PO2PWS-Politics of the Welfare State

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Level:5
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Tim Vlandas

Email: t.r.g.vlandas@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
The course is an introduction to the politics of welfare states in the developed economies of OECD countries with a particular focus on Western Europe. It focuses on the interaction between political and economic factors in explaining the emergence and evolution of welfare states and their various forms across countries. Students learn the major theoretical approaches in the study of the welfare state and apply them to contemporary debates about the welfare state as well as the politics of welfare state reform.

Aims:
This module aims to give students a broad understanding of the welfare state, what factors determine its evolution and how we can explain the differences we observe across countries.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the course students will be able to
- Explain what the welfare state is, its origins, and differences across countries;
- Outline the economic rationale for having welfare state policies;
- Discuss the major approaches to the study of the welfare state;
- Evaluate the role and relative importance of different actors in influencing welfare state policies;
- Apply the main theories of welfare state change to recent reforms of welfare state policies in developed economies;
- Critically analyse the arguments supporting and opposing claims that globalisation and immigration undermine the welfare state.

Additional outcomes:
The module promotes independent study, critical and analytical skills, and the ability to communicate orally in a group context.

Outline content:
The following content is indicative only and may be subject to minor changes:

The course is structured in three parts. The first part looks at the economic rationale for having a welfare state. The second part analyses the origins, cross-national variation and evolution of the welfare state. It first asks what the welfare state is and where it comes from. Next, students are introduced to the literature on welfare state regimes and on the politics of welfare state reform.

The third part of the course considers several prominent debates on the welfare state. We first focus on the role of employers in opposing or promoting certain welfare state policies. We then examine how the welfare state is increasingly dualised with workers in permanent employment – the insiders – being well-protected and the outsiders remaining in insecure jobs with limited entitlements to benefits. Next, we discuss whether and how immigration undermines the welfare state. We also ask whether globalisation is at odds with having generous welfare states. Finally, we investigate whether there is a trade-off between efficiency and equity.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The course is taught through both lectures and seminars. Lectures introduce students to the relevance and key concepts of a topic as well as prominent debates in academic scholarship. Seminars then allow students to deepen their understanding and apply their knowledge of the topic through various tasks such as a presentation, group exercises, and case studies. Workshops in the spring term allow students to discuss the outline of their research project (see course requirements and coursework).
To complete the course successfully students must satisfy the following requirements:
1. Students must attend all the seminars
2. Students must submit one 2000 words essay. The essay question should be different from the presentation question (see point 3)
3. Students must give one 15 minutes presentation, which must be accompanied by PowerPoint slides
4. Students must undertake a 4000 words research project looking at a recent case of welfare state reform and assessing the relative merits of different theories as well as the role of various actors
5. Students must prepare a 1000 words outline of their research projects identifying the case of reform they want to look at, which theories they would rely on, and what material they would analyse. Students discuss this outline in the week after the Christmas break
6. Students are expected to participate in class debate
7. Students must read the compulsory readings before each seminar

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10 4
Seminars 10 4
Guided independent study 90 82
       
Total hours by term 110.00 90.00
       
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 30
Project output other than dissertation 60
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write one 2,000 words essay on a selected topic and one 4,000 words research project. Non-submitted essays and research projects will be awarded a mark of zero. They will also make a 15 minutes presentation: those who do not present will be awarded a mark of zero.

Visiting students will follow the same assessments for full credit but those studying in Autumn term only for half credits will submit a 3,000 word essay and deliver a presentation in total.

Formative assessment methods:
Students receive formative feedback on their outline during dedicated workshops which take place in the spring term.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

• where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;

• where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.
  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    There is no examination.

    Requirements for a pass:
    University-wide rules apply.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    If a student fails to pass the year at the first attempt there is an opportunity to be re-assessed on one further occasion at the next opportunity in those modules achieving a mark of less than 40%. Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward.

    Coursework: Failed or missing coursework should be re-submitted by 1st August, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.


    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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