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Unit information: Public and Social Policy in East Asia in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Public and Social Policy in East Asia
Unit code SPOLM0056
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Izuhara
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit develops student's understanding of the analysis of public and social policy in comparative, international perspectives, focusing particularly on societies in East Asia. Significant social and economic transformations since the 1990s have brought public and social policy issues to prominence in many East Asian societies. The impact of financial crises, subsequent economic downturn and demographic change has raised issues about the sustainability of previous patterns of welfare provision and shifted the direction of policy development. It adopts a regional approach to critically examine policy challenges and development in East Asia.

The unit has two components: the first set of sessions will provide students contexts and theoretical debates about East Asian welfare regimes (e.g. productivism, developmentalism), the role of different sectors (the state, the market, civil society) and more substantive discussions of governance, social rights, inequality and the contemporary political-economy of East Asia; In the second part, these discussions are then linked to specific policy themes including labour market and social protection.

This unit aims to provide students with an:

  • Understanding of key drivers of socio-economic, demographic and political change in East Asia
  • Understanding of major theoretical debates associated with comparative welfare regimes and policy developments across societies in the region
  • Understanding of the relationship between economy and public/social policy, governance and the distinctive role play by different sectors on the delivery of welfare
  • Knowledge and skills in the analysis of policy challenges and responses in key areas of public/social policy provision

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will have developed:

  • Knowledge and critical understanding of socio-economic, demographic and political contexts of societies within East Asia
  • Ability to interpret and analyse patterns of policy development drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives in the region
  • Understanding of the relationship between economic growth and policy development, governance and the distinctive role of each sector in the context of the globalisation and marketization process
  • A range of substantive areas of public/social policy in East Asian societies and particular issues and responses associated with them

Teaching details

Lectures, student presentation, small and large group discussions.

Assessment Details

1 x 4000 word assignment (100%) reflecting the learning outcomes listed above.

Reading and References

Izuhara, M. (ed) (2013) Handbook on East Asian Social Policy, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.

Chan, RKH, Wang L and Takahashi, M. (Eds) (2010) Risk and Public Policy in Changing Asian Societies, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Mok, KH and Forrest, R (Eds) (2009) Changing Governance and Public Policy in East Asia, London, Routledge.

Ngok, K and Chan, CK (Eds) (2016) China’s Social Policy: Transformation and challenges, London: Routledge.

Adachi, Y., Hosono, S. and Iio, J. (Eds) (2015) Policy Analysis in Japan, Bristol: Policy Press.