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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Social and Political Science

Undergraduate Course: The Welfare State in Global Perspective (LLLJ07015)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis is a for-credit course offered by the Centre for Open Learning (COL); only students registered with COL should be enrolled.

This course aims to provide a comparative understanding of welfare states across the world. Different models of welfare will be examined and students will be introduced to a range of welfare policies from the USA, Europe, Australasia and countries across the OECD. We will also consider current challenges to welfare and how different states are attempting to address these.
Course description 1. Origins and development of welfare states: a historical overview of the development of welfare in Europe and around the world.

2. Types of welfare states: an introduction to welfare regime theory and a comparison with other approaches.

3. Family models and demographic challenges: an analysis of gender and breadwinner models and an examination of demographic challenges such as fertility decline and population ageing.

4. Economic underpinnings and challenges: globalisation and the development of social expenditure theory including an examination of the concept of convergence.

5. The liberal welfare states: an introduction to the Anglo-Saxon model with a particular emphasis on the English-speaking nations.

6. The Bismarckian welfare states: the characteristics of a Bismarckian regime with particular emphasis on Germany and France.

7. The Nordic welfare states: focuses on the Social Democratic Model, introducing students to Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.

8. Alternative models of welfare (1): The Southern Model.
Does a fourth welfare regime exist? This week studies the characteristics of welfare in Italy with reference to Spain, Greece and Portugal.

9. Alternative models of welfare (2): The OECD.
The analysis of the emergence of welfare systems in alternative OECD countries such as Cuba, China and Central and Eastern Europe, including an analysis of their legacy of decades of state socialism.

10. European welfare states in comparative perspective.
The final class focuses on whether, despite all the differences between the welfare states found in Europe, it still makes sense to speak of a social model that is common to European countries when compared to other developed countries, especially the USA and the rest of the world.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Lifelong Learning - Session 3
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 2000 word essay submitted after the course finishes, worth 100% of the total course mark.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different welfare systems across various OECD countries in comparative perspective;
  2. Understand the challenges faced by welfare states and the ways in which these are being addressed;
  3. Compare and contrast OECD welfare states;
  4. Account for the differences between welfare states around the world.
Reading List
Castles, F.G. et al (eds) (2010) The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cousins, M. (2005): European Welfare States. Comparative Perspectives. London: Sage
Esping-Andersen, G. (2000): Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hay, C. and Wincott, D. (2012) The Political Economy of European Welfare Capitalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Web Sources

The Main Library's list of online journals is at:

See especially Journal of European Social Policy which has a Digest section on recent policy changes, and also (in the Main Library) Journal of Social Policy, Social Policy and Administration, West European Politics and Policy and Politics.


European Union:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Working collaboratively in a group; presentation skills; to be able to debate and discuss in a constructive and knowledgeable way; critical and comparative analysis.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr James Mooney
Tel: (0131 6)50 3077
Course secretaryMr Benjamin Mcnab
Tel: (0131 6)51 4832
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