Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

SOCI6046 International Social Policy

Module Overview

This module will review and discuss the state of the art in research on social welfare and human well-being and the one, and on social policies addressing these issues on the other hand. In the first part students will explore how previously dominant economic approaches towards social welfare have been challenged by researchers interested in basic needs and poverty (eg Streeten and Gough), but also by those making philosophical and psycho-sociological arguments, for example Sen and Nussbaum’s work on capabilities, Layard’s on happiness and Wilkinson’s on inequality and health. This is followed in the second part by the introduction of research on social policies in different welfare regimes. The link between these regimes and social welfare and well-being in different countries will then be studied. Overall, students will be encouraged to critically engage with these debates and to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches. They will also be introduced to different data sources which make it possible to measure human welfare and social policies globally, such as in the UN Human Development Index or the World Values Survey. For their assessment, students will be asked to use the different approaches and the data sources they have generated to assess the performance of human welfare of selected societies using a case study approach.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Know the range of approaches to understanding social welfare globally.
  • Be able to critically analyse dominant academic concepts and measurement of social welfare.
  • Be able to explain the comparative successes and failures of different societies in promoting social welfare.
  • Be able to evaluate the comparative success of societies in promoting human welfare.
  • Know different welfare regimes have been used to analyse social and human welfare.
  • Be able to identify and use data as a means to assess the performance of countries with regard to human welfare and social policy.


1. Conceptualising and measuring social welfare and social policy from an international perspective 2. Welfare economics and national income 3. Basic needs and international poverty 4. Human development and the capability approach 5. Subjective well-being, happiness and inequality 6. Social policies and human welfare: the social democratic world 7. Social policies and human welfare: the liberal world 8. Social policies and human welfare: the productivist/developmental welfare state 9. Social policies and human welfare: authoritarian developmentalism 10. Researching international social welfare - data sources and their limitations 11. Case study presentations 12. Case study presentations

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will take place in one two-hour session per week. The format will be seminar-based. Students will receive guided readings in advance of the session, and the seminar tutors will encourage them to engage in discussion. On some occasions students 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 Study180
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Comparative Political Studies. Journal

Esping-Andersen, Gosta (1990). The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. 

Haggard, S. and Kaufman, R. (2008). Development, Democracy, and Welfare States. 

Stiglitz, J.E., Sen, A. & Fitoussi, J.-P. (2011). Mis-Measuring Our Lives. 

Hall, P. and Lamont, M. (eds.) (2009). Successful Societies - How Institutions and Culture Affect Health (Introduction). 

Journal of European Social Policy. Journal

Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: lessons from a new science. 

International Journal of Social Welfare. Journal

Journal of Human Development and Capabilities. Journal

Wilkinson, R. and Pickett, K. (2009). The spirit level: why more equal societies almost always do better. 

Asian Studies Review. Journal

Journal of Social Policy. Journal

Ackerman, F. et al (1999). Human Well-being and Economic Goals. 

Nussbaum, M. and Sen, A. (1993). The Quality of Life. 

Sen, A. (1999). Development as freedom. 

Deaton, A. (2013). The Great Escape: health, wealth and the origins of inequality. 

Development and Change. Journal



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework plan  (500 words) 10%
Essay/report  (3500 words) 60%
Multimedia presentation 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework  (5000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings