POL3523 - Welfare State and Health Policy: Challenges, Reforms and New Priorities


Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Assignment with adjusting oral exam
Grade: Letter grades

Evaluation Weighting Duration Grade deviation Examination aids
Assignment with adjusting oral exam 100/100

Course content

This course gives an introduction to the study of the welfare state and health policy in a comparative perspective. In recent decades, European welfare states have undergone extensive changes in terms of their goals, priorities and instruments, and today’s welfare state is radically different compared to the one that emerged in the last century. This course first gives an introduction to the traditional welfare state: why did we get welfare states, what are their tasks and why are they so different across countries? Next, the course will shed light on the crisis that emerged in the welfare state of many countries in the 1990s: why did the crisis arise, what were the challenges and how were they solved? The third part of the course deals with what we can call “the new welfare state”: why is there still a need for reforms of the welfare state, what makes such reforms so difficult and why are they still implemented, what characterizes the policy of the new welfare state, and will it be able to survive the new internal and external challenges it faces? The course consistently uses the health sector to give students a practical and empirical understanding of the issues that are introduced. The health system is the most important and cost-driving part of the welfare state, and because of that it is also the sector that has undergone the most dramatic changes. Many of the reforms have challenged traditional bureaucratic and professional management by introducing principles from the private sector. These changes are often associated with the label "New Public Management" where a fundamental goal has been to achieve a leaner and more efficient public sector with less emphasis on rules and processes and more emphasis on results. Even in countries that traditionally have had universal and publicly controlled welfare states, such as the Nordic countries, more competition and market logic have now been introduced on the assumption that this will increase quality and provide more efficient services. What do these changes mean for the political governance and administration of the welfare state?

Learning outcome

Knowledge - the student shall:

  • have knowledge of the most important development features of the welfare state, and of the main features of differences between different countries in terms of scope, tasks and organization
  • have knowledge of the background for the many reforms of the welfare state in the 1990s, and how this has changed the goals, tasks and organization of the services
  • have knowledge of main types of health systems and health policy in a comparative perspective
  • have knowledge of the health reforms of recent decades in different countries, and how this has changed the structure and organization of health systems
  • have knowledge of the «new welfare state», and what internal and external challenges it faces

Skills - the student shall demonstrate the ability to:

  • describe welfare states and the development of health policy in different systems
  • use key terms to analyze challenges in the welfare state
  • use relevant theoretical approaches to welfare state and health policy to explain variations between countries, and to analyze the distribution of power and resources in the services

Learning methods and activities

Lectures/group discussions. Supervision of term paper. The course will be held in English when requested. If less than 6 students attend the course the two first weeeks of teaching, the course will be given as an individual study course with supervision. Please contact the departement for further information.

Compulsory assignments

  • Presentation

Further on evaluation

Form of assessment: Term paper and oral examination. Length of term paper: 6000-8000 words. The oral exam covers the term paper as well as readings. The oral exam will be used to adjust the term paper's grade by a maximum of one grade. Both the term paper and the oral exam must be retaken at a repeat of the exam.

Specific conditions

Compulsory activities from previous semester may be approved by the department.

Required previous knowledge

60 credits including SOS1002 or an equivalent course in research methods. The requirement must be fulfilled to be admitted to the course.

Course materials

To be decided at the start of the course.

Credit reductions

Course code Reduction From To
SOS3603 7.5 AUTUMN 2017
POL8521 10.0 AUTUMN 2017
More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  15.0 SP
Study level: Second degree level


Term no.: 1
Teaching semester:  AUTUMN 2022

Language of instruction: English, Norwegian

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Social Studies
  • Social Sciences
  • Political Science
Contact information
Course coordinator:

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Sociology and Political Science


Examination arrangement: Assignment with adjusting oral exam

Term Status code Evaluation Weighting Examination aids Date Time Examination system Room *
Autumn ORD Assignment with adjusting oral exam 100/100





Room Building Number of candidates
Spring ORD Assignment with adjusting oral exam 100/100 INSPERA
Room Building Number of candidates
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"

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