SOWK203-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023

Policy Debates in the Social Services

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 July 2023
End Date: Sunday, 12 November 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 30 July 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 1 October 2023


This course examines key principles guiding policy on the provision of social services. Trends and debates around the shifting relationship between welfare systems and the state are explored along with factors influencing the delivery of human services in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Students will learn to critically assess the implications of social service delivery for providers and consumers of welfare services, and issues around the impact of inequalities in society.

At an advanced level, this course examines key principles guiding policy about the provision of social services.Trends and debates around the shifting relationship between welfare systems and the state are explored, along with a thorough analysis of factors influencing the delivery of human services.  Students will learn to critically assess the implications of social service delivery for providers and consumers of welfare services, and the impact of inequalities and injustices in societies, especially in our Aotearoa context.

The purpose of the course is that students develop a refined ability to analyse contemporary social issues in a systematic way, helping equip them as future human service practitioners or policy makers to apply their understanding. The relationship between ‘private troubles’ and ‘public issues’ will inform analysis and will assist students in appreciating the forces that impact on citizens' circumstances and on service delivery. A history of social policy and activism in Aotearoa is included in the course with emphasis on the effects of colonisation and iwi resurgence in sustaining well-being.

Learning Outcomes

  • Sound grasp of social policy theories and how they inform current debates
  • Refined capacity to analyse and explain the complex interplay of factors that influence policy development including social justice and activist movements
  • Advanced understanding of policy process and implementation in Aotearoa/New Zealand
  • Facility to critically assess the impact of social policy on service provision
  • Developing the skills to participate in policy development

    Learning goals:
  • To introduce social policy as it has developed in Aotearoa (pre-colonial and in the settler colonial state)
  • To explore ideologies, values and beliefs that underpin current social policy debates
  • To explore the place of social justice movements and activism in policy development
  • To introduce policy formulation and policy process and key opportunities of participation
  • To analyse contemporary social issues and their social policy implications
  • To consider the influence of social policy on both human service
    organisations and their clients
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Engaged with the community

      Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 15 points at 100 level from HSRV or SOWK, or
any 60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the BA, or
from the Schedule C to the BSW(Hons).


Equivalent Courses


Kerri Cleaver


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Online posts and response 20% 100 words max each Weeks 2-11
Social Justice issue history 21 Aug 2023 20% 1000 words max
Social Justice issue activism plan 25 Sep 2023 30% Template provided
Vlog submission 27 Oct 2023 30% 5 minute submission video

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Maidment, Jane , Beddoe, Liz; Social policy for social work and human services in Aotearoa New Zealand : diverse perspectives ; Canterbury University Press, 2016.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $821.00

International fee $3,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences .

All SOWK203 Occurrences

  • SOWK203-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023
  • SOWK203-23S2 (D) Semester Two 2023 (Distance)