Key Issues in Comparative Social Policy - SOCI8770

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 7 20 (10) Trude Sundberg checkmark-circle


This course focuses on key challenges for International Social Policy through systematically differentiating and analysing key fields and issues. In this way, the student is provided with a systematic overview of some of the main spheres in which international and national social policy agendas co evolve. Individual social policy fields include extended working life and retirement; health; social security, migration policy and social care; with related issue areas including social exclusion and urban policies. While many policy domains are under pressure to change in the context of common socio-economic and processes – including population ageing, globalisation, and international migration -the response to these pressures will vary depending on a number of internal and external socio-economic and political factors, whose configuration will vary markedly by country and policy field.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 178
Total study hours: 200


International Social Policy MA
Two year Master's in International Social Policy MA
Optional module for other SSPSSR taught MAs

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework - essay (4000-5000 words) – 70%
Coursework – review (1500 words) - 30%

Reassessment methods

100% coursework.

Indicative reading

Clasen, J. (1999) Comparative Social Policy: Concepts, Theories and Methods Oxford: Blackwell
Cochrane, A.; Clarke, J.; Gewirtz, S. (2002) Comparing Welfare States 2nd Edition Open University Press & Sage.
Cousins, M. (2005) European Welfare States, Sage Pub.
Esping-Andersen, G. (1999) Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Giddens, A. (2007) Europe in the Global Age, Polity Press, Cambridge.
Hall, P.A. and Soskice, D. (eds) (2001) Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional foundations of comparative advantage, Oxford University Press.
Hill, M. (2006) Social Policy in the Modern World, Blackwell Publishing
Leibfried, S. and Pierson, P. (eds) (1995) European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration, Brookings Institute, Washington.
Pestieau, P. (2006) The Welfare State in the European Union Oxford University Press
Powell, M: Hewitt, M. (2002) Welfare State and Welfare Change Open University Press.
Schierup, C.U. ; Hansen, P. & Castles, S. (2006) Migration, Citizenship, and the European Welfare State. A European Dilemma, Oxford University Press
Taylor-Gooby, P. (2005) (ed.) Making a European Welfare State? Convergences and conflicts
Over European Social Policy Blackwell Pub.
Tsoukalis, L. 2005 What Kind of Europe? Oxford University Press,

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Interpret social policy developments in general, and at the level of key fields and issue areas, using relevant international and comparative
analytic frameworks
8.2 Understand the role of the European Union and other supranational institutions in policymaking in social policy broadly and in key fields
and issue areas
8.3 Analyse national differences and similarities across key social policy fields and issue areas in terms of institutions, welfare mix
configuration and policy outcomes, using relevant theories and approaches
8.4 Identify and evaluate the salience and significance of major boundary-spanning processes for international social policy, including
globalisation, Europeanization, and international migration
8.5 Understand the nature of the political, economic, social and technological issues relevant to comparative social policy, and be able to
evaluate their emergence and development
8.6 Understand the different uses for and forms of theory, evidence and argument in international social policy studies; and develop an
individual stance on the appropriate application of analytic frameworks
8.7 Describe, evaluate and apply different approaches to collecting, analysing and presenting social and technical information
8.8 Assess the value of a range of research methods appropriate to a range of social policy issues and fields

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Communicate, in terms of organising information in a clear and coherent way, responding to written sources and presenting information
9.2 Application of theory and research evidence to understanding of key issues in welfare and social policy
9.3 Working with others by co-operating on seminars and expressing reasoned arguments orally
9.4 Argumentation: they will develop logical arguments based upon sound reasoning and understanding of the material and express these
arguments in a written format
9.5 Desk-based research. Students will be able to gather library and web-based resources appropriate for postgraduate study; make critical
judgements about their merits and use the available evidence to construct a developed argument to be presented orally or in writing


  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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