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Social Europe


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations, track European Union Studies


The rapid development of European welfare states and European integration were among the most important developments of postwar European history. From the beginning of the European project, many argued that a European social union must accompany the building of an internal market. By and large, however, European governments preferred to retain national control over the core features of social policy. In this course, we (1) consider the debate over “social Europe” in the history of European integration and in public debate today, (2) compare the development of welfare states and social policies of various European countries and (3) examine the challenge and possibilities that supranational economic integration in an enlarged European Union as well as globalization pose to national welfare systems in Europe.
Topics covered include the history of welfare and social policy in European integration, employment policy, social cohesion, redistribution and inequality, gender equality and policy, health insurance, youth, old age and (dis)ability, the social rights and welfare access of migrants, and austerity politics during the Eurozone crisis

Course objectives

  • To provide students a comparative overview of national social systems and the core features of modern welfare policies in Europe

  • To provide students an overview of the debate on the impact that European integration has on national welfare systems

  • To consider together in class discussions and in a written assignment welfare in Europe during a period of globalization and austerity.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method


20%: Class attendance and participation
20%: Presentation comparing a social policy field of two European countries
20%: A short paper comparing a social policy field of two European countries
40%: A final paper on social policy in the European Union


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


To be announced

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A complete list will be provided with the syllabus; it includes writings (and audio lectures) by prominent voices in public discussions today, including Thomas Piketty and Fritz Scharpf.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch .

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. D.M. Oude Nijhuis