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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: European Social Policy (PGSP11203)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course is organised in three sections. The first aims to provide an understanding of why welfare states emerged in Europe, how welfare states have been restructured and how welfare states are organised in selected European countries. We then address how we can make sense of the variations in national welfare state design and the wider political economy. The second part deals with the main challenges that all European welfare states are currently facing, most notably globalisation, demographic change and the transition to a service sector economy. The third section moves the focus to the European Union level - what are EU competences in social policy, how is social policy made at EU level, how has this changed over time and what future is there for a 'European Social Model' in the context of the Eurozone crisis, changing EU membership and different scenarios for the future EU?
Course description The course aims at providing an understanding of the emergence, development, current pressures on and reform of national welfare state systems in Europe. It also examines the role of the European Union in the regulation and provision of social policy in contemporary Europe. The course is primarily designed as a unit for MSc students in the School of Social and Political Science, but may also be of interest to students working at a similar level in other parts of the University.

This course looks at theories of welfare state emergence, differentiation into specific welfare state types and subsequent development including latest reform efforts in various European countries. It critically engages with the challenges posed by economic and demographic change for the welfare state and the varying responses by different welfare states to these challenges. It also scrutinises the role of the European Union in adding a 'social dimension' to European integration and the problems related to promoting common social policies across its (growing number of) member states. Finally, it critically discusses current challenges that all European welfare states face. Specific emphasis is given to current EU policies in the context of the Euro crisis which affect member state social and labour market policies.

Outline Content

Part A: Social Policy in Europe

1. The emergence and the development of European welfare states
2. Country comparisons I: France and the United Kingdom
3. Country comparisons II: Germany and Denmark
4. Welfare state models
5. Welfare states and national production regimes

Part B: Retrenchment and restructuring

6. Challenges and pressure for change
7. New social risks and the idea of social investment

Part C: The European Union and Social Policy

8. The EU and its 'social dimension'
9. The Open Method of Coordination
10. European social policy since the crisis

Each session will consist of a lecture element and an exercise or student presentation and discussion element. Students are expected to participate regularly and actively in seminar discussions, to read the set texts for each meeting, to complete the course exercises and to make at least one seminar presentation supported by visual slides.

Some presentations will take the form of short group presentations (maximum 15 minutes) which benefit from the knowledge and understanding of a number of different people. It is important to ensure that everyone is given the space to present their arguments but without exceeding the time limit on the presentations. However, it is also important to ensure that the material covered is being presented in a clear and coherent way. Whether presenting individually or in a group, it would be advisable to finish the presentation with a set of discussion points or questions that presenters would like other members of the class to consider and reflect upon in the ensuing discussion.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  50
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course is assessed on the basis of one short group presentation (counting for 10% of the overall mark) and one course paper with a maximum of 3,500 words (90% of the mark). The course paper must be written on either a topic suggested in the course handbook (there usually is a free choice of social policies or European countries on which the question can be applied), or a freely chosen European social policy topic to be agreed in advance between the student and the course organiser.
Feedback Formative assessment is provided by the option of submitting a voluntary short essay by week 4 of the course. Students who would like to take up this opportunity of receiving formative feedback on their essay writing skills are asked to submit an essay of max. 1500 words on a topic stipulated in the course handbook.
Feedback on this formative essay will be provided within three weeks and as early as possible. The essay will not be marked and is not part of the grade achieved for the course.

For the oral presentations, the opportunity is given to send draft slides for comments in advance of the presentation. Directly after a presentation the course organiser meets with the presenting group to give feedback on their oral presentation.

Feedback on the end of course assignment is provided within three weeks after submission.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To gain a critical understanding of why welfare states emerged in Europe and how they are restructured;
  2. To analyse the implications of the different ways in which benefits and services are provided and financed
  3. To critically engage with the challenges posed by economic and demographic change for the welfare state and the varying responses by different welfare states to these challenges
  4. To scrutinize the 'social dimension' of the European Union and the problems related to promoting common social policies across its (growing number of) member states
  5. To critically evaluate current EU policies in the context of recent challenges such asthe Euro crisis or Brexit and the likely implications for the future of social policy in the EU
Reading List
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Elke Heins
Tel: (0131 6)50 4049
Course secretaryMiss Jemma Auns
Tel: (0131 6) 50 24 56
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