Main field(s) of study and in-depth level:
Political Science G2E
Explanation of codes
The code indicates the education cycle and in-depth level of the course in relation to other courses within the same main field of study according to the requirements for general degrees:
G1N: has only upper-secondary level entry requirements
G1F: has less than 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
G1E: contains specially designed degree project for Higher Education Diploma
G2F: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
G2E: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements, contains degree project for Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science
GXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified.
A1N: has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
A1F: has second-cycle course/s as entry requirements
A1E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (60 credits)
A2E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (120 credits)
AXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified.
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
The Faculty Board of Social Sciences
The Board of the Department of Government
Political science intermediate level.
On completion of the course the student is expected to know how to - independently discuss and work with political science problems within the fields of Political theory, Swedish politics, Comparative politics, Administrative politics or International politics - distinguish and define Political science problems and independently collect and work on research material relevant to the formulated questions - understand texts with quantitative elements and work with basic quantitative methods - independently define, formulate and carry out a limited research assignment relevant to the theory and chosen problem and using political science methods, write and defend a scientifically structured essay - independently act as opponent which means discussing another student's essay and the contribution it makes - actively participate in seminar discussions and give presentations of articles and of one's own work
The course contains three sub-parts.
The first part is a methods course introducing various research methods used in political science. Here some basic methodological concepts will be examined and the different stages of the research process will be discussed. Qualitative as well as quantitative methods of analysis will be introduced during the course. Special attention will be given to quantitative methods.
The next part means a choice between a number of specialisation courses, where some will be offered in the Autumn term and some in the Spring term. The sub-courses are Swedish politics, International politics, Comparative politics, sex and gender, European politics, Political theory, Evaluation and implementation, Middle East politics and Development studies.
The third and final part consists of doing an independent and specific project chosen by the student and elaborated in consultation with an advisor. The work is to be presented at a final seminar in the form of a written essay.
1. Methods, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
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). In addition, grades will be given according to European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), that is using a seven-step 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.
2a. Political theory, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Autumn semester 2008
The course focus on the debate in modern democratic theories about justification of democracy. Two theories are presented. The first, advocated by David Estlund, argues that democracy has an epistemic value. Democracy is the best political system that can if you want wise decisions. Estlund believe that there is a kind of moral truth that political decisions must meet. In his theory of epistemic proceduralism he connects to different epistemic arguments for democracy, like J S Mill's an J J Rousseaus'.
Contrary to Estlund, Thomas Christiano argues that democracy can only be justified in terms of political equality. Democracy is the best system if you want to respect the citizens interests equally. The objective of democratic equality cannot be to reach a moral truth. But democratic deliberation has a value as a means to political equality. Public deliberation makes it possible for the citizens to formulate informed and autonomous preferences.
Different general theories about political authority is also treated in articles that will be added to the reading list.
The general aim of the course is to present different accounts of political authority, in particular in relation to the question of democratic legitimacy. Two contemporary theories of the fundamental value of democracy are treated – an epistemic theory and a procedural theory. According to the former democracy's value consists in its ability to produce "true" moral knowledge, according to the latter political equality is the sole value of democracy.
After the course the students are expected to:
- have a general understanding of different accounts of political authority.
- have general knowledge of different arguments for democratic legitimacy in modern theories of democracy.
- identify the most important differences between an epistemic and a procedural theory of democracy.
- identify the constitutional implications of epistemic and procedural theories of democracy
- formulate their own independent and elaborated argument for a particular theory of democratic legitimacy – orally as well as in writing
- apply different abstract normative arguments for democracy on actual political problems of democracy.
The marking is based upon the students' knowledge of the course literature, and their ability to reason critically and analytically.
Grades awarded Fail (U) - Pass (G) - Pass with Distinction (VG). In addition, grades will be given according to European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), that is using a seven-step scale.
2b. Comparative Politics: Conflicts, Democratisation, Institutions and Global Development, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Autumn semester 2008
The course deals with some of the central theoretical problems in comparative politics. Why do some people decide to use a gun instead of the ballot when trying to influence politics? What explains differences in degrees of democratisation? Which role do domestic and international factors play in a process of development? What is the role of history – path dependence – for the success of democracy? Can different institutions help solve ethnic conflicts or create justice? These theoretical problems are discussed in the course literature with reference to empirical research on Europe, South Asia, as well as from a global perspective.
The goals of the course
The course aims at providing a good understanding of research in the field of comparative politics. It should provide good knowledge of important research contributions that aim at describing and explaining political and ethnic conflicts, socialisation, democratisation, development, in an extensive geographical comparative context, in developed as well as developing parts of the world. Also, the choice of literature and cases studied has been made to give examples of different designs of research projects that should be useful for students preparing their C/D/master-level thesis project.
Comparative politics is a strange name. It is strange because what you find under the label comparative politics – and its synonyms in other languages – often is not (explicitly) comparative. Most of the time it simply is "politics in other countries"; other, that is, than the home country of the author. The conventional distinction between comparative and international politics is that the former deals with politics in other countries, and the latter between countries; this is more easy to remember if one thinks of another common name for the latter – international relations. But clearly there are interesting questions to ask where this demarcation will not hold, not least in the post-11-September-world .
If comparative politics is politics in other countries, then it is indeed a lot. Therefore we must make choices what to study. One option would be to attempt to see the world's political systems as a number of fairly distinct categories, and to learn about these categories and their cases. This has been attempted by numerous text book authors. Another choice is to study a number of constitutional systems in the world. This course is built on another logic. We have chosen to focus on some central research problems in comparative politics.
The overall problems concern democracy, conflicts, institutions (rules), justice and development. This is chosen because important parts of research in political science concern these issues, and secondly because these issues are important to many people in many countries; two overriding criteria for any research or teaching in social science. Within this theme the course focuses on these three issues:
- Ethnic Conflicts and Mobilisation
- Consolidation or Crisis
- Global Perspectives on Justice and Development
The choice of theme(s) and literature is a conscious attempt to bridge the unfortunate divide between studies of the West and "the rest". The idea is that we can learn more about industrialised countries, former socialist countries and so-called Third World countries by not separating them but studying them together.
Apart from the books required to be read, the course will make use of some academic articles. One purpose of using these articles is to give you an idea about current debates in international research. All articles will be available for free via the Uppsala University Library.
Within the allocated teaching resources there are a number of seminars you can attend. This is a conscious choice on our part – we hope that all of you will take an active part in the discussions we will have during the three seminars. Therefore we also encourage you to write and hand in the papers/assignments for each of the seminars (more below).
We have achieved our objective with this course if, in at the end of it, you think you have a better (or even much better) grasp of some substantial empirical, or political, problems in the contemporary world and some orientation in a few current debates in international research.
The only part of this course which is compulsory is the written exam at the end. If you fail that exam there is another chance a few weeks after (plus in mid-January and mid-August).
Grades are awarded on a scale comprising the grades VG (pass with distinction), G (pass), and U (fail). In addition, grades will be given according to European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), that is using a seven-step scale.
Remember that you must register for this exam ca 12 days before on our web site.
There are four seminars in this course. For none of them the assignment and active participation is compulsory. However, if you do the assignment and take an active part in the discussions in the seminar you will get credit when you do the written exam; for the first three seminars you will get 2 points each, and for the last seminar (research design) you will get 4 points. Since the course literature may be changed, these "credit points" are only valid during this academic year. (The maximum points for the whole exam is 30 points).
The instructions for each of the first three seminars will be handed out at the lecture preceding the seminars.
The "Research design" seminar (formulated by Hans Blomkvist and slightly modified by Sten Widmalm)
The task for the fourth and last seminar is to write – together with another student – a research design. Using 2-3 pages you shall
i) by using the literature for this course formulate a researchable hypothesis (or question)
ii) and suggest how the hypothesis could be verified or falsified through a comparative study
iii) and, finally, suggest what kind of data you would need to 'test' your hypothesis
The purpose of this assignment is to teach or train you to be intellectually sharp in two respects:
- What is in fact stated about empirical reality (in descriptive or causal terms) by one or several scholar(s)?
- How can you find out if that statement is true?
If you can find two contrasting or even contradictory hypotheses – which often are "hidden" as if it was a formulation shown to be true – in the course literature, so much the better.
You may use this assignment/paper as a preparation for your C-essay, but it is not required. If you want you are free to pretend that you will have almost unlimited resources at your disposal to do your study. One could spend a year, or more, on a task like this. But that is not the intention or idea.
You are very welcome to discuss your choice of topic with us, especially in the breaks between during lectures!
The task is formulated against the background of a claim made by Harry Eckstein (1998) that political science and comparative politics suffers from a scarcity of theories and a scarcity of data. This might sound contradictory. How could there be a dearth of theories and data at the same time? But Eckstein's argument is that political science has not been terribly good at developing empirical hypotheses and theories about patterns and causal connections. And at the same time our profession has been weak in systematically examining and investigating the hypotheses we have, after all. We have been much better at developing what Eckstein calls meta-theories, like Marxism, rational choice, system theory etc. He likens these meta-theories with languages; we can state similar things about social worlds in different languages (meta-theories). And many "battles" in political and social science are like fights over whether we should speak 'English' or 'Swedish' or 'Chinese'. This task is to encourage you to find out what the authors substantially (try to) say; no matter which 'language' they say it in.
Another way to phrase what Eckstein calls for is of course scientific cumulation. In courses in method we teach and we learn that science and social science develops cumulatively. But one may doubt whether that hold true for social sciences and humanities. With just a slight exaggeration I think we instead invent the wheel over and over again. But if that is the case – how come? For two reasons, I think. First, human interaction and societies are enormously more complicated than anything natural scientists study (cf. a video interview with Ilya Prirogine). You can think about this in terms of our brain. There is nothing more complicated in our world than the human brain, which is becoming more and more known through research. And what we as social scientists and historians are studying are many – hundreds, millions – brains in interaction. Brains that are very intelligent, capable of strategic interaction, long memories (sometimes communicated over generations), and a strong sense of symbols and culture. On top of this, many social scientists use very simple theories and models to explain (parts of) this human interaction. No wonder social science has problems.
The second reason for the lack of cumulation, I think, is the high premium on originality in humanities and (most) social sciences. If you want to be famous my advise is: Invent a "new theory". Or even just a new word. Something relatively simple that can be understood – or misunderstood, for that matter – and debated in any news paper in the world. And precisely because of the comparatively weak knowledge base we have in social science, few people will be able to say that your theory is simply wrong.
As you have understood by now, my plea is for development of theory and 'testing' of theories in concert with each other. And this paper is a small attempt to "push" you in that direction. I hope that you will read the books and the articles for this course from this intellectual perspective: What is hypothesised here and what is (or seems to be) shown to be the case? How can I question this or parts of this theory?
2c. The European Union, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Autumn semester 2008
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?
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
The course is composed of a mixture of lectures and seminars. The lectures address the basic themes and issues. During the seminar 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 addition, grades will be given according to European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) that is using a seven-step scale.
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.
2d. Swedish politics, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Autumn semester 2008
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.
2e. Gender, politics and citizenship, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Spring semester 2009
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 men dominate political decision-making. Also 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.
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 explanations to why there are gender differences in political participation and representation
- possess a basic understanding of different types of gender- and welfare regimes
- possess a basic understanding of the significance of gender for the content of public policies
- possess good knowledge of different feminist theories
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 addition, grades will be given according to European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), that is using a seven-step scale.
In order to pass the following is required:
1) participation in compulsory elements of the course;
2) completed the assignments
3) course paper
2f. Organisation, implementation and evaluation in public policy, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Spring semester 2009
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. In addition, grades will be given according to European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), that is using a seven-step scale.
2g. Comparative Middle East Politics, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Spring semester 2009
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 mandatory seminars. The course is taught in Swedish.
Examination takes place continuously throughout the course through written and oral assignments as well as through active participation in the seminars. The final examination consists of two parts: in addition to a written test 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.
Grades awarded include: Fail (U) - Pass (G) - Pass with Distinction (VG). In
addition, grades will be given according to European Credit Transfer
System (ECTS),that is using a seven-step scale.
Applications from students enrolled in the Programme "Orientalistprogrammet" are given preference.
2h. Tragedy of the Commons: Climate Change, Energy, and the Politics of Resource Management, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Spring semester 2009
The course has two overarching goals. The first is to deepen the students' knowledge and understanding of the 'collective action dilemma' from a social science perspective. The second goal is to acquaint the students with two crucial, and interdependent, global problems: climate change and energy. As a corollary to these two goals the course will also analyse and discuss possible political solutions to the management of climate and energy issues (as well as dilemmas over natural resources more generally). To this end, the course will examine possible solutions at the international, regional, and local levels. At the global level, emphasis will be placed on international regimes such as the Kyoto Protocol. At the regional level, the European Union's efforts to combat climate change will be examined. Lastly, the course will consider how energy and climate politics are played out in the localities of developing countries. The latter includes the confluence of state policies and norms in the local community. Upon the completion of this course the students are expected to thoroughly understand the interface between politics and the challenge of addressing environmental problems and managing limited natural resources. The intent is also to provide a good foundation 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: 1) Energy and Emissions; 2) Climate Politics in a Regional Organisation: EU and Climate Change; 3) International regimes and Climate Change; 4) Energy and Climate in Developing Countries.
The course consists of lectures, seminars, video film, and study visits to the Ångström laboratory and Uppsala Värmeverk.
The students are examined by means of (active participation in) the seminars, written seminar assignments, and a final written exam. Participation in the four seminars is a requirement to pass the course.
Grades will be given according to the scale Underkänt, Godkänt or Väl godkänt plus ECTS grading.
The assignments will be handed out at the lecture for each theme seminar. The assignments and your active participation in the seminars will be graded just according to whether you have "passed" or "not passed". The dates for the written test and re-test you will find on our web site (look for this course and its schedule).
The format of the seminars
Each seminar group will be divided into 3 sub-groups. Each sub-group will then have the task of orally introducing the topic and "leading" the discussion of the literature and the seminars assignments in one of seminars 2, 3 and 4. The introduction should be about 10 minutes (and no more than 15 minutes).
2i. International Politics, 7.5 credits 0.0 hp
Spring semester 2009
1. Course objective and learning outcomes
The aim of this course seminar is to offer a necessarily short survey of some, yet not all, sub-fields of International Relations. By the end of the seminar, students are expected to have a general sense of the field of International Relations, its traditional research focus and some of its main theories and debates. In particular, they should be able to:
1. Identify and compare the focus of several main research areas in International Relations
2. Understand approaches within these areas with regard to their underlying theories, the methodologies they employ and their usefulness for the analysis of particular problems of international politics
3. Analyse a particular problem of international politics with a research focus derived from one or more of these sub-fields in International Relations
4. Present and discuss scholarly work in the field of International Relations with their peers
2. Course content
The course identifies and analyses research within four subfields of International Relations, namely Foreign Policy Analysis, Security Studies, the study of international organisations, as well as International Political Economy.
3. Teaching and course organisation
Every teaching unit is composed of two parts stretching over two days. Students meet for a three hour seminar and for a two hour lecture, i.e. 5 hours in total. In the seminar, we discuss the readings; for the lecture, students can ask the teacher to clarify particular issues related to the readings. Additionally, but participation is here voluntarily, there will be some documentaries which are related to the topics (e.g. Cuban Missile Crisis). Students write a final paper whose deadline is usually some weeks after the last seminar. It will be presented in a common seminar workshop where each student discusses the final paper of one of his peers.
Should the seminar be overbooked, changes to the teaching organisation will apply.
4. Course requirements
1. Seminar presentation and participation (20%).
Should the seminar number allow, every student will introduce one seminar. Presenters should make a written outline (for everyone) which summarises the key points of their introduction and the main questions on which to lead the discussion.
2. Critical summaries of readings (30%)
Every week, students should submit a short position paper (1-2 pages) on which they (1) summarise the main aim and/or contribution of the assigned book to the study of IR or IPE, as well as (2) ask 4-5 questions they would like to see raised and answered during the seminar.
3. Final paper (50%)
The final paper is an in-depth discussion of one of the central debates encountered in the readings and/or a substantial critique of one of the books. Topics should be discussed with the course convenor in advance.
5. Role within the general BA education
As all upper undergraduate courses, this seminar contributes to the development of the students' general analytical and technical skills, including (1) the techniques and skills attached to critical analytical reading, as well as the written and oral communication of arguments and ideas, (2) the awareness of the underlying assumptions of different theories, and (3) their operationalisation within an autonomously conducted analysis. Yet, being the only course at a more advanced stage of the BA education it has also some particular roles. On the one hand, it wants simply to give an overview to students who, although not wanting to pursue their studies in International Relations, seek a better understanding of the study of international affairs. But its main purpose is to address the needs of those students who, after their first courses in IR, are preparing a BA thesis in International Relations and/or plan to pursue for a MA in which they wish to specialise in International Relations. The course is an almost obligatory passage point for those students within the general organisation of the BA in Political Science. For preparing these more advanced tasks, the literature choice includes a substantial theoretical component.
6. Course outline
Week 1: Introduction (2 hrs)
Week 2: Foreign Policy Analysis (3 hrs+2hrs)
*Allison, Graham T. & Philip Zelikov, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd ed, New York: Longman, 1999.
As an introduction to Foreign Policy Analysis and background article, see:
Carlsnaes, Walter (2002) 'Foreign Policy', in Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse and Beth A. Simmons (eds) Handbook of International Relations (London et al.: Sage Publications), pp. 331-349.
Week 3: Security Studies (3hrs+2hrs)
*Buzan, Barry, Ole Wæver and Jaap de Wilde (1998) Security: A New Framework for Analysis, Boulder: Lynne Rienner.
*Hansen, Lene (2000) 'The Little Mermaid's Silent Security Dilemma and the Absence of Gender in the Copenhagen School', Millennium: Journal of International Studies 29, 2, pp. 285-306.
(For a discussion of the 'Copenhagen School', see
Huysmans, Jef (1998) 'Revisiting Copenhagen, or: on the creative development of a security studies agenda in Europe', European Journal of International Relations 4, 4, pp. 479-505.
McSweeney, Bill (1999) Security, Identity and Interests: A Sociology of International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)
Week 4: The study of International Organisations (3hrs+2hrs)
Michael Barnett & Martha Finnemore (2004) Rules for the World: International Organisations in World Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press).
Week 5: International Political Economy (3hrs+2hrs)
*Susan Strange (1988) States and Markets: An Introduction to International Political Economy, New York: Basil Blackwell.
Short description of assignments
1. The basis: analytical reading
All assignments necessarily include a component which should train you to read texts analytically and to 'make the arguments your own', not in the sense of you agreeing with them, but being able to independently articulate and comment them.
There is more than one way to do this. However, the following components are almost always present.
1. First, you have to try to understand the intention and main claim of the author. 'What' is the puzzle, the unexplained, which the author wished to address? Then, what are the main arguments, what is the main thesis? By establishing the main thesis, keep in mind that academic results, although this seems sometimes hard to believe, are part of a wider communication. To whom is the argument addressed, i.e. to which literature, debate or event does it respond and wants to contribute? What is the purpose of the piece?
John Mearsheimer has published in the early 1990s an article, entitled 'Back to the Future: Instability in Europe after the Cold War'. Mearsheimer was puzzled by the Yugoslav wars, i.e. by the fact that the end of the Cold War seemed to herald peace, but brought war. His main thesis is that the end of the Cold War was not bringing more, but less stability to Europe, because certain policy-constraining effects of bipolarity no longer held.
2. After the 'what', where you try to succinctly get to the core of the argument, in a second but related step, you have to understand why the topic or argument is significant. Why should who care?
Mearsheimer's main claim has three implications. Theoretically, Mearsheimer wants to show that realist theories of IR are powerful, since their main variable (changes in the polarity of the international system) can, according to him, explain the puzzle of instability. Empirically, he made sense of the Yugoslav wars. And politically, the article suggested that it was best not to have daydreams about the post-wall system and try to contain such tendencies with force, if necessary.
3. Having established the main thesis, purpose and significance, you have to double-check whether the argument is well supported. After 'what' and 'why' comes the 'how'. This, in turn, comes in two steps. First, you have to understand whether the chosen methodology for supporting the argument is appropriate. Second, you have to assess whether the empirical and theoretical evidence can make the point the author wants them to make.
Mearsheimer's methodology is not very elaborate, since he basically makes 'good sense' arguments with some chosen historical illustration. So, you cannot much control whether the variables he isolates are well defended. In this case, you have to control whether the assumptions upon which such arguments are built, can hold. For instance, here the assumption is that international politics is generally driven by systemic forces which also explain this particular case. Moreover, the theoretical basis, here: realism, has usually been already criticised from elsewhere: how does this new case live up to former criticisms, does it respond to them? Does the approach discuss competing explanations? If not, why? If yes, how fair are the other explanations introduced and compared? Is the literature sufficiently well covered? Finally, is the empirical evidence sufficient for the claim; i.e. it is not only important to know whether the evidence is correct (or the interpretation of it reasonable), but whether the case can rest on it, which is a far more demanding requirement.
4. Finally, you have to come to a conclusion on whether the research questions asked (the problematique) is indeed significant, whether the arguments are cogent, whether they are well supported, and whether they succeed in the purpose the author has said for him/herself.
Doing these steps leads you to produce an 'inverted research design', i.e. you re-construct the research design the scholar had by reading backwards from the published result.
2. The seminar-presentation
A seminar-presentation has two purposes. First, it wants to quickly move the agenda of the seminar to the core points of the readings. Second, it wants to raise questions which can structure the discussion later.
1. For the first aim, the presentation relies on the analytical reading just mentioned and so not much more description is needed here. To restate: A presentation of a reading is not a summary of a text. The worst presentation simply restates the section headings of the readings, following them religiously. This is to be avoided at all cost. Similarly, it should be avoided to take the text title and then to invent some great personal ideas with little connection to the reading. Given the time constraints of a presentation, think about rephrasing the text in terms of a general theme or a question that you are going to answer for your public. It is well advised to think about other readings and about possible comparisons and discussions/debates between them and the text. The expression of a personal judgement (or questions), even tentative but supported by argument, is mandatory.
2. For introducing the discussion, i.e. for asking relevant questions about a text, the presenter has to make sure that his/her own choice of discussion topics is sufficiently justified. That justification can come via an internal and an external critique of the text.
An internal critique is the logical follow-up of the analytical reading, step 4. Here, the presenter raises and develops issues which are within the very research design. Such a critique is important and is, to some extent, both the 'easiest' for a commentator (since to a large extent, one does not need to think about topics much beyond the text), and often the more damaging and honest towards the author. For at least you make not sure to criticise someone for something he/she never wanted to do in the first place.
But there is also a second, external, critique. This also logically follows from the criticisms in the analytical reading and can happen at different steps. At a first step, the historical and sociological context can provide a clue not only why a scholar chooses a topic, but also the emphasis on certain factors which might seem odd in the light of later years. At a second step, if the assumptions of an argument clash, this can have something to do with the insufficiently reflected underlying ethical, political, and also meta-theoretical influences. For instance, Margaret Thatcher's famous 'There is no such a thing as a society' implies this three-fold stance in favour of individualism, as opposed to positive freedom (ethics), social-democracy (politics) and holism (meta-theory). But whereas there is no such a thing as a society when it comes to Thatcherite British Politics, apparently there was such a thing as a British nation, when she went to the Falkland war – an uneasy, if not contradictory combination of individualism and nationalism. Moreover, if the author has not sufficiently covered relevant literature and competing explanations, then an external critique can situate the piece of work with regard to this. Finally, if there seems to be a bias in the selection of the information, the author is unaware of or has not justified, then the external critique can try to find out the reasons for the bias. There can be more.
3. Important for the presentation is that these questions somewhat 'naturally' follow from the analytical reading. The presenter should, if all functions well, not need to explicitly justify the questions and comments he/she raises, since they are but the consequence of the analytical reading. This said, some questions can be of a more personal interest, because the presenter has previous experiences or knowledge which can be associated with the readings and which could become an interesting piece for discussion. There, in order to introduce it, some background justification is warranted.
Finally, and equally important, academia is not a place for the 'I-know-it-all' people. So, the obvious questions that need to be asked is about things one is not sure about. Usually other people are not sure about that either – or should not be. Hence, it is not only legitimate, but crucial that those points be raised which were not clear to the presenter, but seemed important for the argument of the reading, and hence for the seminar discussion.
The actual handout of the presentation should include a shortened version of the inverted research design and comments, as well as the questions for discussion. One can either insert comments into the discussion of the research design, or collect them after it. There is no need to have more than 4 (good) questions or so (but the list can get easily longer, if there are many things unclear. The whole should fit on one page.
3. The position paper on books
In the context of this seminar, the position paper is about 2 pages and follows roughly the analytical reading above, insisting more thoroughly on the inverted research design than in the outline for the seminar presentation.
3. Thesis, 15 credits 0.0 hp
[No translation available.]
The instruction is done in the form of lectures and seminars of varying content and disposition.
The course examination is based on active seminar participation, course papers, essay assignment and written tests.
Course level in relation to degree requirements
On completion of the course the students are expected to have deepened their knowledge within one of the sub-disciplines of political science. They will have acquired a general view, and knowledge of the current scientific debate. The students' ability to analyse, evaluate and critically examine research and to formulate their own research problems will be deepened, as well as their ability to critically discuss and present information both orally and in writing, and their ability to independently search for scientifically relevant data and information. Additional training in the skill to present their arguments orally as well as in writing in a clear and concise way, will be offered.
The awareness and knowledge of methods will be deepened, and the methodological skills required to independently raise scientific questions and to carry out simple empirical studies, will be developed. A basic awareness will be acquired concerning the possibilities and limitations of science, its role in society and the public responsibility for its use. While working with the independent project the students' ability to critically, independently and creatively identify and formulate questions will be deepened, and they will learn to plan and carry out qualified assignments within given time limits and with adequate methods, and to present and discuss the underlying conclusions and arguments, both orally and in writing. The skills required for participation in the research and development work, or for working independently in some other qualified field, will be especially developed here.