Welfare State Politics (BST300)

Today's welfare states are the product of long historical processes that were characterized by different political ideas, interests, and especially conflicts. A welfare state is a tool to protect citizens from hardship, but can also be used as a tool to maintain existing inequalities (e.g., between classes or genders). This course introduces students to the main patterns of welfare state development and change and the central political factors and processes that affect welfare state policymaking (including the role of class conflict, gender, war, immigration, technoligical change, and political institutions). The course also develops students' general skills and abilities in academic reading and writing and the use of social science methods for research.

Course description for study year 2024-2025


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start


Number of semesters


Exam semester


Language of instruction

English, Norwegian


This course sheds light on the welfare state's ideological foundations and how the growth of different welfare state models can be explained with different ideological, political, and material factors. The course also considers current developments and their effects on the welfare state such as changing gender roles, automation, economic crises, and migration. The focus is always on the political processes that affect - or which are affected by - the welfare state and socioeconomic changes.

The course will be taught in English if exchange students wish to participante, and in Norwegian and English otherwise.

Learning outcome

After having taken this course, students will have the following knowledge, abilities, and general competencies:

Students should have knowledge about:

  • The political history of the welfare state
  • Theories of the Norwegian and Nordic welfare state model in comparison with other models
  • Social science methods used to compare welfare states across countries
  • Different political and social science perspectives on welfare states and their development

Students should be able to:

  • Analyze variation in the organization of welfare state policy
  • Explain central challenges related to the welfare state's economic foundations
  • Discuss potential explanations for why welfare state institutions vary between countries and over time

In terms of general research skills, students should:

  • Be able to formulate their own research questions or problems
  • Be able to read and interpret research results based on both quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Be able to independently apply social science methods
  • Be able to write papers in line with common standards for academic writing

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended prerequisites

BST100 Power and politics, BST120 Public Policy and Administration, BST250 Comparative politics, BST290 Quantitative research methods


Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Semester assignment 1/1 1 Semesters Letter grades

Detailed explanations and additional material related to the main course assignment, the term paper, will be distributed at the beginning of the semester. The term paper can be written in Norwegian (NB/NY) or English.

Coursework requirements

Obligatoriske innleveringer

Students have to pass a set of small mandatory assignments (pass/fail).

When participating, all mandatory submissions must be approved, regardless of whether they were approved in previous years.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Carlo Michael Knotz

Method of work

Activities include lectures, group work, and discussions. Students are expected to contribute actively to discussions in class.

Open for

Political Science - Bachelor's Degree Programme
Exchange programme at Faculty of Social Sciences


The syllabus can be found in Leganto