In this course, we examine welfare states and current social policies from a comparative perspective. To achieve this, we analyze different approaches to the role of states and markets in welfare provision. In the first part, we review the fundamental concepts, origins and typologies of welfare states. This part revolves around the question of what a welfare state is, what its goals and functions are, why it exists and how it differs across countries. The second part covers pension, health care and housing policies. Given the complexity of the welfare state, we are not able to cover all the policies that are relevant for welfare state research, but the course captures the highly relevant areas and provides a comparative and systematic perspective on them. In the final part of the course, we examine welfare state challenges to understand the impact of globalization, post-industrialization, migration and political change on social policy. At the end of this part, we will be able to understand the extent of and reasons for retrenchment, liberalization and recalibration of social policies. Throughout the class we cover both theoretical and empirical material. Our perspective will be mostly at the macro-level of social policies and welfare regimes, but we also explore individual attitudes towards the welfare state and the experience of welfare state clients and workers.