SP9300 Social inequality, health and work inclusion: theory, research approaches and empirical findings Course description

Course name in Norwegian
Social inequality, health and work inclusion: theory, research approaches and empirical findings
Study programme
Doktorgradsprogram i sosialt arbeid og sosialpolitikk
Year of study
FALL 2019
Course history


The course is an optional course in the PhD Programme in Social Work and Social Policy Approved by the Doctorial Committee at HiOA March 30th 2017 

The course focuses on the reciprocal relationships between participation in the labour market and health, and the ways in which these are structured by social stratification. A running theme is how these phenomena and their interrelations are shaped by national and international institutions and contexts. The degree to which Western societies are able to integrate disadvantaged groups in the labour market is arguably one of the most crucial preconditions for their sustainability in the future. The course will apply an interdisciplinary perspective and draw on disciplines and research fields like social epidemiology, health research, sociology, labour market research, political science, and comparative social policy. The course will cover topics like concepts of health, in particular dimensions related to functional status and work capacity; the social distribution of health and its social determinants in different types of societies; international trends and patterns in labour market inclusion and exclusion; pathogenic and salutary aspects of work; policies and measures to include and retain disadvantaged groups in the labour market.

Required preliminary courses

No prior knowledge required

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course, the PhD candidate has the following learning outcomes defined as knowledge, skills, and general competence:


The PhD candidates have

  • thorough knowledge of the links between work and health in Western societies and how they are shaped by social inequalities and institutional contexts.
  • knowledge of the diversity of policies and schemes that are implemented to bring disadvantaged groups (back) into the labour market.
  • knowledge about prominent research traditions and their theoretical and methodological aspects.


The PhD candidates have

  • the ability to make well informed, critical assessments of different theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches to social inequality, health and inclusion in the labour market.
  • a scholarly and systematic basis for designing and conducting studies about inequality, health, work/labour market, and how these interrelationships are influenced by welfare state institutions.

General competence

The PhD candidates are capable of

  • assessing and identifying new research questions in the field.
  • taking part in debates in national and international fora.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching is organised as a combination of lectures, group work and presentations of the participants' own projects. The course is in English.

Course requirements

Participation is mandatory, and candidates are expected to attend all days of teaching. A minor absence (up to 20 %) can  only be accepted under certain circumstances and upon application. In the event of absences that are not approved, candidates will lose their right to have their essays assessed. 


Students must write an essay, in English, of 8-10 pages in connection to the course. The essay shall take the candidates project as its point of departure and be related to the course content. The essay must be handed in for assessment no later than two months after the end of the course. A passed essay is a precondition for being awarded the 5 ECTS credits. If the essay is awarded a fail grade, the candidate can submit a revised essay once, by a specified deadline. The essay will be graded by the course lectures.

Permitted exam materials and equipment

All examination support material is allowed as long as source reference and quotation technique requirements are applied. 

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on the basis of pass or fail.


The essay will be graded by the course lectures.

Admission requirements

Target group

The primary target group for the course consists of candidates who have been admitted to the PhD programme in Social Work and Social Policy, but will also be open to others who wish to study the topic of the course in depth, including international students.

Admission requirements for external applicants

The course is primarily offered to PhD candidates. If places are available it will be open to applicants who have completed a master's degree (120 ECTS credits) or equivalent education in social work, health sciences, social sciences or humanities. A grade B or better for the master's degree thesis/thesis at second degree level is a minimum requirement.

Applicants must submit an outline, no more than two pages long, of their planned essay.

Søknadsweb must be used for application and for submitting required certificates.

The maximum number of course participants is 15.