SOS2603 - Nordic welfare society - contemporary perspectives

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course gives an introduction to the Nordic welfare state model focusing on work, family, immigration, labour relations, economic policies, pensions, schooling and gender equality.

Theoretically, the course is informed by comparative welfare state research and contemporary debates on the sustainability of these welfare state models in the context of early 21st century challenges such as ageing, flows of immigrants and asylum seekers, financial internationalization and integration in the EU single market.

  • What are the historical roots of the Nordic states, and how did their political systems develop in the 20th century?
  • What social conflict lines, alliances and compromises created the post-war context of highly organized civil societies (centralized labour unions and employers associations, strong organizations of farmers and fishermen), linked to the state in patterns of democratic corporatism.
  • How is work and family life reconciled in the setting of the Nordic welfare state?
  • What policy reforms have been agreed on in order to respond to present challenges?
  • Are the ambitions of gender equality and universalist welfare provisions sustainable in the future?

The course examines a wide range of policies, e.g:

  • Parental leave
  • Daddy quotas
  • State-sponsored day care for children
  • Working time regulations
  • Integration measures
  • Conditions applying to various types of immigrants
  • Work life reforms
  • Labour market regulations
  • Economic regulations

 The cource also examines the outcomes of policies, e.g:

  • Fertility rates
  • Fathers’ participation in child care
  • The work/care balance of lone parents
  • Stable economic development
  • Integration and multiculturalism
  • Membership in unions and organizations

The course literature highlights the similarities and differences between the Nordic countries through analyses of comparative statistical data and national case studies, and by contrasting the Scandinavian experience with that of other European countries.

Learning outcome


  • historically and theoretically based knowledge about the basic features of the Nordic welfare state model
  • gender, family, integration and labour market perspectives
  • learn to assess the implications of this societal model for gender relations, economic development and social integration


  • skills in using sociological concepts and theories to analyse cases within the Nordic welfare states
  • the capacity to relate such cases to specific institutions and processes
  • discuss and write such analyses, following the basic rules of social scientific inquiry

General competence

  • awareness of the highly complex relationship between empirical research and moral reasoning in these lines of inquiry


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


  • Lectures
  • Seminars (smaller groups)

The seminars are optional, and you choose if you would like to participate or not. However, if you sign up to a seminar, we expect you to participate. If you do not want to sign up for a seminar, please choose "Seminar 99 - wish not to participate in seminar".

We recommend students to participate in the seminar. You will get guidance from your seminar teacher regarding the individual assignment and discuss topics from the assignments in relation to the curriculum.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


  • Individual, written assignment
  • 4 hours written school exam

The assignment and exam will be evaluated concurrently by one assessment committee and only one grade will be assigned based on this comprehensive evaluation. The written assignment and the exam normally account for approximately 40 and 60 percent of the final grade, respectively. However, the assessment committee may give more weight to the written assignment in circumstances in which the result is between two grades.

In order to pass the course, a passing grade must be achieved on both the written assignment and the exam in the same semester.

Resitting an exam

As of spring semester 2017, the examination model for this course was changed. Students who wish to resit the exam, must complete both the individual, written assignment and school exam anew.

School exam

The written school exam consists of two parts. Part one account for one-third of the grade and part two for two-thirds of the grade, respectively. In order to receive a passing grade on the exam, candidates must complete and pass both parts.

Individual, written assignment

Written examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera. Read more about training in Inspera.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read more about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in before the examination. Please read regulations for dictionaries permitted at the examination.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

It is recommended to request an explanation of your grade before you decide to appeal.



The deadline to request an explanation is one week after the grade is published. For oral and practical examinations, the deadline is immediately after you have received your grade.

The explanation should normally be given within two weeks after you have asked for it. The examiner decides whether the explanation is to be given in writing or verbally.

Ask for explanation of your grade in this course:

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language