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About the course

Across the world, welfare states are emerging due to strong social rights movements and effective social policies, yet in most of these societies, inequal access to fundamental social rights and welfare policies continues to be prevalent. Some vulnerable groups do not have access to social protection benefits; some cannot dispute administrative decisions in a court of law; and low-income groups often carry the largest burden of financing welfare in largely regressive tax systems.

In this course, participants will investigate the conditions of (in)equal access to rights and welfare from comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives together with participants from different countries and various disciplinary backgrounds such as law, political science, public administration, sociology and social work.

Our course is only offered to students via our partner institutions. If you would like this course to be offered at your educational institution in the future, please contact us at

The course blends so-called short online learning modules (which we call nanos) with onsite and online teacher-facilitated discussion seminars and supervised case study research projects. Nanos break “normal” teaching into short accessible units that allow you to learn about equal access to welfare whenever and wherever. They comprise a mix of short video lectures and various kinds of readings, always supported by guided engagement, as well as individual and group-based exercises.

Learning activities include a mix of individual tasks such as reflection exercises, short written assignments, independent group-work where students engage across disciplines and country lines as well as peer-to-peer feedback. These independent exercises are combined with teacher-facilitated online discussion seminars, virtual open office-hours and continuous feedback from teachers on exercises and written assignments via our online learning platform.

The course comprises three modules: a main module, a thematic module and a project module:

  • Main module: The course’s main module provides course participants with a conceptual foundation with which to analyse contemporary welfare states. Taking the Nordic Model of Welfare and the Rechtsstaat as a starting point, course participants are introduced to central theoretical concepts in comparative welfare studies and principles of the Rule of Law and administrative law and constitutional rights, and to development of and challenges to the Rule of Law and welfare states globally. building on this foundation, course participants are introduced to comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to the analysing the rule of law, rights and welfare policies; and they apply these to deepen their understanding of historic and contemporary development of the rule of law and the welfare state in their home countries and other emerging welfare states.
  • Thematic module: In the second part of the course, participants will focus on a specific right or welfare policy as they opt into one of the following thematic tracks: 1) anti-discrimination at work, 2) social protection and social law, or 3) equitable taxation. In each of these tracks, students examine, theoretically and empirically, selected legal, political or social conditions that shape (in)equal access to rights or welfare policies within the chosen theme.
  • Project module: Following the thematic module, course participants will conduct independent, problem-based case study research under the supervision of course convenors. During the project module, course participants will conduct an empirical or legal case study in a chosen empirical context. Course participants will hand in a written report in which they present their case study project including research design, findings and comparative and interdisciplinary reflections.

The course is taught by an international group of professors and scholars of comparative political science, welfare studies, social law and policy as well as constitutional law and theory.

We are proud to share that the course has been developed and is implemented in close collaboration with professors and students from the following partner universities: Center for Comparative Constitutional Studies at University of Brasilia; Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Ilia State University; Institute of Public Policy at National Law School of India University, Bengaluru; and the Centre of Social Development in Africa (CSDA) and Faculty of Law at University of Johannesburg.






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The course is available to everyone with a BA-degree from law or social sciences.

Currently, the course is offered in collaboration with our four partner universities institutions and primarily target MA-students and alumni from these universities.

If you would like to have our course offered at your educational institution, please send us an email at:


While you will mainly interact with students from your own country, there will be several opportunities to interact with students from another country. This interaction will happen either via online discussion forums and in occasional study groups. Furthermore, students will get the opportunity to present and discuss their final exam projects in a virtual cross-country virtual conference with course participants from the other countries.

We use the Nordic Model of Welfare and the Rule of Law as means of providing a basic conceptual foundation to analyse and discuss how to ensure equal access to rights and welfare policies.

In the course, you will learn about The Nordic Model of Welfare and of the Rule of Law and, more importantly, you will apply comparative and interdisciplinary perspective to critically discuss and assess whether and how it is relevant for emerging welfare states.


The course is kicked off with a mandatory onsite induction workshop. During this workshop, you will meet teachers and your fellow course participants, and you will get familiar with the online learning platform as well as the nano-based teaching approach.

The remainder of the course will be online while remaining highly interactive with both synchronous and asynchronous engagement with the teachers as well as with other students.

You sign up via one of our application site (click here) .

To find out more and see eligibility criteria, please go to the page that concerns the university relevant to you:

If you are not an eligible student, but would like to have our course offered at your educational institution, please send us an email at:



The course is currently free of charge for students.


Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Ilia State University

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Center for Comparative Constitutional Studies at University of Brasilia

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Students based in Bengaluru, India

Offered with National Law School of India University

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Centre of Social Development in Africa (CSDA) and Faculty of Law at University of Johannesburg

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Last Updated 09.08.2023