Course Outline

The idea of granting each citizen an individual and unconditional regular income without any means test of work requirement has gained my prominence across Europe (and beyond) in the last decade. In June the Swiss will vote on a referendum to institute a basic income. Basic income features prominently in public debates across Europe and several parties have adopted it in their respective election programs. The Netherlands and of course Finland are in the process of starting a multi-year basic income experiment, while most recently France and Portugal are exploring the same idea. The purpose of this course is to offer students a thorough introduction about basic income as a social policy instrument. The course outlines the main characteristics of basic income and explores how it differs from traditional income support policies. In addition, the course provides a critical overview of the reasons for and against a basic income as well as reviewing a number of practical and political challenges that need to be overcome. Finally, the course offers a series of lectures that focus on basic income in the Finnish context, including an updated account of the ongoing preparation for the basic income experiment scheduled to start in January 2017.

Learning Objectives

In this course students learn to critically examine the arguments in favour and against basic income and to place the basic income model within the broader context of challenges to and reform of the modern welfare state. Students will also learn to differentiate different basic income models, and to understand the practical and political challenges that emerge when moving from a social idea to a social policy. Students will be expected to critically engage with a key aspect of the basic income debate, conduct personal research to come to a better understanding of the problem and start to formulate a solution to the challenge identified. Throughout this course students will gain understanding of the practical problems of social policy design and implementation.

Course Structure

This course consists of a series of lectures (roughly one hour) by UTA faculty or guest lecturers, followed by a short discussion session with the students. The course is divided in three large components covering the reasons for introducing a basic income, the political and policy challenges faced by the basic income model, and a section discussing basic income in the Finnish context (including the upcoming basic income experiment). Students are expected to one required reading in advance of the lecture to familiarise themselves with the topic. Lectures will be recorded and (together with presentation slides) made available to students.


Jurgen De Wispelaere (
Anti Halmetoja (