SO5801)
B2. Interpret and evaluate information by engaging in rational informed debate and plan and implement problem-solving and management strategies (SO5801; SO5802; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805)
B3. Demonstrate and exercise independence of mind and thought in examining social policy issues from a variety of perspectives (SO5801; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805).

C. The programme covers Practical and Professional Skills that enable the student to:

C1. Draw up reports/action plans that analyse specific issues relevant to welfare delivery in the workplace, and which involve prioritisation of objectives, implementation strategies and conflict resolution (SO5801)
C2. Gather and present information in clear and appropriate formats, demonstrating an awareness of the reliability of data used (SO4801; SO4802; SO4804; SO4805)
C3. Outline the legal requirements and obligations placed on welfare and healthcare agencies and the ways in which changes in legislation impact upon the responsibilities of public bodies and their delivery strategies (SO5803: SO5804; SO5805)
C4. Compare the responsibilities of different welfare and healthcare agencies and the ways in which their policies impact directly upon the public and upon the work of other agencies (SO4801; SO5803: SO5804; SO5805)
C5. Take personal and intellectual advantage of vocational learning by networking and developing employability skills (SO5801).

D. The programme covers Communication Skills and other Transferable Skills that enable the student to:

D1. Apply suitable techniques and strategies in a variety of situations in order to solve problems while working individually or as a member of a team, whilst managing time effectively and meeting deadlines (SO4801; SO4802; SO4803; SO4804; SO4805; SO5801; SO5802; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805)
D2. Structure and communicate ideas effectively, in visual, written and oral form both as a team member and individually (SO4801; SO4802; SO4803; SO4804; SO4805; SO5801; SO5802; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805)
D3. Understand the working practices and environments of a range of public bodies in the fields of social welfare, health and housing and transfer skills, techniques and best practice between areas appropriately (SO5801; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805)
D4. Learn effectively for purposes of continuing professional development in both vocational and academic contexts (SO4801; SO4802; SO4803; SO4804; SO4805; SO5801; SO5802; SO5803; SO5804; SO5805)

By the end of Level4 students should be able to:

  • Describe and evaluate (at a basic level) some of the key concepts and theoretical approaches used in the social sciences and social policy discourse.
  • Describe a range of key concepts and basic theoretical approaches within social policy
  • Distinguish between different ideological perspectives on social welfare, health and housing issues.
  • Recognise historical and contemporary trends in policy making in the areas of social policy health and housing.
  • Identify political and social processes of inclusion/exclusion, and understand the importance of factors such as social class, gender and ethnicity in influencing social opportunities and outcomes
  • Recognise the values and processes that underpin the work of social welfare, health and housing agencies

By the end of Level5 students should be able to:

  • Describe, utilise and evaluate key social science and social policy concepts.
  • Compare and contrast theories and methodologies relevant to a substantive understanding of social policy and relevant social science disciplines.
  • Assess the appropriateness of a range of research strategies and methods and apply these in practical contexts appropriately.
  • Apply skills of critical reflection to learning within a work-based environment related to social policy, health or housing.
  • Examine critically the values and practices associated with welfare, health and housing agencies, addressing issues of human rights, equality and diversity as appropriate.
  • Critically evaluate contemporary welfare, health and housing policies, and discuss influences underpinning recent policy reforms.

The programme provides students with a broad survey of social policy covering social services, health and community care issues, and developments in the social housing sector. All modules are compulsory. It is intended that the programme will provide students with a solid basis of underpinning knowledge, help develop key skills, link theory with an understanding of practical issues in the workplace, and provide a foundation on which to make relevant comparisons. The programme also offers students with particular interests or employment experience the opportunity to explore issues related to the areas of health, housing and social welfare, to make connections between them, and to gain work experience in at least one of the areas. The programme is structured so as to provide students with: 

  • a broad introduction to social policy (including historical aspects, structures, ideological perspectives and legal underpinnings) 
  • personal career development and support (including PDP, substantial work-based learning, and through the personal tutor system) 
  • study skills support (through the Personal, Academic and Professional Development module and Research Methods module, and through tutorial support across the programme) 
  • opportunities for more detailed study of aspects of contemporary social and welfare policy, including particular reference to the areas of social welfare, health and housing 
  • opportunities for substantial, structured work-based placements in the areas of social welfare, health and housing to complement and build upon the academic and theoretical aspects of the programme, and to encourage students to identify links between theory and practice.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
SO4801 4 Perspectives on Welfare 40 Comp
SO4802 4 Personal, Academic & Professional Development 20 Comp
SO4803 4 Introduction to Social Science & Social Exclusion 20 Comp
SO4804 4 Exploring Health Care Issues 20 Comp
SO4805 4 Development of Housing Policy 20 Comp
SO5801 5 Work Based Project 40 Comp
SO5802 5 Social Policy Research 20 Comp
SO5803 5 Roles and Responsibilities in Healthcare 20 Comp
SO5804 5 Understanding Welfare Delivery 20 Comp
SO5805 5 Contemporary Housing Management Issues 20 Comp

The award is composed of 240 credits; 120 Level 4 credits and 120 Level 5 credits. All modules carry 20 credits, with the exception of Perspectives on Welfare at Level 4, and the Work Based Project at Level 5. It is expected that full-time students will complete the programme in two years with all Level 4 credits being delivered and completed in the first year, and all Level 5 credits being delivered and completed in the second year.


The following modules are validated by the Chartered Institute for Housing as credit towards Chartered Institute membership: SO4801, SO4805, SO5804, SO5805. Work submitted for SO5801 may be validated if undertaken in a housing context. Students on the programme are eligible for CIH student membership. Their membership status may be reviewed in the light of relevant module/programme completion. 

  • Access to Higher Education applicants should have (or expect to obtain) the full award in a relevant course.
  • Successful completion of related ‘A’ level study with a minimum of two subjects passed or equivalent to 48 Ucas tariff points.
  • Equivalent qualifications such as Scottish Cert of Education or International Baccalaureate.
  • NVQ Level 3 and related occupational experience

Students on placement will often require a Criminal Records Bureau check.

Please note: A BTEC National Award or the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) will be recognised in our tariff offer.

St Helens College and University of Chester are both committed to a policy of widening access and participation by groups currently under represented in Higher Education.  To this end, we will consider a diverse range of entry qualifications and, if you are a mature student, your application will be treated on an individual basis and your previous experience will be taken into account when assessing your suitability for the programme; in some cases a diagnostic exercise will be used as part of this process.

The programme has been designed to reflect the purpose of Foundation Degrees as indicated by the Foundation Degree Qualification Benchmark (QAA May 2010: 4): "Foundation Degrees integrate academic and work-based learning through close collaboration between employers and programme providers. They build upon a long history of design and delivery of vocational qualifications in higher education, and are intended to equip learners with the skills and knowledge relevant to their employment, so satisfying the needs of employees and employers."

The programmes aim is therefore to ensure that "academic knowledge and understanding integrate with, and support the development of, vocational skills and competencies, taking account of the need for appropriate academic rigour" (QAA May 2010: 6).  

The three themes of social welfare, health and housing are intended to provide a subject focus to the programme, a focus for recruitment, and a focus for the range of placements agreed with employers. The programme aims to link theory and practice, and to examine multi-agency links between welfare providers. The programme also covers a coherent range of themes that are typical of social policy degrees found in British universities. In particular the programme adheres to relevant subject benchmark statements for Social Policy (February 2016), Health Studies (October 2016) and Housing Studies (October 2014). At Foundation Degree level these indicate that graduates will have knowledge of:

  • origins and development of welfare institutions within and across the UK, and the social and demographic contexts in which they have operated
  • role, remit, organisation and contemporary activities of the main institutions of UK welfare systems, including the provision, financing and regulation of social security, education, employment, health and social care, and housing
  • framework, operation and financing of the processes of policy making and implementation
  • operation and impact of non-governmental sources of welfare, including the informal, voluntary and private sectors, and of how these interact within mixed economies of welfare

The personal and professional experience of students, of placement providers, and of practitioners, is intended to inform the programme and modules at both Level 4 and Level 5, and provide opportunities to enhance knowledge and connect theory and practice in the areas identified.   

The programme utilises a variety of learning and teaching methods which provide opportunities for students to enhance their learning skills and personal development during their degree programme.  These teaching and learning methods also take account of equal opportunities and inclusive practice, and where necessary will be adapted to meet the particular needs of students.

LECTURES - will be used to provide an introduction to the main themes, debates and interpretations of their subject, conveying basic information and signposting issues to be considered.  Relatively small class sizes allow lectures to be informal and interactive, whilst providing a common foundation of learning for all students.  Lectures will encourage students' skills in listening, questioning, note-taking, reflection and their appreciation of how information is presented.   

SEMINARS - will provide opportunities for more student-centred and interactive learning.  These will often be organised around themes and designated readings. This will enable students to deepen their knowledge of a particular subject and develop their ability to critically examine alternative perspectives. 

WORKSHOPS - these are intended to provide experience in collaborative and creative problem solving.  Workshops will also aim to develop key skills in information retrieval and presentation, communication skills and team/group work skills.

TUTORIALS - will provide the opportunity for individual or small groups of students to meet with individual tutors.  The aim is to provide a context whereby students' personal development and progress can be assessed (formative feedback); students can be encouraged to develop learning skills; students can be assisted to make informed and realistic choices within their degree course and support can be offered for individual or group project work, work-related placements and dissertation supervision.

Assessment is conducted in line with University of Chester regulations, and feedback will be consistent with University practice. The course team is committed to providing students with thorough, constructive and timely feedback, and internal moderation documentation used as part of the process of standardization in assessment encourages identification of good practice in this area.  

On the programme, students are assessed through a variety of methods appropriate to the learning outcomes of each module. Non-mark-bearing formative assessments will also be used as appropriate in order to facilitate students’ progress and offer informal feedback.

Assessed summative coursework may include seen and unseen examinations, essays and reports, critical reviews, data response exercises, projects, portfolios and presentations. Coursework briefs and feedback sheets will be used to accompany assignments, as appropriate. It is normal for marking and feedback to be facilitated through Grademark (using turnitin).

Assessment strategies are adopted in line with recommendations of the QAA Benchmark Statement for Social Policy & Administration (para. 4.3).  Modules involving student placements or primary research will conform to the University’s appropriate ethical approval policy and students will be given guidance on assessments to ensure that any ethical issues are appropriately addressed. Where necessary, advice will be obtained from the University link tutor on such matters.      

All coursework must be submitted by the deadline identified in the coursework brief and deadline schedule. Late submissions that are not covered by personal mitigating circumstances formally submitted and supported, or by agreed extensions, will be subject to penalty, as is work that exceeds the allowed word count. Referrals and deferrals are dealt with at the appropriate Assessment Board in accordance with the University’s assessment regulations. Coursework is assessed and subject to moderation in order to measure achievement against the Learning Outcomes of the module; to give students timely feedback so as to assist academic progress; to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses; and to ensure parity of standards with other comparable degrees. Progression of students between levels is subject to the approval of appropriate Assessment Boards in accordance with University regulations.

Students who graduate with the Foundation Degree in Social Policy, Health & Housing will have knowledge and understanding of Social Policy with particular reference to social welfare and social care, housing and healthcare issues. Capacities for imaginative, rigorous and critical thinking will be developed through the degree. 

Skills and knowledge specific to particular career routes within housing, health and social welfare, embedded within a broader understanding of the contemporary social and political context, will be fostered in partnership with employer stakeholders and placement providers. The development of complementary skills applicable beyond the degree, including IT skills, research and problem solving, communication, and working as part of a team, will also be a significant element of the degree programme.

Graduates will find the programme a useful grounding for entry to a range of careers within the welfare and public sectors including the third sector. Students already working in these areas may wish to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the programme to enhance their knowledge and skills and improve their career prospects within their existing, or in new, areas of responsibility. The Foundation Degree may be seen as a useful basis for progression onto study for the BA(Hons) top-up programme; in turn, the BA(Hons) top up programme may provide a satisfactory basis for further postgraduate study in related specialisms. 

St Helens College and the University of Chester are committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity both as employers and as educational institutions.  For this purpose both institutions have Equal Opportunities Policies and appropriate codes of practice. The purpose of these policies and codes of practice is to ensure that students on the Social Policy, Health & Housing programme(s) have equality of opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue their course of study.

It is the intention of the University, in partnership with St Helens College, to ensure that no student will be disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: sex or age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union, or socio-economic background.  It also claims to ensure that disabled people, or those with special needs, do not suffer unfair discrimination and are enabled to achieve their full potential.

The programme team has developed extensive partnership links with organisations in the social welfare, health and housing sectors. Many of these have supported the programme with offers of placements, or have provided representatives to talk to students and staff about the work they undertake. Significant stakeholder partners include: Helena Partnerships, Arena Housing, Riverside Housing, Plus Dane, Liverpool Mutual Homes, Halton Health Improvement Team, Ravenhead Foyer, Your Housing, the Brick Project (Wigan), St Helens YMCA, St Helens MBC, Warrington Borough Council, Halton Housing Trust, Brathay Trust, Wigan MBC (Dementia Care Services), St Helens CAB, Wigan CAB, Knowsley Housing Trust, South Liverpool Housing, the British Red Cross, the Children’s Society, Shelter, Lansbury Bridge School St Helens, Great Places Housing Group, Bolton at Home, Merseyside Polonia, Willowbrook Hospice, Local Solutions Knowsley, St Helens Priority Families, the Birch (Skelmersdale), St Helens Young Carers, Apex Charitable Trust and the Hope Centre (St Helens).

Work Based Learning offers students a minimum of 80 hours placement with an organisation (such as one of those referred to above) during Level 5 of the programme. In the process students have the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and abilities appropriate to any work setting. They may use the experience to explore career opportunities and work roles appropriate to their existing career development aspirations; or they may seek experience in employment areas previously unfamiliar to them. Students are free to arrange their own placement (and are encouraged to do so as part of the developmental process), or may undertake one arranged on their behalf by one of the team’s designated Placement Supervisors. Whilst all efforts are made to match students to placements which align closely with their academic interests and /or prospective career, this is not always feasible. The number of placements available is also sometimes restricted, particularly in specialist areas. As a consequence, it may be necessary for some students to complete placements in organisations or roles outside their preferred specialism.

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