PP412      Half Unit
Global Social Protection Design and Delivery

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Babken Babajanian


This course is available on the MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course is capped at 30.

Course content

The course will focus on conceptual, theoretical and practical issues involved in the development of social protection programmes in the global context. It will enable students to (i) recognise the objectives and role of social protection programmes in supporting human well-being, and (ii) analyse and critically assess the design, implementation, and evaluation of social protection programmes. The course will consider the design and performance of social protection within the specific economic, social, political economy and institutional context of their operation.

Social protection refers to policies and programmes designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability and improve people's ability to manage economic, social, governance, environmental, and lifecycle risks. Social protection includes three major policy instruments: social insurance (contributory pension, health, disability benefits); social assistance (direct cash and in-kind transfers); and active labour market programmes (skills training and public works).

In recent years, social protection has become a key instrument of public policy in the global south and it is no longer seen as an exclusive feature of the western welfare state. Building responsive social protection systems is a priority for many governments in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and international development organisations are heavily involved in supporting national efforts.

These developments have generated a strong demand for policy experts who can analyse, interpret, design and evaluate social protection programmes. The course will help students acquire in-depth knowledge and skills for analytical work and practical engagement in programme development. It will enable them to critically appraise how government agencies, international organisations and other actors design and implement social protection programmes.

The course will discuss major social protection programmes, including Bolsa Familia in Brazil, Juntos in Peru, Dibao in China, Pantawid Pamilyang in the Philippines, LEAP in Ghana, and PSNP in Ethiopia.

The course draws on academic literature and research studies and analytical reports commissioned by government agencies and international organisations (e.g. World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank). The chosen sources reflect the most recent developments in social protection worldwide. The course utilises the course leader's extensive hands-on experience in the analysis and evaluation of social protection programmes.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 30 hours across Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual interactive seminars and lectures delivered as online recordings.

Formative coursework

1. Seminar presentations on assigned topics and contribution to seminar discussions.  Each student is expected to do at least one presentation.

2. A short essay answering a pre-assigned question (500 words)

3. A short individually authored critique of a policy report (max 1,000 words)

Indicative reading

  • Devereux, S et al (2017) The Targeting Effectiveness of Social Transfers, Journal of Development Effectiveness, 9:2, 162-211. .
  • Holmes, R. and N. Jones (2013) Gender and Social Protection in the Developing World: Beyond Mothers and Safety Nets. London and New York: Zed Books.
  • Robalino, D. A., Rawlings, L. and I. Walker (2012) Building Social Protection and Labor Systems. Concepts and Operational Implications. Washington, DC: World Bank.
  • Standing, G (2007 Social Protection, Development in Practice, Vol. 17, No. 4/5, pp. 511-522


Essay (30%) in the LT.
Critical evaluation (70%) in the ST.

  • A three-part individually authored essay (30%), in which students answer pre-assigned questions (max 500 words for each answer; 1,500 words in total).
  • An individually authored critique of a policy report (70%) (max 3,000 words).

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2019/20: 25

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills