Deciphering Welfare Ideologies: A Guide to Social Policy Essay Writing

Understanding the interplay of ideologies and social policies is crucial for comprehending the evolution and impact of welfare systems.


Course: Social Policy

Module title

Ideological Approaches to Welfare

Assessment title


Submission deadline date and time



For coursework assessments only: students with a Reasonable Adjustment Plan (RAP) or Carer Support Plan should check your plan to see if an extension to this submission date has been agreed.

Assessment task details and instructions


Answer ONE of the following questions:



1.      How did the UK’s Right to Buy housing scheme under the Thatcher Government reflect the principles of Neoliberalism?

2.      How did the UK’s Work Programme under the Coalition Government of David Cameron reflect the core principles of Conservatism?

3.      How would modern Marxist theorists explain welfare-to-work? (In your answer, refer either to New Labour’s New Deal, or else the Coalition Government’s Work Programme, but not both.)





·       Address only ONE ideological perspective. Do not waste word-count comparing it with other perspectives, unless strictly relevant.

·       This assignment is intended to measure knowledge rather than analysis. So it is not necessary to be critical of any particular perspective. Rather, demonstrate that you understand the key features of that perspective, and that you can apply these to an analysis of a specific social policy or policy era.

·       Your essay should interweave an explanation of the key features of the ideology with an outline of the policy.

·       Your essay or presentation should give equal weight to both parts – ideology and policy – interweaving both.

·       Be factual and specific rather than general.







Assessment Criteria





Knowledge and Understanding






Practical, Professional or Subject Specific Skills


Assessed intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this assessment, you will:


1. Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the key elements of an ideology.

2. Be able to show how ideologies interconnect with real world policy, either practically, or critically.

3. Be able to explain an ideology from the broad perspective of someone who believes in it.

4. Be able to show how real-world social policies interconnect with political or social theory.



1. Be able to summarise a political or practical perspective.

2. Be able to write clearly, identifying links between ideas and practice.

3. Be able to use explanatory language to convey complex ideas.

4. Be able to structure and organise a set of information.



Guide to Answering the Social Policy Essay Question:

  1. Choose Your Question Wisely:

    • Review each question carefully and select the one you feel most confident about. Consider your knowledge of the specific policy and the associated ideological perspective.
  2. Understand the Ideological Perspective:

    • Deeply explore the chosen ideology, whether it’s Neoliberalism, Conservatism, or Marxist theory. Grasp its key elements, historical development, and how it applies to social policy.
    • Utilise academic sources to build a solid foundation of the ideology.
  3. Outline the Policy:

    • Research the specific policy (Right to Buy, Work Programme, or New Deal/Work Programme from a Marxist perspective).
    • Gather factual and specific information about the policy – its aims, implementation, and outcomes.
  4. Interweave Ideology and Policy:

    • In your essay, seamlessly blend the description of the ideology with the policy analysis.
    • Show how the policy reflects the principles and values of the ideology.
  5. Be Clear and Factual:

    • Use a clear, explanatory style to articulate complex ideas. Avoid overly general statements; instead, provide specific examples and details.
    • Focus on showing understanding rather than critique.
  6. Structure Your Essay:

    • Start with an introduction that sets the stage for your analysis.
    • The main body should evenly discuss the ideology and the policy, illustrating their connection.
    • Conclude by summarizing how the policy serves as a real-world application of the ideology.
  7. Adherence to Academic Standards:

    • Ensure your essay follows the academic format, with appropriate citations and references in the required style.
    • Respect the word count and adhere to the submission deadline.

By following this guide, you can write a comprehensive essay that not only demonstrates your understanding of a particular ideological perspective in social policy but also shows how it is manifested in real-world policies.

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