Introduction to Social Protection for the Poor

Course Description:

The main objective of the course is to provide an introduction to non-contributory social protection and its relevance for fighting poverty and vulnerability. The course will highlight the role social protection measures can play in the development process and it will show the advantages and disadvantages of different policy interventions and design options. The course will offer online lectures, online discussion boards, assignments, weekly tutorial meetings to discuss readings and assignments, and an oral exam at the end of the course.

At the end of the training you will have a better understanding of the rationale for social protection interventions from a development policy perspective and will be informed about advantages and disadvantages of different issues related to the design and implementation of social assistance schemes in developing countries. More specifically, you will have gained knowledge on:

  • the rationale for governments to invest in non-contributory social protection programmes;
  • the link between social protection and inclusive growth and development;
  • types of social protection instruments;
  • beneficiary identification;
  • the relevance of fiscal space and how it can be created.
  • performance indicators for social protection interventions;


A Master degree (or equivalent) in Social Sciences

Course completion and estimated workload: 

The course is completed once you fulfill the course requirements and pass the assignments and oral exam. Your coursebook will also include the explanation of resit options. The estimated workload is 60 hours, including 10-15 hours per week and 10-15 hours per assignments/oral exam. 

ECTS equivalence: 2  

Participants will receive 2 ECTS equivalence credits and the certification will be offered through an online educational badge.  


Group based participation EUR 500,- 

Duration: 10 weeks 

You will be enrolled for 10 weeks, including 1 week to access the platform and become familiar with the materials, 4 weeks of coursework, 2 to do the oral exam and 3 weeks for potential resit time. 

Starting date and enrolment: 

Deadline Application  Course Start Date 
28 August
15 January 
11 September
29 January 


Upon a successful enrollment, every participant will start the course on an individual basis, immediately after the acquisition of the course materials. Your tutor will reach out to you to agree on a timeline. 

Please note that we will close the group registrations at 10 participants, based on first paid first serve rule. We will identify the full groups on the application website. 


You can register for the certificate programme via the application form by clicking on the “Apply Now” button on the right side of this page or by scanning the QR code if you prefer to apply via your mobile.  


To pay the tuition fee, please make the transfer to the following account. Upon payment, you will be registered as a student and contacted by your tutor. Please note that we need to receive the payment by the application deadline. On average, it takes 1-2 weeks between your transfer of funds and us receiving it. 

Bank account no. 
IBAN  NL05 INGB 0657 618705 
Swift or BIC code  INGBNL2A 
Beneficiary  Maastricht University 
Bank name  ING Business Banking 
Bank address  P.O. Box 90153 
  5600 RE  Eindhoven 
  The Netherlands 
Payment specification  your last name and 45320002001N 

Download the coursebook

Required Readings:

The cost of the course does not include expenses for books or hard copies of the course material. Course materials can all be downloaded by the participant him/herself.

Franziska Gassmann - Course designer

The current global crisis exemplifies the need for well-designed and implemented social protection systems. Countries with functioning systems are prepared for the economic shock that will affect millions of people. It is expected that countries with comprehensive social insurance and social assistance provisions will more likely be able to cushion the impact on the people and (in the long run) on the economy.
Prof. Dr. Franziska Gassmann, UNU-MERIT