Journal of Social Policy Social Policy and Society Social Policy Review Policy World Understanding Welfare Series Understanding Welfare Series

The UK Social Policy Association (SPA)

Welcome to the website of the UK Social Policy Association (SPA). The Social Policy Association (SPA) is the professional association for teachers, researchers, students and practitioners of social policy. The SPA promotes the study of social policy and advances the role of social policy research within policy making, practice and wider public debates. Founded in 1972, it offers a wide range of services for all involved or interested in the subject and its development. The SPA aims to be an outward-looking association where international and global aspects of social policy, a broad world view, and engagement with scholars residing outside of as well as within the UK lie at the heart of what we do and how we go about it.

Most of our 500 members are active teachers and researchers in social policy and applied social science within UK higher education, although we also have a significant and growing number of members from other European, Asian and Australasian countries.


  • To promote the discipline of Social Policy
  • To represent its members' interests
  • To promote communication and learning between its members and with the wider policy and public


  • To promote the discipline by engaging in consultation with organisations responsible for post-compulsory education and social science research in the UK
  • To promote research, teaching and practice in Social Policy and work to enhance the public profile of the subject through engagement within and beyond the discipline
  • To provide a forum for the exchange and dissemination of ideas
  • To offer an unparalleled opportunity to keep in touch with national and international developments in a fast-changing policy environment
  • To actively promote stronger international links
  • To enhance the long-term development of the discipline by liaising closely with the Economic and Social Research Council and other bodies involved in postgraduate training; and provide a range of services to support and encourage advanced studies in Social Policy

Key activities include:

  • An academic conference each summer, regularly attracting up to 250 delegates from the UK and overseas
  • Support for the two leading international academic social policy journals, Journal of Social Policy and Social Policy and Society
  • An active network and regular seminars and conferences for social policy post-graduate students
  • A newsletter, Policy World, published three times a year
  • Regular engagement with UK higher education funding bodies; other learned societies in the humanities and social sciences; and policy makers

However, the SPA also needs you. We are a member-based Association and our influence depends on your enthusiasm and involvement in promoting social policy teaching, research and thinking. I hope that you will spend a few minutes browsing the SPA website, joining us if you are not already a member, and getting involved in the many activities that the SPA supports and promotes.

Caroline Glendinning
SPA Chair 2008-2011

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