Policy Analysis in Social Protection

Course Description:

Social protection policies encompass a broad range of policy options available to governments to prevent households falling into poverty, protect households in poverty, promote and transform livelihoods. The important role played by social protection is widely recognized, and there has been an enormous expansion in programmes in the past three decades. However, the journey to fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goals (1 and 4) related to the eradication of poverty and inequality is far from over. Social protection policies, built on rigorous evidence, are a vital stepping stone on the way to building better lives for the poorest and most vulnerable on our planet. In this course you will be introduced to the core tenants of social protection, along with an introduction to some of the most common social protection instruments. With these fundamentals – and those learned in previous courses – you will be able to continue your exploration of this essential topic.

Learning goals:

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Understand key terms related to poverty
  • Understand the distinction between social insurance and social assistance
  • Understand key terms and the functioning of school feeding programmes
  • Understand key terms and concepts related to the functioning of health systems
  • Understand key terms and concepts related to the functioning of pensions


  • Master degree
  • In order to take this course, we advise to enroll upon completion of the courses Public Policy Processes and Public Policy Analysis or Introduction to Impact Evaluation – but if you have not completed those courses, please share your course experience (bachelor’s and master’s course lists) so we can assess if participation is feasible.

Course completion and estimated workload: 

The course is completed once you fulfil the course requirements and pass the assignments and the 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 assignment /oral exam.

ECTS equivalence: 2 

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


Group participation EUR 600,-

Duration: 10 weeks 

You will be enrolled for 10 weeks, including 1 week to access the platform and become familiar with the materials, 5 weeks of coursework, 2 weeks for the oral exam and 2 weeks of potential resit time. Plus, in case you fail the course, you will have the possibility to take a resit.

In case you prefer to use the 10 weeks in a different way, please agree with your tutor during your first exchange.

Starting date and enrolment: 

Deadline Application  Course Start Date 
15 January 2024
1 April 2024
3 June 2024
29 January 2024
15 April 2024
17 June 2024


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.


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.


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 

Required readings:

Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo (2007), The Economic Lives of the Poor, Journal of Economic Perspectives 21(1), 141-167.

Adam Wagstaff (2000), Socioeconomic inequalities in child mortality: comparisons across nine developing countries, Bulletin of the World Health Organization 78(1), 19- 29, available at: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/56955/bu0202.pdf.

Adam Wagstaff and Eddy van Doorslaer (2003), Catastrophe and impoverishment in paying for health care: with applications to Vietnam 1993–1998, Health Economics 12, 921-934, available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/hec.776.

Akhter U. Ahmed (2004), Impact of Feeding Children in School: Evidence from Bangladesh, International Food Policy Research Institute.

Amartya Sen (2002), Why Health Equity? Health Economics 11(8), 659–666, available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/hec.762.

Armando Barrientos (2010), Social Protection and Poverty, Social Policy and Development, UNRISD.

Donald Bundy et al. (2009), Rethinking School Feeding: Social Safety Nets, Child Development, and the Education Sector, The World Bank, Chapters 1-3

Elin Halvorsen and Axel West Pedersen (2019), Closing the gender gap in pensions: A microsimulation analysis of the Norwegian NDC pension system, Journal of European Social Policy 29(1), 130-143, available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0958928717754296

Ke Xu et al. (2003), Household catastrophic health expenditure: a multicountry analysis, The Lancet 362, 111-117, available at: https://www.who.int/health_financing/documents/lancet- catastrophic_expenditure.pdf.

Harold Alderman and Donald Bundy (2011), School Feeding Programs and Development: Are We Framing the Question Correctly?, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Harold Alderman, Daniel O. Gilligan and Kim Lehrer (2012), The Impact of Food for Education Programs on School Participation in Northern Uganda, Economic Development and Cultural Change 61(1): 187- 218.

International Labour Organization (2018), The ILO Multi-Pillar Pension Model: Building equitable and sustainable pension systems, Social Protection for All Issue Brief, available at:

https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_protect/— soc_sec/documents/publication/wcms_645751.pdf

International Labour Organization (2017), World Social Protection Report 2017-19: Universal       social protection                to achieve the Sustainable Development               Goals, International Labour Organization, available at: https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/— publ/documents/publication/wcms_604882.pdf

Lesley Drake et al. (eds), (2016), Global School Feeding Sourcebook: Lessons from 14 countries, PCD, Imperial College Press.

Michael Cichon, (1999), “Notional Defined Contribution Schemes: Old Wine in New Bottles?”. International Social Security Review 52(4): 87–105, available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1468-246X.00055

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2012), The OECD Roadmap for the Good Design of Defined Contribution Pension Plans, available at: https://www.oecd.org/finance/private-pensions/50582753.pdf

Patrick Webb et al. (2018), Hunger and malnutrition in the 21st century, The BMJ 361, 1-5, available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/361/bmj.k2238.full.pdf.

Richard Sedlmayr, Anuj Shah and Munshi Sulaiman (2020), Cash-plus: Poverty impacts of alternative transfer-based approaches, Journal of Development Economics 144.

Sebastián Galiani, Paul Gertler and Rosangela Bando, (2014), “Non-contributory Pensions”. IDB Working Paper Series No. IDB-WP-517, Inter-American Development Bank, available at: https://publications.iadb.org/publications/english/document/Non-contributory- pensions.pdf

Sonila M Tomini, Truman G Packard and Florian Tomini (2013), Catastrophic and impoverishing effects of out-of-pocket payments for health care in Albania: evidence from Albania Living Standards Measurement Surveys 2002, 2005 and 2008, Health

Policy    and        Planning,             28(4),    419–428,              available              at: https://academic.oup.com/heapol/article/28/4/419/967446

Stephen Devereux (2016), Social protection for enhanced food security in sub- Saharan Africa, Food Policy 60, 52-62.

Stephen Devereux, Rachel Sabates-Wheeler and Alvaro Pascual Martínez (2010), Home-Grown School Feeding & Social Protection, Institute of Development Studies, PCD Working Paper n. 216.

Xi Chen, Karen Eggleston and Ang Sun, (2018), “The impact of social pensions on intergenerational relationships: Comparative evidence from China”. The Journal of the Economics of Aging 12: 225-235, available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6286058

Youssouf Kiendrebeogoa, Kossi Assimaidoub and Abdoulaye Tall (2017), Social protection for poverty reduction in times of crisis, Journal of Policy Modeling 39(6), 1163-1183.

Zvi Bodie, Alan J. Marcus and Robert C. Merton (1988), “Defined benefit versus defined contribution pension plans What are the real trade-offs?” in Pensions in the US Economy. University of Chicago Press, 139-162, available at: https://www.nber.org/chapters/c6047.pdf