SN4000 The Nordic Model in Comparative Perspective Emneplan

Engelsk emnenavn
The Nordic Model in Comparative Perspective
Master's Programme in Applied Social Sciences – Study Option Nordic Social Policy and Global Sustainable Development
10 stp.


This course introduces students to the Nordic welfare model and the most important concepts, theories, and debates within the field of comparative social welfare with a particular focus on the notion of a Nordic welfare model. 

The course will be centered around the following issues: The Nordic model’s basic features, such as welfare rights, industrial relations and labour market regulations, and its basis, such as solidarity, democracy, equality, trust, and high levels of labour force participation. How can we conceptualize and measure variation in welfare states, and what (if any) are the common distinctive features of the Nordic welfare states? How do the Nordic welfare states perform in comparison with other advanced welfare states with respect to economic and social outcomes? How and why have the Nordic welfare states evolved historically? In what sense and to what extent is the experiences of Nordic welfare states relevant for policy debates and developments outside of the Nordic realm?




A candidate who has completed his or her qualification should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills, and general competence:


The candidate 

  • has advanced knowledge of the Nordic welfare model and similarities and differences between the Nordic welfare states
  • has advanced knowledge of how social policy in the Nordic countries is interlinked with labour market policy and labour market performance and regulation
  • has advanced knowledge of key concepts in the theory and comparative analysis of social welfare policies
  • has advanced knowledge of explanatory models, such as the logic of industrialism, institutional and state-centered approaches, and power resource theory and how they apply to the Nordic welfare states in particular
  • has advanced knowledge of normative perspectives on social welfare policy
  • has advanced knowledge of concepts that are relevant for assessing the outcomes of social welfare policies
  • has advanced knowledge of the challenges to mature welfare states and the Nordic welfare states from long-term megatrends, shocks and crisis. 


The candidate

  • can apply relevant analytic concepts, normative perspectives and explanatory theories in the analysis of social policies
  • is able to critically assess the notion of a distinctive Nordic welfare state model
  • is able to critically assess claims about the economic and social outcomes of social policies
  • can engage in academic debates on the sensitivity of mature welfare states and the Nordic welfare states to the external shocks and structural changes they face.

General competence

The candidate

  • can critically evaluate the use of concepts and theories in academic, as well as political debates, about social policies in general, and about the Nordic welfare model in particular
  • can critically evaluate the normative foundations of Nordic welfare policies

Arbeids- og undervisningsformer

The course is based on lectures, assigned literature, and group assignments (midterm papers). Students are expected to read the course literature and to actively participate in the lectures.

Arbeidskrav og obligatoriske aktiviteter

Students must submit a coursework requirement of 10 pages (+/-10%), Calibri 12 pt., paragraph 1.5, responding to one of a set of topics suggested by the course lecturer. The topics of the work requirement will reflect main areas of the course curriculum and lectures. The coursework requirement should be written in groups of 3-4 students. Students who are unable to participate in a group can alternatively be allowed to submit an individual paper of about five pages.

Students whose papers are not approved after the first submission will be given the chance to resubmit once. Students whose papers are not approved after two submissions will disqualify from sitting the final examination.

Vurdering og eksamen

The student's learning outcome will be assessed on the basis of an individual six-hour written school examination.

Hjelpemidler ved eksamen

Students may use a spelling dictionary, as well as a bilingual dictionary during the written school exam.


Grade scale A-F. 


The exam papers are assessed by one internal and one external examiner.

A random selection consisting of at least 25% of the exam papers will be graded by both an internal and external examiner. This will inform the grading of the remaining exam papers.