Master’s Degree Programme in Inequalities, Interventions and New Welfare State
The Master’s Degree Programme in Inequalities, Interventions and New Welfare State is a cross-disciplinary, international study programme. It is located in the INVEST Research Flagship Centre at the Department of Social Research, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Turku. We utilise our world-class social and behavioural scientists for educating students. This makes the programme unique both in Finland as well as in Europe at large.
About this degree
The degree includes prerequisite courses (5 ECTS), compulsory studies (109 ECTS) and elective studies (11–16 ECTS). The compulsory studies include language studies, subject studies, advanced method courses, the master’s thesis, thesis support and career advancement.
The first year of studies will mainly consist of methods and substantive courses together with the initial development of the thesis idea and proposal. Second year studies will center on thematic seminars and the thesis in the first semester and will also include work-life competences, and internship and exchange studies in the second semester.
The master’s programme offers excellent prerequisite courses that are designed to help students from various backgrounds outside the social sciences become familiar with the basic methods and concepts of INVEST.
Prerequisite Basic Quantitative Methods, 3 ECTS
This course is an intensive course designed to provide a solid foundation in quantitative research methods for students planning to conduct research in the social sciences. The goal is for students unfamiliar with quantitative research methods to learn basic statistical terminology, concepts, tests and techniques. The course consists of introductory lectures and basic statistical exercises.
Prerequisite Social Issues and Welfare State, 2 ECTS
This course is designed to familiarize students with some of the core concepts, terminology and literature underlying the master’s degree programme in INVEST. The course introduces core readings from various sub disciplines of the social sciences with the aim of developing an understanding of contemporary social issues and the role the modern welfare state plays in mitigating their influence over people’s lives and their children’s lives. The course also aims to introduce statistical analyses and empirical research in sociological thinking. Students are given and assigned a reading list and mini essays based on the topics outlined.
Comparative Welfare State, 5 ECTS
After the course, the student understands how welfare states operate, what the main data sources are for studying them, and how to draw relevant information from the data and interpret the findings. The course is divided in three thematic blocks: 1) Introduction to the welfare state and its institutions, 2) Family policy, gender politics and gendered welfare state regimes, and 3) Outcomes of different welfare state solutions. The course is based on a list of readings, introductory lectures, thematic seminars and essay writing.
Demography, 5 ECTS
This course provides an introduction to demography and population studies. The lecture examples have special emphasis on family and fertility trends in Finland and other European populations and register-based research, but students will get a chance to choose a special interest topic or question that they can explore throughout the course. The course is a seminar that combines lecturing with written assignments, discussions, and presentations based on students’ special interest topics.
Causal Inference, 4 ECTS
After the course, students will have a broad understanding on scientific thinking related to statistical and causal inference. The course introduces key concepts for causal inference from quantitative data, and presents the main statistical methods used in sociology to tackle the problem of causality. The course consists of lectures, small assignments, discussions based on learning materials and a final exam.
Multivariate Methods, 8 ECTS
Understanding the basic principles, concepts and methods, analyzing quantitative research questions using regression models, critically interpreting the results, and understanding the assumptions and limitations of statistical methods are key learning outcomes of the course. The course provides concrete and practical real world examples of data analyses and develops skills in using statistical software package Stata. The course consists of lectures and Stata lab sessions.
Social Inequality, 5 ECTS
After the course students will understand social scientific approaches related to social inequality and are capable of participating in academic discussion on the topic. The course starts by introducing the most central concepts and debates relating to social inequality. After that students will familiarise themselves with the current debates on social inequality and deepen their understanding of a topic chosen by themselves. The course consists of lectures and seminars.
Research Themes, 5 ECTS
The objectives of this course are to introduce the topics, themes and subprojects of the INVEST flagship project. The student is expected to participate in 6-8 lectures delivered by the principle investigators and senior researchers of INVEST. The students will also participate in three seminars where they will design an intervention working together in smaller groups.
Longitudinal and Multilevel Modeling, 8 ECTS
This course describes how to manage, describe, and model longitudinal (and multilevel) data as it pertains to the types of research carried out in the social sciences. It offers practical experience with real world examples and an overview on the estimation of models for continuous and categorical dependent variables, focusing either on the level of these variables at different points in time or on their change over time including fixed and random effects models and event history models. The course is realized as both lectures and as guided Stata lab sessions.
Prevention and Intervention, 5 ECTS
This course provides an introduction to the new and expanding field of prevention science, which involves the systematic study of interventions to decrease maladaptive behaviour and their consequences, as well as promote healthy, adaptive behaviours. The course will offer detailed descriptions of the design, evaluation and implementation of existing interventions – both universal and targeted – in the domains of education (i.e., school-based programs), psychosocial wellbeing and mental health. The course consists of lectures and seminars. During the seminars, students will get to apply knowledge gained from the lectures by designing their own intervention.
Evolutionary Perspectives, 5 ECTS
After the course, students are familiar with the basics of evolutionary thinking and recognise key concepts of evolutionary theory and its applications in different fields of science. Most importantly, they will understand how evolutionary approaches and theories can be utilised in social science research. Lectures will cover topics such as reciprocal altruism, kin relationships, sex differences and personality traits.
Migration and Ethnicity, 5 ECTS
After the course, students have knowledge of global migratory movements and their causes and consequences as well as the role that ethnicity plays in society. Students understand the theories that are used in the multidisciplinary field of migration and ethnicity research and are familiar with empirical research related to these topics. The course consists of seminars that combine lectures, student presentations, seminar tasks and discussion.
Peer Relations, 5 ECTS
After completion of the course, students will be able to 1) describe key theories and basic methodology in peer relations research, 2) understand how individual characteristics of children affect their relations with peers, 3) Understand processes through which peer affiliations, peer status, and the general social context affect the behaviors and psychological adjustment of individual children and adolescents, and 4) Apply recently acquired knowledge into the writing of a conceptual review or research proposal.
Digital Inequalities and Human-Computer Interaction, 5 ECTS
The course demonstrates how social scientists are dealing with the theoretical and empirical discussion on digital inequalities and human-computer interaction in contemporary societies. Once completed, the students understand the strengths and limitations of economic and sociocultural frameworks when analyzing disparities and social interactions in modern digital economics.
Welfare regimes and Social Policy in East Asia, 2 ECTS
The course aims to help students to gain a better understanding of the various ways in which welfare policies have evolved in East Asia in order to be able to engage critically with the debates and challenges surrounding the current East Asian welfare regimes.
Thesis support and career advancement:
The programme also offers thesis support and career advancement. Thesis support is carried out as an INVEST Research Proposal Workshop that prepares students for their master’s thesis, following the model of an academic research project. The research topics for the projects are to be chosen with the principal investigators of the INVEST Research flagship research groups and it is expected that the final product from the conducted research project (thesis) would be publishable as a research article in a peer reviewed academic journal. In addition, students will attend research seminars that prepare them to finalise their thesis.
To get practical experience and general understanding of the principles of working life and applying for jobs, the programme includes also an internship. The student works for three months in a position relevant to their education and receives guidance before and during the work experience.