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Unit information: Comparative and International Social Policy in 2015/16

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Unit name Comparative and International Social Policy
Unit code SPOL10014
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Lendvai-Bainton
Open unit status Open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will begin by considering the relevance of comparative, cross-national social policy analysis in a globalizing world. It will also address key conceptual and methodological concerns, and consider various explanations for the development of welfare systems cross-nationally. The next section of the unit will focus on welfare systems in specific parts of the world: Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and developing countries. These country-specific sections will adopt a common framework and will: provide a general introduction to the social, political and economic contexts of the countries concerned; outline and examine the welfare systems; consider the nature of social division; and consider future policy challenges and possible responses. The unit will conclude by integrating the initial discussion on concepts, methods and theories with the empirically grounded, country-specific case studies. Aims: This unit will introduce students to the challenges and opportunities of exploring and understanding social policy in more than one country. It will familiarize students with welfare systems in different national contexts, the nature of social division and the challenges facing these specific welfare systems. This unit will critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the various explanatory frameworks applied to comparative welfare systems and will highlight some general issues associated with carrying out comparative cross-national analysis.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit students should:

  • Have an understanding of the relationship between globalization and comparative, cross national social policy analysis
  • Be familiar with different perspectives for understanding the developments of welfare systems cross-nationally
  • Be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of undertaking comparative analysis
  • Be familiar with the welfare systems of at least three countries
  • Be able to interpret and analyse social policy drawing on a comparative, cross-national framework

Teaching Information

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment Information

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

Formative assessment: A timed (50 minutes) essay

Summative assessment : 2 hour unseen exam

Reading and References

  • Alcock, P. and Craig, G. (ed) (2009) International Social Policy Palgrave: Macmillan
  • Kennett, P (2001) Comparative Social Policy. Theory and Research. Open University Press: Milton Keynes.
  • Kennett, P. (ed) (2004) Handbook of Comparative Social Policy. Edward Elgar :Cheltenham
  • Hall, A. and Midgley, J. (2004) Social Policy for Development Sage: London.
  • Yeates, N. (2008) Understanding Global Social Policy, Policy Press: Bristol
  • Morales-Gomez, D. (ed) (1999) Transnational Social Policies: The New Development Challenges of Globalization Earthscan