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Policy & Politics: Struggling to combat social inequalities


Admission requirements

This course is only available to Honours students. There is a maximum number of 20 students.


Inequality is an inherent political contested issue. Although inequalities exist everywhere and throughout history, the way inequalities are accepted and legitimised changes from place to place and from time to time. In this course we will investigate the way social inequalities are recognised as such and how they develop from ‘a fact of life’ towards a political issue.
Once formulated as a political issue, the question arises what kind of policies could be developed and implemented to combat undesirable inequalities successfully. This is a highly dynamic process; political and social actors, governing institutions and policy issues interact with each other. Together, they will determine the outcome.
In this course, we will focus on various social inequalities; from class, education, and health to gender, LGBTQI and race/ethnicity. We will study the polity process on a local, national and inter/supranational level. The teacher will use her own experiences as a former Dutch Minister, junior minister and MP to analyse pitfalls and possibilities. Guest-speakers will join the classes to share their experience. Students are expected to investigate experiences of other stakeholders and participants, other countries, historical periods. These comparisons may help to understand the dynamics of ideals of equality, the way people combat inequality and the interrelation of policy and politics.

Course objectives

  • Understand the variability and contested character of the concept of equality;

  • Understand the interrelation between various forms of inequality (e.g. syndemics; intersectionality etc.);

  • Gain advanced knowledge about the interplay between political and societal actors; governing institutions and politics;

  • Apply knowledge about this interplay to societal issues of inequality;

  • Develop the ability to find a common ground among stakeholders with very different societal views;

  • Learn to reflect upon their own position and to understand positions of others (through class discussion, simulation);

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the constraints in developing policies to combat social inequality.


On the right side of the programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

Methods; a variation of in-class teaching, class-discussion, interviewing, simulation and assignments.

This course is worth 5 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Seminars: 9 seminars of 2,5 hours

  • Literature reading: 5,5 hours/week

  • Preparation of presentations, simulation; 8 hours

  • final paper 3000-4000 words: 60 hours.

Assessment method

  • In class-participation: 20%

  • assignments in preparation of class-meetings and presentations: 30%

  • written paper: 50%

All grades should be sufficient in order to pass the course.

Reading list



Brightspace will be used in this course. Registration will be done centrally.

Registration through uSis will be done centrally.

TGC coordinator/administration will take care of enrolment.
Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for this class. Your registration will be done centrally after successful completion of the Class.


Teacher: Prof.dr. Jet Bussemaker
TGC Coordinator: Annette Righolt