Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module NHS-2202:
Comparative Health & Welfare

Module Facts

Run by School of Health Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Julianne Law

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims to answer the question: Who provides support and care to different groups, across the world, with regard to their health and welfare needs?

In order to do so, the programme explores a range of references to concepts of welfare regimes and critically evaluates differences in health and welfare outcomes at an international level in relation to a range of economic and political variables. These variables include patterns of migration, national political and economic histories, social determinants of health, environmental factors, war and conflict, human rights violations and ideological influences. The programme is designed to serve as an introduction to the identification and analysis of ideologies, concepts and theoretical perspectives surrounding the mixed economy of welfare and the role of the state in capitalist and “majority world” societies.

Specifically, a “systems” approach will study the role of five key components in the provision of health and welfare services – the state, the private sector, civil society, local communities, and family/kinship networks – and how they interact according to individual national dynamics.

By focusing on concrete examples of health inequalities, poverty and need, the module explores the process of the ideological, historical and social construction of social problems and policy responses to them. It will provide students with an overview of past, present and possible future responses to meeting individual and group needs and the ideologies that inform them, in the UK and internationally.

This module offers numerous opportunities to engage students in contemporary international socio-political discourses. By reinforcing theories and perspectives with weekly case studies the programme aims to meet students’ needs for dynamic, interesting and relevant engagement with international health and social policy topics.

Course content

Topics may include: 1. The development of an understanding of welfare regime theory and its critiques; 2. A comparative analysis of the structure, funding, objectives and outcomes of selected health and welfare systems in a number of countries; 3. To examine the impact of cultural, political and demographic shifts on those countries which have national systems and the situation of those countries in which they are not formally developed; 4. To explore the prevalence of health inequalities and to identify socio-economic, cultural and geographical variables that generate these inequalities; 5. To explore differences in welfare outcomes, and the possible explanations for these; 6. To map the differences in patterns of poverty and inequality around the world and to examine the economic and social determinants of these by using a range of countries as formative case studies; 7. To explore global issues, including communicable diseases, health behaviours, poverty, conflict, human rights, recession, climate and natural disasters, in order to evaluate the role of international organizations in promoting and protecting the welfare of the global population.

Assessment Criteria


A- to A+

• Present a sophisticated and holistic description of the impact of a welfare system on the lives of individuals within a specific demographic group;

• Critique the perspectives and welfare channels which have formative impacts on the identification of, and support for, individuals with complex needs;

• Engage critically with the value, or limitations, of comparative analysis in the production of a review of welfare provision within an international framework.


D- to D+

• Discuss the key features of welfare policies and approaches with reference to theoretical models used in comparative analysis;

• Identify the impact that competing forces of globalisation and political, cultural and institutional traditions have on the provision of care, welfare and support;

• Summarise the main points of the research and evaluation in the form of an essay plan and translate these main points effectively in essay format in class under time constrained conditions.


B- to B+

• Demonstrate substantial knowledge of the structure, objectives and outcomes of welfare provision by identifying and analysing key social, political, economic and cultural factors in each case;

• Identify and evaluate the relationships between the various actors and processes identified in each country’s welfare system;

• Discuss on the barriers and challenges to achieving welfare-related goals, in relation to the social group chosen for the review.

C- to C+

C- to C+

• Demonstrate good knowledge of the structure, objectives and outcomes of welfare by identifying and analysing key social, political, economic and cultural factors

• Identify the relationships between the various actors and processes identified in welfare systems;

• Comment on the barriers and challenges to achieving welfare-related goals, in relation to the social group chosen for the review.

Learning outcomes

  1. Describe the differing approaches to health and welfare issues in an international context;

  2. Have a knowledge of, and be able to suggest explanations for, global differences in health and welfare outcomes

  3. Have a knowledge of the role of international organisations and social movements

  4. Critically review differing welfare approaches to an identified health or social need, and communicate findings effectively within time constraints

  5. Demonstrate knowledge of theories of welfare regimes and their critiques;

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

A 10 minute presentation, describing the different approaches to health and welfare in one international context.


A 3,000 word essay demonstrating a knowledge of theories of welfare regimes, and an understanding of global differences in Health and welfare outcomes.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 160

3 hours per week over 12 weeks Weekly lecture (two hours) and one-hour discussion and case study (seminar group). The lecture and seminar group sessions will involve lectures, group tasks, debates and analysis of media content.

Tutorial 4

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

Demonstrate a knowledge of theories of welfare regimes and their critiques. Understand the differing approaches to health and welfare issues in an international context. Develop a knowledge of, and be able to suggest explanations for global differences in health and welfare outcomes. Demonstrate a knowledge of the role of international organisations and social movements in the world. Understand the role of international organisations and social movements


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Core Text. Castles, F.G., Leibfried, S., Lewis, J., Obinger, H. & Pierson, C. (eds.) (2012) The Oxford handbook of the welfare state, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Recommended texts. Alcock, P., May, M., & Wright, S. (Eds.). (2012). The student's companion to social policy. John Wiley & Sons.

Blakemore, K., & Warwick-Booth, L. (2013). Social policy: an introduction. McGraw-Hill International.

Clasen, J. (Ed.). (1999). Comparative social policy: concepts, theories and methods. Blackwell Publishing.

Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. John Wiley & Sons.

Farnsworth, K. & Irving, Z. (eds, 2011) Social policy in challenging times: economic crisis and welfare systems, Bristol, Policy Press.

Kleinman, M. (2002), A European Welfare State? European Union Social Policy in context, New York, Palgrave.

Knifton, L. & Quinn, N. (eds.) (2013), Public Mental Health: Global Perspectives, Maidenhead, Berkshire, Open University Press.

Landman, T. (2008) Issues and methods in comparative politics, 3rd edn., London. Noble, V. (2008). Inside the welfare state: foundations of policy and practice in post-war Britain. Routledge.

Page, R. (2007). Revisiting the welfare state. McGraw-Hill International.

Pierson, C. & Castles, F. (eds. 2006). The welfare state reader, Cambridge, Polity Press.

Sen, A. K. (2009). The idea of justice. Harvard University Press.

Titmuss, R. M. (2001). Welfare and wellbeing: Richard Titmuss's contribution to social policy. MIT Press.

Wilkinson, R. G., & Pickett, K. (2010). The Spirit Level. Penguin Books.

Journals Benefits Quarterly

Critical Social Policy - Gender, Work & Organization -

Global Social Policy

International Journal of Social Welfare

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

International Social Security Review

Journal of Comparative Social

Journal of European Social Policy

Journal of Policy Practice

Journal of Poverty & Social Justice

Journal of Social Policy

Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare

Politics & Policy

Scandinavian Journal of Social Welfare

Social Policy & Administration

Social Policy & Society

Websites OECD Health Database

WHO Global Health Observatory: Country Statistics

Centre for Policy Studies (CSP) -

Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) - /organisations/department-for-work-pensions

European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) -

International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) -

International Labour Organization -

International Social Security Association (ISSA) -

Inter-America Development Bank -

Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) -

Policy Studies Institute (PSI) -

Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) -

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) -

Courses including this module