Comparative Social Policy - SO872

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
(version 2)
Autumn 7 20 (10) DR J Kendall checkmark-circle


The approach of the course, like its subject matter, is inter-disciplinary, drawing on sociology, political economy and policy studies.

It covers:

- The value of a comparative approach to social policy and some of the problems in carrying it out
- The main theoretical approaches
- The way welfare states have been categorised
- Welfare in the less-developed world
- Migration and the welfare state
- EU and the Europeanization of social policy
- Globalisation and the welfare state
- Likely future developments in social welfare

The course will equip you to understand the ways in which scholars have approached the subject of the welfare state and also convey knowledge on some of the major issues in welfare.


Contact hours

The module will be composed of 12 lecture hours and 12 seminar hours.



Method of assessment

1. 500 word book/article review of one reading for one seminar with a handout for peers in the seminar.(worth 20% of the final grade)

2. 5,000 word essay, worth 80% of the final grade.

Indicative reading

Key Bibliographical Resources

Castles, F. et al. (2010) The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State is the most important book for the course. It does need to be supplemented with other material as indicated for each session. Students are also encouraged to use the internet for further sources – although always with caution and discrimination. A list of helpful internet sites is given after the book-list.


Castles, F. et al (eds. 2010). The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford University Press
Clasen, J. (1999) Comparative Social Policy: Concepts, Theories and Methods Oxford: Blackwell
Deacon, B (2007) Global Social Policy and Governance, London, Sage.
Esping-Andersen, G. (1990) The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Goodin, R. E. et al. 1999. The Real Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gough, I., Wood, B., Bevan and Davis (2004) Insecurity and Welfare Regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Social Interest representation Policy in Development contexts Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Hall, P. & Soskice, D. (2001) (ed) Varieties of Capitalism. The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage, OUP

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion, students will be able to:
- Identify major trends in the development of collective provision in welfare across the world
- Understand and apply key concepts and theories of welfare and ‘third sector’ provision
- Critically assess the various models and ideologies of welfare provision in the world
- Analyse national welfare states within a comparative framework
- Understand how the issues of globalisation and migration are relevant to studying the welfare state.
- Understand the impact of the European Union and other International agencies on national welfare states
- Identify common challenges that developed and developing welfare systems face today

These subject specific learning outcomes contribute to the wider programme learning outcomes, in particular to enable students to:
- Critically reflect upon key themes, verbal discussion and the written analysis of relevant social and political issues through an understanding of social science perspectives.
- Apply general theoretical and conceptual frameworks to the analysis of specific issues and problems affecting welfare states on an international scale.
- Develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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