Social Policy and Welfare States in the 21st Century (Online)
This course offers an introduction to social policy and the comparative study of welfare states. What is the ‘welfare state'and what functions does it serve? Why and how do welfare states vary across countries and over time? What are the biggest challenges that welfare states face in the 21st century?
Listen to Bastian Betthaeuser talking about the course:
This course discusses the origins, development and functions of welfares states in high-income countries. Taking an international comparative approach, the course discusses theories, empirical research and policy challenges in a range of different countries. What is ‘the welfare state' and what purpose does it serve? How can we measure and explain welfare state change? What are the key similarities and differences between welfare states in different countries? How are welfare states affected by changing family structures, labour markets, population ageing, and migration? The course will provide a comprehensive discussion of these and other questions thus enabling students to critically engage with public and scholarly debates in this field.
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.
Part I The Welfare State
1. The Study of Social Policy and the Welfare State
2. The Development of Welfare States
3. Worlds of Welfare: Typologies of Welfare States
4. Analysing Welfare State Change: From Retrenchment to Recalibration
5. New Social Risks
Part II New Challenges for the Welfare State
6. Globalisation and the Welfare State
7. Changing Family Structures and Family Policy
8. Changing Labour Markets
9. Population Ageing
10. Migration and the Welfare State
To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following book:
Pierson, C. and Castles, F. G. (eds.), 2013 (3rd edn) The Welfare State Reader, Cambridge, Polity
This course is accredited and you are expected to take the course for credit. To be awarded credit you must complete written contributions satisfactorily. Successful students will receive credit, awarded by the Board of Studies of Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. The award will take the form of 10 units of transferable credit at FHEQ level 4 of the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS). A transcript detailing the credit will be issued to successful students. Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.
Home/EU fee: £260.00
Non-EU fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00
Dr Joseph Downing
Joseph completed his PhD in 2014 at the LSE on the subject of local policies towards minorities in French cities, having completed significant fieldwork in Paris, Lyon and Marseille. He has taught social policy at the LSE, in addition to teaching courses in the department of government and the European institute. He has also organised social policy trips for students in both London and Paris. Joseph worked for several years in front line services and urban regeneration in London. He has published extensively on the social policies at the local level in French cities in addition to how the city can act as a key policy innovator with significant autonomy from the national context in France.
This course aims to:
- provide an introduction to theories, empirical research and debates about the origins, evolution, and functions of welfare states in different countries
- discuss how we can classify and analyse different welfare states in a comparative way, and how we can measure and explain welfare state change
- give an overview of research and policy debates about “new social risks”
- Review and critically discuss how welfare states are related to globalisation, labour markets, family structures, population change and migration
- enable participants to critically discuss key questions concerning the functioning and development of welfare states in different countries thus enabling them to develop their own perspectives and contribute to current public debates about welfare provisioning
There are several kinds of activity that students will be asked to complete while on this course. Some of these will be ongoing throughout the course, whereas others will relate to the topic of a particular week. Activity types include:
- Readings of book chapters and articles
- Listening/watching podcasts/vodcasts
- Group discussions in unit-specific group forums (e.g. discussing a specific case study / policy)
- Interactive analysis and debate through our ‘InfoMap’ tool which allows students to answer questions or gather information from the perspective of a particular country and share this information with other students via a map interface.
- Participating in online surveys and polls
- Adding terms to glossary wiki
- Adding a resource to the 'resource bank'
- Reading of newspaper clippings / webpages
Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.
Level and demands
FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support