The focus of this course is on various research methods used in political science. It explains basic methodological concepts and discusses the main steps of the research process. Students are introduced to quantitative as well as qualitative analysis techniques, albeit with a special emphasis on the quantitative side. An important additional aim is to communicate an understanding of the relative strengths and weaknesses of quantitative versus qualitative techniques. The question of how to provide evidence for the existence of causal relationships in political science constitutes another central aspect of the course.
After completing the course, student are expected to possess:
- the ability to undertake basic empirical research using quantitative as well as qualitative techniques.
- satisfactory knowledge of the difference between descriptive and causal research questions
- satisfactory knowledge of the relative advantages and disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative techniques
- satisfactory knowledge of the problems involved in establishing causal relationships
- satisfactory skills in interpreting results from basic quantitative and qualitative analyses
- basic skills in computer-based statistical analysis
- basic knowledge of statistical inference
Teaching takes the form of lectures and mandatory seminars. The lectures cover the central topics of the course and give an introduction to computer-based statistical analysis. The seminars are the most important part of the course. They provide students with an opportunity to exercise their skills with regard to the main steps of the research process. At each seminar, the students are required to hand in individual, written solutions to a set of assignments. These solutions are then extensively discussed during the subsequent seminar under the guidance of a seminar teacher.
The course ends with a written exam. The purpose of the exam is twofold. First, it provides the basis for grading the students. Second, it encourages the students to review the contents of the course, thereby consolidating the knowledge they have acquired.
Grades are awarded on a scale comprising the grades VG (pass with distinction), G (pass), and U (fail), or, alternatively on the ECTS scale.
To reach the grade G (pass), students must:
- participate in all mandatory seminars as well as present serious attempts to solve all exercise assignments
- reach at least the grade G (pass) on the written exam.
After completing the course, students are expected to possess:
- satisfactory methodological knowledge relevant to the main areas of political science
- sufficient methodological skill to formulate research questions and undertake basic empirical research on their own
- basic knowledge of the possibilities and limits of science, its role in society, and the human responsibility for the use of scientific knowledge.
2 a) Political Theory, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Autumn semester 2007
The general aim of the course is to give the students deeper knowledge in normative political theory – on an abstract as well as on an applied level. The course is focused on different theories of justice, and their implications regarding constitutional and public policy. The students are expected to know the different concepts of justice among classical, as well as modern political philosophers. The students are also expected to analyse the different theories from a critical perspective, formulate their own views on justice, and to apply these on actual political problems.
After completing the course the students are expected to
- be informed about the scientific debate in normative political theory in general, and about the discussion on justice in particular,
- independently identify and discuss political conflicts, related to different normative principles of justice
- be able to collect theoretical an empirical information in order to formulate normative arguments in questions related to justice – nationally as well as globally.
- be able to present their arguments orally as well as in writing, in a clear and systematic way.
The course consists of three parts. In the first some of the most important classical political philosophers are presented, and there influence on modern political theory is discussed. In the second part different contemporary normative political theories are presented and discussed, such as utilitarianism, egalitarian liberalism, libertarianism, Marxism, feminism and communitarianism. The third part of the course focuses on a relatively new area in political theory – international justice. An overview of central concepts and theories is given. Special attention is given to the debate between cosmopolitan theorists of international justice and so called "statist" theorist of international justice. The central issue in this debate concerns the scope of distributive justice. Is it limited to a state and its citizens, or are all human beings to be considered within its scope? One answer to this question is given by Peter Singer in his utilitarian notion of global ethics. A different answer is given by Thomas Nagel in his "statist" conception of international justice. In the third part of the course these different notions of international justice are compared and discussed.
The teaching consists mainly of lectures. Otherwise the seminars are substituted with "discussion lectures", where the students are asked to raise questions in relation to the reading list.
The examination consists of a written test with 4-6 essay questions. The marking is based upon the students' knowledge of the course literature, and their ability to reason critically and analytically.
2 b) Gender, politics and citizenship, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Autumn term 2007.
Having completed the course, students are expected to:
- possess basic knowledge about theories on the social and political citizenship from a gender perspective
- possess good knowledge of how women's and men's political participation and representation differs and about the variation over time and between different countries
- possess good knowledge about the most common explanatione to why there are gender differences in political participation and representation
- possess a basic understanding of different types of gender- and welfare regimes
- possess good knowledge of gender equality in the EU
This course focus on theoretical and empirical studies that problematise gender, politics and the possibilities for a gender-equal political and social citizenship. Women's and men's political and social citizenship has developed in different ways. Women gained political rights later than men and still today social legislation in many countries is differentiated between women and men. According to the norm of the male breadwinner, married women are mainly treated as mothers and wives not as autonomous individuals. How do the distribution of power between women and men look today? Is there a connection between the degree of political gender equality and the content of political decisions, for example concerning social policy? Is gender more important than ethnicity? How do feminist theories contribute to our understanding of these problems? In the course we use a comparative perspective and also discuss the significance of EU-integration for gender equality.
The course consists of lectures and seminars. The seminars are compulsory and for each seminar there is an assignment that has to be fulfilled in advance. Finally the students write a course paper. The literature includes books, articles and working material including assignment for the seminars.
Examination is done through seminar activities, assignments and course paper. The following grades will be applied: passed with distinction (VG), passed (G) and failed (U).
In order to pass the following is required:
1) participation in compulsory elements of the course;
2) completed the assignments
3) course paper
2 c) Comparative politics, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Autumn semester 2007.
Comparative Politics in a Citizen Perspective: Socialisation, Attitudes, Participation and Identities.
After having completed the course the student is expected to have the following skills and abilities:
- a good understanding of research from a citizen (individual) perspective within the field of comparative politics
- a good knowledge of some of the most important research contributions in describing and explaining comparative socialisation, public opinion and participation in an extensive geographical context, in developed as well as developing parts of the world
- to understand, summarise and critically evaluate research in comparative politics
- to formulate relevant and interesting, theoretically based research questions within the field of comparative politics
While comparative politics is a very broad area of study, this course deals specifically with comparative research concerning the qualities and characteristics of citizens. In other words, we mainly concentrate on the micro level of comparative analysis, i.e. the individual level. The course aims to give a good overview of some of the most important themes within comparative citizen research, and it also aims at giving a wide geographical perspective on comparative politics, focusing on countries in all parts of the world.
We start by looking at comparative research with regards to how we become citizens, or "political beings", focusing on socialisation processes and on civic education. Students will become acquainted with the classical political socialisation research from the 60s and 70s as well as with the more contemporary (and modern) socialisation research.
An important aspect of comparative analyses is the attitudes of citizens across countries. Bratton, Mattes and Gyimah-Boadi study the public opinion on democratic and market reform in twelve African countries, focusing both on explaining different attitudes and on ascertaining the importance of public opinion in the consolidation of regimes.
Political participation is another common theme in comparative citizen analyses. In a study of participation in several countries, Norris, contrary to conventional wisdom, argues that democratic engagement has been reinvented.
A challenge for many political systems is a strong sense of sub-national identities among the citizens, for example ethnic, religious or gender identities. Varshney seeks to contribute to the discussion of what specific challenges ethnic diversity poses to democratisation in society.
On all the different topics there will be both lectures and seminars. For students who wish to participate in the seminars a written assignment is compulsory for each seminar. The final part of the course consists of a larger assignment. In pairs of two, the students are asked seek out an article related to any one of the books or articles in the course literature. The article is analysed in a written paper, but it is also orally presented during the seminar. Students will comment on each others assignments.
This course is examined through a combination of seminars and a concluding written exam. The seminar assignments combined with an active participation during seminars will be given points which can be transferred to the exam. The exam will however contain substitute questions for missed seminars.
The course aims to deepen the knowledge of comparative citizen research that the students first became acquainted with in the A-level course "Citizens, State and Politics" and to develop students' knowledge of this important field of research within political science. The course also aims to further the students' abilities to independently evaluate research as well as formulate their own research questions.
2 d) Swedish Politics, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Autumn semester 2007.
The purpose of this course is to deepen the insights on how the Swedish political system has developed and where it is today that earlier courses at the A and B level provided. Particular weight is put on focusing on areas where the Swedish political development differs or is in some way exceptional in comparison to advanced industrial democracies of a similar standing. Notwithstanding, an implicit comparative perspective guides the course. The aim is to strengthen the students abilities to make oral presentations by either individually or in small groups conduct a minor "field study" during the course. The ability to write in an analytic way is trained through the writing of reading reports and a final course-paper.
The course applies both a historic and a contemporary focus. In the first part, Sweden's democratisation from the late 19th century to the eve of World War II is analysed. In a comparative perspective, this process turned out to be surprisingly peaceful and pragmatic. The empirical knowledge about Sweden's way to democracy is placed in an internationally generated theoretical framework where the consolidation processes in other parts of Europe puts Sweden in some perspective.
Politics in Sweden has for the major part of the 20th century been dominated by a social democratic party and movement than in alliance with other political forces built a welfare state that still is extensive. The history of social democracy in Europe, where the Swedish case forms one of the major examples, is studies in the course. Why did the social democrats become so successful?
In the second part of the course the contemporary politics and policies are in focus. Sweden is today the world's most post-materialist country. How does this affect policies? One particular area of "post-materialist" policies is treated, the policies of parental leave and how the re-shaping of the identities of not least men have been a major part of this policy. The course also pays attention to how interest groups and organisations exert influence today and how political parties have been affected by the processes of individualisation that post-materialism has brought with it.
A major part of the books used in this course are research monographs, with some exception. In addition, scientific journal articles and book chapters will also be used.
The teaching in this course consists of introductions/lectures on the literature, seminars where the literature is analysed and discussed and a "field study" conducted by the students.
The course is examined orally through the active participation in the seminars and through the oral presentation of the field study. Written reading reports are to be handed in to each seminar, and a final course-paper consists also a basis for examination.
Specialisation in relation to examination requirements:
In this course the analytical skills are trained at a more advanced level than earlier. The literature is partly demanding, requiring a capacity to extract central conclusions from a larger body of information. The literature represents different research traditions and thus requires an ability to reflect independently on research design, sources and conclusions. That means, that a scientific approach is continuously being trained. The oral skills are important, understood here as the ability to present a self-collected material in front of the group in a clear and structured manner.
2 e) Organisation, Implementation and Evaluation, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Spring semester 2008.
Recently it has been claimed, that the traditional base of state authority has been undermined or crowded out. As the centre of policy making, the state has been challenged from above through international fora such as the EU, and from below through decentralisation and the empowerment of local political and administrative entities. Some scholars even claim that it is no longer meaningful to talk about "governments" or "states". In this course we will scrutinise this and other positions on political steering and guidance. We will do so by discussing the prerequisites for organising, implementing and evaluating public policy initiatives.
The aim of the course is to provide students with the capacity and skills to critically and independently describe, explain and evaluate single reforms and governing initiatives, as well as more general tendencies and patterns of political steering. They shall become familiar with the research literature, and also become competent to frame relevant problems on organisation, implementation and evaluation issues in public policy and political steering.
This course deepens and widens the understanding of organisation, implementation and evaluation in the policy process, on the basis of themes introduced in basic and intermediate levels of Political Science.
The course is aimed for students who want to deepen their knowledge on public administration and policy as well as students who are looking for a professional profile. A core idea is that good knowledge about relevant theories together with the capability to critically analyse and evaluate public policy and implementation should be asked for at the municipality and state levels, as well as the EU level of public administration.
The course focuses on three elements of the policy or governance process: organisation, implementation and evaluation. The underlying idea is simple. How the policy process is organised (formally and informally) affects how policy is implemented and how it may be and, in fact, is evaluated. At the same time, a central theme is that evaluation and implementation processes respectively organise power relations and governance patterns. Hence, beyond understanding the administrative logics of implementation and evaluation, it is equally important to understand their impact on the democratic polity in general.
Organisation. How is and how can the policy process and the public sector be organised and reorganised? Is it a matter of rational calculations or the consequences of routines, rituals or even random processes? What do we know about the match between different kinds of policy problems and institutional solutions?
Implementation. How are political intentions transformed into operative actions, results and outcomes? What explains the actual outcomes of policy initiatives and the use of governing instruments? How is knowledge produced and used?
Evaluation. What types of evaluation exist? From what normative criteria should public policy be evaluated and how should the evaluation process be organised? These are traditional and important issues of evaluation. We will also discuss the evaluation process as an arena for power struggles and the more general impacts of the evaluation trend on democracy.
For each of the three moments above there will be one or two lectures followed by a seminar. Theoretical frameworks, concepts and methods will be discussed and illustrated with cases. To every seminar, the student shall provide short texts (PM).
To pass the course, the students shall write a course paper and participate actively in the compulsory seminars. The grades are Pass with distinction, Pass and Fail.
2 f) European Union, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Spring semester 2008.
Having completed the course, students are expected to:
- possess basic knowledge of how the EU political system works;
- possess good knowledge of the basic institutions of the EU;
- possess good knowledge of the decision-making processes within the EU;
- possess a basic understanding of the most important policy fields within the EU;
- possess a basic understanding of the constitutional problems linked to the institutional design of the EU;
- possess a basic understanding of the main strategies for reforming the EU;
- possess basic knowledge of Europeanisation
- possess good knowledge of how parliaments, governments and administrations at the national level are affected by EU-membership
- possess the knowledge and skill required to independently acquire relevant information and describe as well as evaluate various aspects of the EU political system.
The aim of the course is to provide a basic understanding of how the EU political system works, and how the Union affects member-states. The course covers three main themes: First, the EU is studied as a political system. The key institutions and decision-making processes at the EU level are presented. The students are introduced not only to the formal rules of the game, but also to the political practices developed over time. Second, the course examines the basic constitutional problem of the EU. How democratic and effective is the EU political system? Which are the main options for reforming the current institutional set-up? How will the EU evolve if the Constitutional Treaty is ratified? The Third theme covers the processes of Europeanisation: if and how are the political systems at the national level affected by membership in the EU? Are processes of Europeanisation visible in the member-states? How has EU-membership affected executives, parliaments and bureaucracies?
The course is composed of a mixture of lectures and seminars. The lectures address the basic themes and issues. At the seminars students get the opportunity to discuss questions linked to the basic themes.
The literature includes books, articles and working material.
Examination is based upon participation in compulsory elements of the course and a written exam. The following grades will be applied: passed with distinction (VG), passed (G) and failed (U).
In order to pass the following is required:
(1) participation in compulsory elements of the course;
(2) the grade 'passed' on the written exam.
To pass the course with distinction the student is required to participate in compulsory elements of the course as well as receiving the grade 'passed with distinction' on the written exam.
2 g) Comparative Middle East Politics, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Spring semester 2008.
The purpose of this course is to offer students a theoretical overview of political conditions in the Middle East. After the course, students are expected to have fundamental general knowledge of state and politics in the region, a familiarity with ongoing debates concerning the use of theory and methodology in research about the Middle East, as well as basic knowledge of the different research fronts relevant to the region. During the course each student will specialise in one of the main themes of the course and thereby obtain deeper knowledge.
In order to pass the course students will need to demonstrate their ability to independently choose a relevant research question and analyse it within the proper theoretical and methodological frames, their ability to critically discuss and present information, orally and in writing as well as independently seek scientific sources and information.
The course offers a broad overview of state and politics in the Middle East (structure of the state, nation, civil society, democratisation, politics and religion, Islamism) from a regional and international perspective (foreign policy, security, international relations).
Lectures and seminars.
Examination takes place continuously throughout the course through written and oral assignments as well as through active participation in the seminars. For the final examination each student chooses a research question based on one of the themes of the course, works with this question within relevant theoretical and methodological frames and presents the research process and results in a course paper. Each student further discusses someone else's paper and contributes with scientifically relevant and constructive critique.
Students enrolled in the Programme "Orientalistprogrammet" are given preference.
2 h) Tragedy of the Commons: Climate, Water and the Politics of Natural Resource Management, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Spring semester 2008.
The course has two goals. The first is to deepen the students' knowledge and understanding of the 'collective action dilemma' in social science research. The second goal is to acquaint the students with two crucial global problems of natural resources: climate change and water availability. As a corollary to these two goals the course will also analyse and discuss possible political solutions to the management of climate and water (or natural resources more generally). Viz. Solutions at the international, regional, and local levels. International regimes such as the Kyoto Protocol are focused. The climate politics and policies of the European Union is the case in point discussing possible solutions at the regional level. Lastly, water and climate politics as they are played out in localities in the developing countries are analysed. The latter includes the confluence of state policies and norms in the local community. After finishing the course the students are expected to thoroughly understand the connections between problems of limited natural resources and politics. The aim is that students gain important scientific knowledge on the limits of water resources and climate to be able to connect this to possibilities and weaknesses in political systems. The intent is also to provide a good basis for students who want to pursue this topic in a C level essay in Development studies or Political science.
Content of the course
The course consists of four parts: Stating the Problem, International regimes and Climate Change, Climate Politics in a Regional Organisation: EU and Climate Change, and Managing the Local Commons: Water and Climate in Developing Countries.
The course consists of lectures and seminars.
The students are examined by means of (active participation in) seminars, written assignments, and a final written exam. Grades are awarded according to the scale "failed", "pass" or "pass with distinction".
3. Thesis, 15 credits 0.0 hp
The aim of this course is for the student to gain the insights and skills required for the meaningful participation in a research process, i.e. being able to examine the validity of arguments presented at seminar meetings. The essay assignment should hereby train the student to distinguish and define a research problem in political science, to delimit and carry out a minor investigation relevant to this problem, and to present the results in a clear and concise way. One aim is for the student to learn the appropriate methods for surveying the existing knowledge as well as gathering adequate new data. The student should then gain concrete experience of different investigation methods and learn how they can be used to solve the various tasks of a research project. The student shall also become familiar with different modes of interpreting and analysing research material and learn to draw well considered conclusions. Furthermore the course should make the student understand the value of analysing, in a dialogue with others, the design of different research methods and to constructively consider the views of others.
The course requirement is to independently carry out a well defined investigation of the student's own choice and set up in consultation with a tutor. The research will be presented at a final seminar in the form of a written paper. One important part here is for the students to analyse and consider, together with others, the design of different types of research tasks; not only the ones used by the student himself but also those of his fellow students. At the final seminar the author is expected to give a short oral presentation of his essay as well as reflect upon and answer questions about his own study. Furthermore, each student shall initiate the discussion about one other paper by acting as opponent, as well as actively participate in discussions on the other papers presented in the same seminar group.
The teaching is done in several different forms. Advice is given at lectures on how the students are expected to work with the essay. All students are given a tutor who will meet the individual needs of each student with regard to the essay assignment. In addition, seminars are given where the authors are given the opportunity to discuss the research in process. A main feature of the teaching are the final seminars where the finished products will be presented and discussed. On this occasion the students are given the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate how the different types of projects have been carried out from beginning to end, and what conclusions can be drawn from the specific problems dealt with in the process.
At the examination the main important thing is the design and quality of each student's essay concerning the preciseness of the problem definition, theoretical insight and reference to previous studies, methodological awareness and skill, and how well supported and clear the conclusions are. Creativity, analytical precision and depth are especially qualifying. Oral contributions at the final seminar are also counted in for the examination.
Specialisation in relation to degree requirements
The main focus of this course is the in-depth study and practice of the ability to critically, independently and creatively identify and formulate research problems; to plan and, by adequate methods, carry out qualified research assignments within a given time frame; and by means of both oral and written presentations report on these and discuss the conclusions and arguments involved in the process. The intention is for the students to develop the special skills required for the participation in research and development work, or for independent work in another advanced context.