Political Science A

30 credits

Syllabus, Bachelor's level, 2SK009

A revised version of the syllabus is available.
Education cycle
First cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Political Science G1N
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Board of the Department of Government, 28 September 2007
Responsible department
Department of Government

Entry requirements

Sh A.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the A course in Political Science the students are expected to:

Be able to present and discuss:

  • the history of political ideas and the results of them;
  • the political government, public administration and the main features of the official political life in Sweden and other countries;
  • variations in political participation;
  • the political problems of the developing countries and new democracies;
  • the development of international politics during the 20th century;
  • the development of the European Union and the role of Sweden on the international arena. Participate actively and independently in seminar discussions and to give some short presentations of their own. Treat a defined research problem and in connection therewith:
  • have practised the application of a scientific approach to sources and source material
  • understand the value of, and bases for, good argumentation
  • be able to distinguish between theoretical literature and empirical findings
  • be able to separate personal opinions from the independent conclusions to be drawn from a source material
  • be familiar with the basics of source references.


The course consists of three parts.

The first part of the course deals with political theory. Here the basic aspects of the history of political ideas from classical antiquity to the present day are studied, as well as the political consequences of different ideologies.

The second part of the course presents the development of international politics during the 20th century including Swedish security policy, and some of the leading theories in that field. The history of the European Union, its aim, constituition and mode of operation, as well as the relationship between citizen, national state and union, are also studied.

The third part of the course Citizens, states and politics is divided into three subparts. Different forms of political influence and the state constitution from a citizen perspective are dealt with; the political government, the administration and the main outlines of political life in Sweden and other countries. The political problems of the developing countries are also treated.

Political Theory, 3 credits

The purpose of the course is to make the students acquainted with basic concepts in political theory, presented in a historical perspective. The student is trained to independently scrutinise and analyse political ideas and ideologies and to reason about relevant problems from the course literature, the lectures and the discussions in the seminar.

The course gets its character by the study of classical works in political science. The first moment of the course deals with historicism, the idea that history is predetermined, from, Plato to modern Communism (Marx), National Socialism (Hitler) and Liberalism (Fukuyama). The state of democracy after the fall of the Berlin wall is analysed. The second moment starts the discussion on the theory of interest, the idea that what happens instead depends on the rational choice of various actors pursuing their interests (Epicurus, Machiavelli, Hobbes and Locke). The theory of interest is further developed in the theory of the general will, that is the idea that the common good sometimes is something different from the short term interests of individuals (Rousseau). In addition, game theory is introduced. The theory of interest gets it modern form in the concept of the citizen: democracy is a school in civic education (Mill). Economic voting, electoral participation and distrust in politicians are discussed. The political theory of Islam is analysed in the next lecture and is compared with the Western tradition. The final moment deals with problems in modern political theory such as procedural democracy (Dahl), the concept of ideology (Tingsten) and the object of political science (Skocpol).

Questions to be discussed, should be prepared for the seminar meetings by the students.

Active participation in seminars is required. For the third seminar meeting, a paper of two to four pages should be submitted. Grading is based on the student's ability to reason about relevant problems from the course literature, the lectures and the discussions in the seminar.

The course is linked to higher levels. There, the theories of good governance and procedural democracy as well as game theory and rational choice are further developed.

International Politics, 3 credits


This course shall provide students with an overview and enhanced understanding of international politics in general and Swedish foreign policy in particular. The course is designed to provide students with opportunities to develop basic communication (speaking, writing, seminar participation), research, and analytical skills. The course shall prepare students for intermediate (B) studies in this subfield and contribute to preparing students for higher levels studies and qualified employment.


The course emphasises the development of international politics during the last century and beyond, with a special focus on the Swedish and European experience. A number of central theoretical traditions and perspectives on international politics are introduced including some or all of the following: realism, liberalism, structuralism, constructivism, gender. In addition key problems and processes of international politics such as security, conflict, cooperation, (international) organisation, integration, and foreign policymaking will be presented.


The instruction for this course consists of lectures and seminars. Students are expected to submit answers to study questions to the seminar leader (instructor) some days prior to the seminar.


Active participation in seminars is required. For the third seminar meeting, a paper of two to four pages should be submitted. Grading is based on the student's ability to reason about relevant problems from the course literature, the lectures and the discussions in the seminar.

Written exam I, 6 credits

Written examination in Political Theory and International Politics.

Citizens, State and Politics, 3 credits


The objectives for this basic level course are to provide students with an orientation in the basic terminology, theories and methods within central areas of political science research as well as the presentation of research results from several essential research fields such as: democratisation processes; political parties; political participation and political culture; institutions and their effects; implementation and reforms. It is intended that this course should be broad, with the objectives of providing students with elementary political science knowledge and skills which will create the basis for later continuation and specialisation courses within a number of areas. The aim is to train and develop the students' own analytical and reflection skills through both the participation in seminar discussions and the production of short analytical texts in collaboration with others.


This course is based on a holistic perspective of politics and political systems and has the expressed aim of being comparative. With its starting points in citizens' roles, political culture and political participation the course focuses on democracy and democratisation processes, the organised citizen society in the form of political parties, and interest groups together with other channels of influence such as the media. The course then examines political institutions by examining the roles of the legislative and executive branches of government as well as the construction of the state and the implementation of policy. The final area is the politics of the welfare state where welfare policy and reforms are examined in a comparative perspective. The course concentrates on empirical data using examples from states in different areas of the world as well as Sweden. The course has a broad focus and introduces politics and political problems in the advanced industrial societies, post-communist Europe and developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Among its other themes, this course pays particular attention to the European Union. The course comprises the first, and ground level step on a ladder of developing knowledge, where the themes that have been introduced in this course will return at the higher levels. At the B-level there is a further degree of specialisation concerning democracy and democratisation with the course "The problems of democracy", at the C-level there is a further specialisation in citizen politics and at the Masters Level there is in-depth specialisation in comparative politics and political institutions.


The teaching is given in the form of lectures and seminars. In addition there may be additional lectures by guest lecturers concerning topical empirical or theoretical themes.


The students are required to display active participation in the seminars given and to submit written assignments.

Specialisation in relation to examination requirements:

The course is based, in the main, on textbooks and some shorter scientific texts, while the later levels introduce research books and other more advanced scientific reports. Here there is an ambition to give students a first introduction to different research traditions within political science and a variety of different methods used to examine political science issues. Most weight is placed upon creating an understanding of what an independent critical approach consists of, i.e. giving students instruments and tools to improve their abilities for evaluating conclusions and arguments (criticism of source material, importance of methods, definition and choice of theories and hypotheses etc.). When it comes to skill development, this course places the most emphasis on training the writing skills by means of submitting written reports for each seminar and a final course paper; the development and training of oral presentation skills follow at the C and Master levels.

Course paper, 4.5 credits

The students are expected to produce a jointly authored course paper, connected to the course literature for Citizens, State and Politics but with free choice of subject, as well as acting as both respondent and opponent at course paper seminars.

Written exam II, 10.5 credits

Written examination for Citizens, State and Politics.


The teaching consists of lectures, seminars and the writing of a course paper. Questions to be discussed, should be prepared for the seminar meetings by the students. Active participation in seminars is required. Grading is based on the student's ability to reason about relevant problems from the course literature, the lectures and the discussions in the seminar.


The students are examined by means of written exams, participation at seminars and a final paper concluding each course.

Course level in relation to degree requirements

The course is primarily based on course literature and some shorter scientific texts. At the following levels research books and more advanced scientific reports are introduced. The intention is to give the students an introduction to different research fields of political science and to present some of the research methods used. Much weight is placed on making the students realise what independent and critical thinking means, and to equip them with the necessary tools to evaluate conclusions and arguments. Concerning skills practice the most important thing in this course is the development of the writing ability in the form of written seminar reports and final papers in the different sub-courses. The first opportunity to practise the speaking ability is given during the seminars and is then further developed at the C and Master's levels.

Other directives

This course may be included in the Master Programme in Political Sciences, the Social Science Programme as well as being a separate full-time course in a Bachelor Degree.