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SOCI6046 International Social Policy

Module Overview

Social policies exist in all societies yet these differ strongly between countries. In the industrialised world, the role of the state in welfare provision is generally greater but important quantitative and qualitative differences exist, characterised most famously by Esping Andersen’s notion of ‘three worlds’. In the industrialising world, the role of the state is smaller, but governments, confronted with the social and economic pressures created by industrialisation, are under pressure to match economic progress with social progress. In all countries, broader economic, social and demographic changes, such as globalisation and ageing populations, create additional social policy challenges.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Students taking this module will analyse the various social policy approaches adopted by countries around the world with a particular focus on the industrialised West, the countries of the ex-Soviet Union and South and East Asia. Students will first consider the variety of ways in which welfare is produced, the explanations for cross-national variation in provision and the conceptual tools available for analysing them. Consideration will then be given to the main international challenges confronting social policies: globalisation, population ageing and social and cultural developments (eg changing gender relations). How do these challenges manifest themselves in the various national contexts? How are countries responding to them? These questions will be considered further in the final part of the module. This will assess current dynamics in international social policy; whether, in particular, we are seeing an emerging international convergence in the social policies of early and late industrialising nations towards forms in which individuals and the market play a greater role than they did in the welfare state’s ‘golden age’?

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Discuss the various ways in which welfare is produced and the significance of the different approaches.
  • Identify and critically assess different theoretical approaches explaining the dynamics of social policy development
  • Discuss the main conceptual tools used to analyse social policies
  • Contrast and compare social policies in different national settings using appropriate conceptual tools.
  • Identify the main international challenges facing national social policies and discuss the various ways in which countries have responded to them.


Social policy in its international context 1. What is international social policy? How is welfare produced? 2. The development of social policy - what are the main drivers? 3. Analysing social policies: citizenship and social justice 4. Types of social policy - welfare states in the industrialised world 5. Types of social policy 2 - welfare provision in the industrialising world The challenges facing international social policy 1. Globalisation 2. Ageing societies 3. Social and cultural developments Issues in the delivery of international social policy 1. The end of the welfare state? 2. Work-based welfare 3. Welfare markets and regulatory social policy 4. NGOs and the third sector

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will take place in one two-hour session per week. The format will be seminar-based, with students provided with guided readings in advance of the session, and encouraged to engage in discussion by the seminar tutor. On some occasions student might be asked to present material at the start of sessions. There will be a total of 20 seminar-based contact hours and up to 20 contact hours of tutorial support

Independent Study160
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Powell, M. (ed) (2007). Understanding the Mixed Economy of Welfare. 

Kennett, Patricia. (2014). A handbook of comparative social policy. 

Journals. â€¢Journal of European Social Policy • Global Social Policy

Taylor-Gooby, P. (2009). Reframing Social Citizenship. 

Clasen, J. (1999). Comparative Social Policy. Concepts, Theories and Methods. 

Gilbert, N. (2002). Transformation of the Welfare State: The Silent Surrender of Public Responsibility.. 

Gough, I and Wood, G. (eds.), (2004). Insecurity and Welfare Regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America: Social Policy in Development Contexts. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  ( words) 30%
Essay  ( words) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s)  ( words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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