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Unit information: Social Policy in East Asia in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Social Policy in East Asia
Unit code SPOL20049
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Izuhara
Open unit status Open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit develops students' understanding of the study of social policy in cross-national perspective, focusing particularly on the countries of East Asia. It explores how socio-economic and demographic changes taking place in East Asian societies have affected social policy delivery and management. This unit has two components: The introductory set of sessions deals with the characteristics of welfare systems in East Asia. This engages with theoretical debates about East Asian welfare regimes as well as more substantive discussions of social change and the contemporary political economy of East Asia. These discussions are then linked to specific policy themes including poverty, welfare and family change, urbanisation, migration and ageing societies.


This unit will introduce students to the social, economic and political contexts of selected societies within East Asia. It will also familiarize students with a range of substantive areas of social policy. The unit will provide students with the theoretical frameworks for analysing the development of particular patterns of social policy in particular countries.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the units students should:

  • Have an understanding of the relationship between globalization, regionalization and the development of social policy
  • Be familiar with the social, economic and political contexts of countries within East Asia.
  • Be familiar with a range of substantive areas of social policy in countries of the region.
  • Be able to interpret and analyse patterns of social policy development drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives.

Teaching details

12 lectures and 12 seminars.

Assessment Details

Assessment will be against the programme criteria defined for the appropriate level.

Formative assessment: One 2000- 2500 word essay

Summative assessment : Level I - 3000 word essay

Reading and References

    • Izuhara, M. (ed) (2013) Handbook on East Asian Social Policy, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar
    • Ngok, K and C, C-K (eds) (2016) China’s Social Policy: Transformation and challenges, London: Routledge.
    • Hwang, G. (ed) (2011) New Welfare States in East Asia: Global challenges and restructuring, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
    • International Journal of Japanese Sociology (2009) 18(1) Special issue on 'Social change and social policy in East Asia'