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Program purpose

The course promotes comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives to deepen the understanding the development of and challenges to the rule of law and welfare states globally. The course provides course participants with conceptual knowledge and analytical skills to deepen their understanding of the legal, political and social conditions that shape (in)equal access to rights and welfare across empirical contexts. The course brings together course participants from different countries and across law and social science disciplines to enable cross-country interaction, exchanges and understanding.

Who is eligible?

Current students of MA programs in Law, Political Science, Social Work, Public Administration (or other similar field), demonstrated proficiency in written and oral English is necessary, and graduate students from Centre of Social Development in Africa (CSDA) and Faculty of Law at University of Johannesburg, fluent in English.

Brief course description

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 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 compare the development and characteristics of the rule of law and welfare states globally and analyse the conditions that shape (in)equal access to rights and welfare. This is done together with participants from different countries and various disciplinary backgrounds such as law, political science, public administration, sociology and social work.

The course comprises three modules: a main module, a thematic module and a project module which collectively provide course participants with knowledge, skills and competences to deepen their understanding of the rule of law and its intersection with welfare state development applying comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives.

Read more about the course here.

Time and location

The course is kicked off with a mandatory onsite induction workshop on 28th-29th July 2023. Time and location is tbd.

The remainder of course takes place online. The specific time for the online discussion seminars will be agreed in collaboration with the teacher during the induction workshop.


The course is free of charge.


The course lasts 14 weeks (including induction). See tentative course schedule below, and be aware that times and dates for the live seminars are tentative. OBS. The title of different weeks will be subject to minor changes.

Induction Workshop
In-person in Johannesburg
28-29 July 2023
Induction workshop onsite: 28-29 July 2023. Time and location is tbd.
Full participation in the Induction Workshop is mandatory and will be necessary for following the course. There will be approximately 2 hours of preparation that you are expected to do prior to the workshop.
Main Module

Module pt. I: The Nordic Model of Welfare
Week 1
Live seminar: tbd. Introducing and defining the Nordic Model of Welfare
Week 2
Live seminar: tbd.
Drivers of change in welfare states - the Nordic Model and beyond
Week 3 Live seminar: tbd.
How well does the Nordic Model travel?
Main Module

Module pt. II: The Rule of Law in the Nordic Model
Week 4 Live seminar: tbd. The rise of the Rechtsstaat
Week 5 Live seminar: tbd. Core principles of the Rule of Law
Week 6 Live seminar: tbd. Access to Court and judicial remedies
Main Module

Module pt. III: An interdisciplinary and comparative perspective on welfare states
Week 7 Live seminar: tbd. Doing interdisciplinary and comparative research on rule of law and welfare
Week 8 Live seminar: tbd. Comparing emerging welfare states
Thematic Module
Week 9 Live seminar: tbd.
Social protection:
Students participate in one of three thematic tracks: 1) Anti-discrimination at work, 2) Social protection, or 3) Equitable taxation.
Week 10 Live seminar: tbd.
Social protection:
Project Module
Week 11-13:
Independent, problem-based case study research under supervision


Programme language



A certificate will be provided for students, who complete the full course.


Convenors of onsite and online seminars
  • Vincenzo Pietrogiovanni, JUST SOCIETY, University of Southern Denmark
  • Rasmus Schjødt, JUST SOCIETY, University of Southern Denmark
  • Siff Lund Kjærgaard, JUST SOCIETY, University of Southern Denmark

Read more about the JUST SOCIETY team here.

The course includes short video lectures 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.

How to apply

All students are required to apply to the course via the our registration system.  All applicants will be review to ensure qualification. 

You sign up here.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at


Listen to Associate Professor Lauren Graham explain why this course is relevant to students from South Africa.
Apply for the course

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Quote from student

"The platform is working well, and I am loving the course."

Student, spring cohort 2023

Last Updated 25.05.2023