Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

SOCI6047 International Social Welfare

Module Overview

Debates in this area have in recent decades seen a marked broadening. Dominant economic approaches have been challenged not just by researchers interested in basic needs and poverty (eg Streeten and Gough) but also on the basis of more 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. Students will be encouraged to critically engage with these debates, assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches and evaluate attempts to operationalise them in comparative social welfare research, such as in the UN Human Development Index, the World Values Survey etc. Students will also be encouraged to use the different approaches and the data sources they have generated to assess the performance on human welfare of selected societies using a case study approach.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module seeks to explore international debates about the conceptualisation and measurement of social welfare.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Knowledge of the range of approaches to understanding social welfare.
  • Ability to critically analyse the debates surrounding the conceptualistion and measurement of social welfare
  • Ability to explain the comparative successes and failures of different societies in promoting social welfare
  • Ability to evaluate the comparative success of societies in promoting human welfare.
  • Skill in the identification and use of data as a means to assess the performance of countries with regard to human welfare


1. Introduction - conceptualising and measuring social welfare 1. Welfare economics and national income 1. Basic needs and international poverty 1. Human development and the capability approach 1. Population health 1. Subjective well-being and happiness 1. Inequality 1. Sustainability 1. Researching international social welfare - data sources and their limitatons 1. Social policy and social welfare 1. Case study presentations 1. 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, 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 Study180
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journals. • International Journal of Social Welfare • Journal of Human Development and Capabilities



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework plan  (500 words) 10%
Presentation 30%
Report  (3500 words) 60%


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

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.