Labour Market Policies in Comparative Perspective

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The course aims to provide students with a comprehensive and critical understanding of contemporary labour market policy across advanced capitalist countries. The jobs people have are crucial for their income, social status, and well-being. This makes labour market policy a particularly important field of government intervention. The course will help students to acquire sound knowledge of general principles of labour market policy as well as an appreciation of variation across developed countries (mostly OECD member states). This is a problem-oriented course that seeks to bridge theoretical and practical knowledge. It will equip students with a critical understanding of the major labour market challenges governments face today, their determinants, and the main policies discussed to tackle them. These challenges include unemployment, precarious employment, and labour shortage. The emphasis will be on the politics of labour market policy. As the study of labour market policy is interdisciplinary, sociological and economic perspectives will also be discussed.

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


  • demonstrate their understanding of central concepts as well as the main policy instruments in labour market policy;
  • explain the basics of how labour markets function from an economic perspective and how work is analysed from a sociological perspective;
  • present how labour market policy varies across developed countries;
  • discuss how and to what extent various political actors shape labour market policy;
  • critically discuss the extent, determinants, and possible policy solutions to major labour market challenges in developed countries today;


  • apply the concepts and theories of labour market policy to specific empirical examples;
  • critically assess media reports and policy proposals;

General competence

  • synthesise theoretical and empirical material on a given topic;
  • differentiate and criticise platitudes in public discourse.

Semester of Instruction

Autumn - irregular
Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
Open for all students at the University of Bergen.
Teaching and learning methods

Form: Lectures

Hours per week: 2

Number of weeks: 10-15

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

A one-page policy memo

The approval of compulsory assignments has no time limit.

Forms of Assessment

Take home exam (3 days, maximum 3000 words)

The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught.

The exam can be submitted in English. It is also possible to submit in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish.

Grading Scale
Grading A-F
Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester

Re-take exams are arranged for students with valid absence according to ยง 5-5 of the Study Regulations at UiB. If a retake exam are arranged for students with valid absence, students with the following results can also register:

  • Interruption during the exam
  • Fail/Not passed

If you qualify for the retake exam and a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence, you can register yourself in Studentweb after January 15.

Course Evaluation
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.