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


  • 4 hours written school exam

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.

Resitting an exam

As of autumn 2018, the examination model for this course has changed. Students who wish to resit the exam, must complete the current examination model.

Digital examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

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.

The explanation is given in Inspera.

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.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language