Political Science B

30 credits

Syllabus, Bachelor's level, 2SK059

A revised version of the syllabus is available.
Education cycle
First cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Political Science G1F
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Faculty Board of Social Sciences, 24 January 2007
Responsible department
Department of Government

Entry requirements

Political science basic level.


1. The Problems of Democracy, 10.5 credits


The course introduces some fundamental problems of democracy from a political science perspective. The aim is to make it possible for the students to develop a considered judgement on theoretical and empirical questions regarding democratic government. The course is intended to give deeper insights on themes which have been introduced earlier at the Political Science A, basic course, within the fields of Political Theory and Comparative Politics.

The ambition is to educate students with the ability to discuss ideas on democracy as well as empirical research on a fairly advanced level. In practice this means that the students- aided by the course topics described below - will be able to take the leap from arguing from limited personal views to constructing systematic, well-founded arguments for and against ideas and empirical suggestions made by others. In short, the aim is to provide tools and inspiration that enable the students to try their wings on an advanced analytical level, and in doing this we focus on this process of thought rather than on the actual result.


The course consists of three parts:

The first part deals with normative democratic theory. The three lectures cover conceptual issues about the meaning of democracy, normative questions about the justification of democracy, and problems and solutions within different traditions in democratic theory:

1) Which are the problems and solutions within democratic theory?

2) How do we define democracy?

3) What is good about democracy?

The seminar focuses on the feminist challenge to traditional democratic theory. The papers are written in pairs.

The second part of the course deals mainly with empirical questions concerning the development, the spread, the causes and the effects of democracy:

4) How can we describe the spread of democracy in time and space?

5) What can explain why only some states are democracies?

6) Does democracy matter for peace and welfare?

The seminar deals with the opinion that democracy functions at its best when it is not taken too seriously. The papers are written individually.

The topic of the third part of the course is constitutional aspects of democracy. The lectures present different constitutional traditions, the alternatives with respect to electoral system and forms of government, and the consequences of the constitution on politics and economic welfare:

7) What are the options when constructing a constitutional democracy?

8) Does the constitution matter for politics and welfare?

The seminar is arranged as a practice in constitutional decision-making. The papers, written by groups of 3-4 members, will be the material dealt with at the final constitutional convent.


Each part of the course starts with two or three lectures, continues with the writing of a short paper, and concludes with a seminar. The course also includes a constitutional convent.


The examination is based on the three seminar papers (to be written individually, in pairs and by groups) together with a concluding exam. Participation in the constitutional convent is compulsory. The three seminars and the exam are given equal weight for grading. In order to pass one must pass all parts of the course together with the exam.

Specialisation in relation to degree requirements

The basic objective of this course - the first at the B level - is for the students to develop their reading skills and to analyse political science texts both orally and in writing. The course enables the students to reflect upon the requirements for participation in a scientific discussion. Special attention is thereby given to the ability of reporting the thoughts of others in an analytical and concise way, the need for a self-governed concept formation - an instrument of analysis - for the identification and comparison of different ideas, and the importance of dealing with relevant objections in order to support one's own thesis.

2 a) Studying World Politics in the 21st Century: Enduring & Contemporary Issues: International Politics B, 6 credits

Course Goals (expected results):

The overarching goal of this course is to impart how the fundamental concepts, theoretical approaches, and methods from International Relations and social science can be applied to make sense of and study world politics and global affairs. The course also aims to help students develop a set of general skills—the ability to think critically, analyse information, and express themselves orally and in writing—that will serve them well in their future educational and professional endeavours.

Course content / Course description

This course provides students with a deeper knowledge of the conceptual and theoretical tools used in the study of world politics. The course also examines a number of enduring and contemporary topics in international relations, such as international cooperation, security issues, globalisation, international political economy, and humanitarian intervention. The course concludes with a role-playing game where students have the opportunity to apply the concepts they have learned by engaging in simulated international negotiations. Students are recommended to take this course prior to the Advanced International Relations (C) course. (The language of instruction is English).


The instruction of this course is comprised of a combination of lectures and seminars. The course also includes a simulation (role-playing) exercise.


● Mandatory attendance and active participation in the seminars and simulation exercise.

● Two written assignments.

● Written Test (Final examination).

Contribution to Degree Requirements

This class serves as the intermediate level course within the subdiscipline of International Politics. The completion of this course with a passing grade should serve as useful preparation for the advanced course in International Politics (C level) course. Upon the successful completion of this course, students are awarded 7.5 units towards their undergraduate degree requirements.


Eligibility for B level university course work. Note: The language of instruction for this course is English.

2 b) Swedish politics and public administration, 6 credits


On completion of the course, the students are expected to have gained:

- a deeper understanding of how central institutions in the Swedish political system, e.g. the electoral system, the role of interest organisations, and the lack of division of power, interact and how they influence an important policy area.

- factual knowledge of how the Swedish welfare state has been organised, why these particular structures have developed and which effects they have.

- a basic ability to read scientific literature. They are for example expected to have an understanding of what theories and hypotheses are, of the importance of the methodological choices to be made when doing research, and a basic understanding about what research is.


At the intersection of politics and public administration there is the welfare state. At the comparison with other countries the extensive welfare state is usually the principal characteristic of Sweden. In other words, it is the "universality" of the welfare state that is usually in focus, and this concept is also the focus of the course. Recent theories in the field of institutional politics use this institutional order as a starting point and have thereby shed light on some central aspects of Swedish politics.

The following three themes are dealt with in the course, each one treated in a special seminar:

1) What explains the origin of an institution? Here we will, among other things, analyse the dominance of social democracy in Swedish politics.

2) What are the effects of an institution today? Does the universal welfare state create a political support system of its own?

3) A critical scrutiny of the institution: Is the Swedish welfare model really universal? How does one discuss universal welfare from a normative standpoint?


The student's own readings will be supported by lectures and seminars. The lectures will treat the central parts of the course and put into context the chosen course literature. At the seminars the students will discuss issues relating to the main themes of the course.

The basic book for the course is Bo Rothstein's Vad bör staten göra? In addition, there will be articles and excerpts from other books.


The course is completed by a written examination and by the active participation in the compulsory seminars. It is mandatory for the students to prepare themselves well for the group sessions. These preparations should consist of individual study as well as smaller group meetings without the teacher. In addition to studying the arguments of the different authors, the students are expected to make a creative work contribution of their own, as well as some new collection of material. There may also be some shorter hand-in assignments in the course.

The examinations are graded on a three-part scale: Pass with distinction (VG), Pass (G) and Fail(U). To pass the course, the student is required to participate actively in the compulsory seminars and to pass the final written exam. Accordingly, for the course grade of "Pass with distinction" the student is required to obtain that grade on both the written exam and the seminar activities.

Specialisation in relation to examination requirements

The students are expected to increase their ability to understand and critically analyse political science texts, to contribute actively with their own views during scientific discussions, and to give oral presentations of the knowledge they have acquired.

3. Methods, 6 credits


The objective of the course is to provide basic knowledge of scientific methods. Its purpose is to offer a first introduction to practical research as well as to develop a critical understanding of the way in which choices of method affect study design as well as results. The emphasis of the course is on basic methodological concepts and qualitative methods. However, it also underlines the common principles on which qualitative as well as quantitative approaches are based. The course offers a discussion of the nature of research problems in political science, of how scientific studies can be designed, of various kinds of sources and methods of data collection, and of the analysis of political ideas.


After completing the course, students are expected to:

- be able to recognise and formulate an appropriate research question in political science

- be able to relate a research question to relevant literature in political science

- be able to distinguish between descriptive, explanatory, and evaluative studies

- understand the basics of different descriptive, explanatory, and evaluative methods, in particular comparative methods

- understand the need to define concepts, theoretically and empirically

- be acquainted with different strategies of generalisation and understand the meaning of the concept of generalisation

- understand the difference between primary sources, secondary sources, and literature

- be aware of the most important methods of data collection in the social sciences

- be acquainted with some important methods of textual analysis

- have a basic understanding of how to apply methods of textual analysis

- have basic knowledge of how to evaluate sources from a reliability and validity point of view

- be able to discuss academic texts from a methodological point of view


Teaching consists of a combination of lectures, literature studies, seminars and exercises. The students' own efforts in the form of creative thinking, information search, and paper-writing are central elements of the course.


Examination is based on seminar participation and exercises. A written exam may also be used.

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 mandatory seminars and solve all exercises in a satisfactory manner

- reach at least the grade G (pass) on the written exam if employed

Progress in Relation to the Requirements for the Degree

After completing the course, students are expected to have sufficient knowledge and skills to formulate research questions and to conduct and assess basic empirical research of a qualitative kind in an independent fashion.

4. Essay course, 7.5 credits

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 in the form of seminars. This essay assignment should train the student to distinguish and define a political science problem, 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 become familiar with the appropriate methods for surveying the existing research on the issue, as well as gathering adequate data. The student should hereby gain concrete experience of different investigation methods and learn how these can be used to solve the various tasks of a research project. Furthermore the course should make the student understand the value of analysing the design of different research tasks, and to constructively consider the views of others.

The course requirement is to independently carry out a minor investigation chosen by the student himself and set up in consultation with a tutor. The work is normally done in pairs and with the support of a tutor. The research is accounted for at a final seminar by an oral presentation, but above all, by a written paper. Another important part is for the students to analyse and to reflect together upon the design of different types of research tasks; the ones used by the student himself as well as those of his fellow students. At the final seminar the authors are expected to reflect orally upon and answer questions about their own investigation. Furthermore each student shall initiate the discussion about at least one other paper by acting as opponent, as well as actively participating in discussions on the other papers presented in the same seminar group.

The teaching is done in several different forms. Some of the basic knowledge needed for the essay work is presented in the form of lectures. The students' essay ideas are presented and discussed in group seminars. The focus of the teaching is on personal instruction adapted to the need of each student, individually or in a group form. At the end of the course the essays are presented and discussed in the seminar form. On this occasion the students are given the opportunity to evaluate the different types of projects and how they have been carried out from beginning to end, and what conclusions can be drawn from the specific problems dealt with in the process.

The examination is done by an introductory seminar which is obligatory, as well as the presentation and discussion of essays in the seminar form where the course participants take active part in the roles as opponent, respondent or seminar participant. At this examination the main important thing is the quality of the essay concerning the precision of the problem to be studied, reference to previous studies, the application of the chosen method, and finally how well supported and clear the conclusions are. Creativity and analytical precision are especially qualifying. Oral contributions at the final seminar are also counted in for the examination.

The course contributes to giving the student the knowledge and understanding of the basic methodological questions of social science. The skills being taught and practised include the ability to independently identify, formulate and deal with a political science problem; the ability to define and carry out an assignment within a given time limit; the ability to report and to discuss information, problems and solutions, orally as well as in writing; the ability to work independently with research problems and various investigation assignments.