This course is discontinued

DIAK4230 – Welfare State, Religion and Values

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course will introduce you to the history of the modern welfare state with especially emphasis on the Nordic/European context and the relation between church and state. In the first part we look at the impact of religion (Christian faiths) on the formation of welfare institutions and states. In particular the Nordic countries have been characterised by processes of secularization, some of them relating directly to welfare policy. At the same time it is possible to argue that the protestant heritage has normatively and structurally been an integral part of state and welfare state formation. This we will look into. In the second part we look at the role of the church in welfare state systems. There is a comparative element in the literature that will be followed up in class. The comparison is both related to countries and to history. We will also visit a faith based social welfare institution in Norway and learn more about the interplay between private and public assistance and its identity as a faith based institution in a pre-dominantly secular system. Issues such as gender equality, family policy and the role of private charity are dilemmas that highlight differences between various welfare state models, as well as particularities related to the Nordic model.

Learning outcome

When completing the course you will know and be able to distinguish between different analytical definitions of what a welfare state is. You can describe and discuss how religion has been a variable in the formation of various welfare states in Europe. You have particular knowledge of the Norwegian/Nordic model and normative issues relating to gender equity, family policy and private charity.


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.

Admission to the Master program in Profesjonsetikk og diakoni, or other relevant Master program at the University of Oslo is required.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Bachelor's degree with 80 credits within the fields of religion and theology, social sciences, history, or admission to one of the Master programs at the Faculty of Theology.


Obligatory requirements:
The student must during the course participate through written and oral presentations. These presentations are part of the exam and will be graded. For further information, see Exam information.

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.


The exam is a portfolio exam consisting of two papers. The first is an essay of 1500 words reporting on a book or articles from the syllabus. This will also be presented orally in class. The last paper is a thematic essay based on literature in the syllabus/achievement requirements. This amounts to 3000 words. The first paper counts 1/3 of the grade. The essay counts 2/3 of the grade.

Language of examination


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

Resit an examination

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





Teaching language

Norwegian (English on request)