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 Board of the Department of Government, 7 May 2010
Responsible department
Department of Government

Entry requirements

Political science basic level.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course the student is expected to

- with some degree of competence discuss and work with political science problems within the sub-fields of Political Theory, Comparative Politics, Administrative Politics and Swedish or International Politics respectively

- have formed a considered judgement of his own in both theoretical and empirical questions concerning the democratic rule and, in this respect, be able to analyse and discuss ideas and empirical research findings about democracy at a fairly advanced level

- discuss the choice of method and design (case studies, comparative method, idea analysis) in a problem perspective

- write a short essay within a chosen problem area, in collaboration with other students; discuss and defend this essay at a seminar and also discuss another student's essay and the contribution it makes

- actively participate in seminar discussions and make presentations of articles and of his own work.


The course is divided into four parts.

The first sub-course deals with the problems of democracy. Normative questions concerning the concept of democracy, arguments for and against democracy, the relationship between democracy, constitutionalism and efficiency, and the relationship between democracy and feminism, are brought up here. In the second part mainly empirical questions about the prerequisites for democracy as well as its spread, causes and effects are treated.

The second part of the course offers a choice between three sub-courses: International Politics, Swedish Politics and Administration and Political Theory.

The course in International Politics gives deeper knowledge of the conceptual and theoretical tools to be used within the study of International Politics and brings up a number of basic problems within this field of research. The course concludes with a simulation exercise (role-play) where the students may put their theoretical knowledge into practice through participation in simulated international negotiations.

The sub-course in Swedish Politics and Administration focuses on the policy process and treats the welfare state which is found at the intersection of politics and administration. At the comparison between Sweden and other countries it is the extensive welfare state which is usually brought forward. The universalism of the welfare state is said to be Sweden's most distinctive feature and it is also the main focus of this course.

The course Political theory consists of three parts; The first gives an overview of modern political theories, the second part focus on theories of international justice and the third part focus on feminism and multiculturalism.

The third sub-part offers basic knowledge in scientific method. The students get a first introduction to empirical research and to the way in which different choices of method affect the realisation and results of a research project. The focus of the course is on basic methodological concepts and qualitative methods.

The B-course ends with an essay assignment. It consists of the independent realisation of a minor project chosen by the student and set up in consultation with an advisor. The work is done in pairs with the support of an advisor and is presented orally at a final seminar, but also in the form of a written essay.

1. The Problems of Democracy, 7.5 credits

Learning outcomes

The course introduces some fundamental problems of democracy from a political science perspective. The aim is to equip students with the ability to independently analyse the central theoretical and empirical questions regarding democratic government. The course builds on themes introduced during Political Science A, within the fields of Political Theory and Comparative Politics.

The ambition is to equip students with the ability to discuss ideas about democracy as well as empirical research at a fairly advanced level. In practice, this means that the students - aided by the course topics described below - make the leap from arguing from a limited and personal point of view, to constructing more general, systematic and well-founded arguments.

More precisely, after completing the course the students are expected to:

- be able to discuss and compare various conceptions of democracy.

- be able to describe and evaluate the historically most important arguments for and against democracy.

- know, and be able to employ and critically review some of the most common explanations of democratisation.

- know how democracy in general, and its constitutional structure in particular, affects various political and economic outcomes.

- be able to argue for or against ideas and theses in a systematic and well-founded manner, orally as well as in writing.


The course consists of three parts:

The first part deals with normative democratic theory. It covers conceptual issues concerning the meaning of democracy, normative questions about the justification of democracy, and the problems and solutions that have been offered within different traditions in democratic theory. We cover issues such as:

What are the main problems within democratic theory? What solutions have been suggested?

How do we define democracy? What is good about democracy? What is the significance of granting various interests and groups political representation?

The second part of the course deals mainly with empirical questions concerning democracy's development, spread, and causes: How should we describe the spread of democracy in time and space? What explains why some states are democracies while others are not? What are the preconditions for global democracy?

The third part of the course deals with the political and economic consequences of democracy. The constitutional design of democracies is emphasised: Does democracy matter for peace and welfare? What impact does constitutional design have on political and economic outcomes, such as party systems, political participation, the size of the public sector and corruption?


This course consists of lectures are and seminars. Attendance at all seminars is mandatory, while attendance at lectures is voluntary. The course is divided into three parts. Course lectures aim to introduce the main points covered in each part. The seminars aim to develop the students' analytical skills through discussion in smaller groups. Before each seminar, all students will be required to prepare answers to a set of questions, individually and/or in groups. These prepared answers will be discussed during the seminars. This way, the seminars should provide opportunities for the students to continuously reflect on the content of the course, and work together to highlight the practical importance of theoretical ideas that are introduced throughout the course.


The course ends with an exam, which serves both as basis for grading, and an opportunity for the student to rehearse the content of the course.

The grading system is VG Pass with distinction', G Pass' and U Fail'.

To pass' the class, the student is required to

-participate actively in the seminars

-pass' the final exam

Specialisation in relation to degree requirements

This sub-course is intended to develop the students' ability to read and analyse -- both orally and in writing -- political science texts. The course encourages students to reflect on the requirements for participation in a scientific discussion. Special attention is thereby given to the ability of reporting the ideas of others in an analytical and concise way, the need for concept formation in the identification and comparison of different ideas, and the importance of dealing with relevant objections when attempting to support one's own argument.

2a. Political Theory, 7.5 credits

Learning outcomes

Students are expected to learn the main theories in contemporary normative political philosophy, in particular theories of justice. They should be able to analyse them from a critical point of view and to formulate their own independent arguments for and against the theories studied. They should also be able to relate fundamental theories of justice to theories of international justice, to theories of gender equality and multiculturalism. Finally, the students are expected to apply abstract normative thinking to practical political problems.

After completing the course the students are expected to

- be informed about the modern scientific debate in normative political theory in general, and about the discussion on justice in particular.

- apply theories of justice to issues of international justice

- apply theories of justice to issues of gender equality and multiculturalism.

- independently identify and discuss political conflicts, related to different normative principles 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 in writing and orally, clearly and systematically.


This course consists of three parts. In the first part we focus on various liberal theories (Utilitarianism, Rawls' and Nozick's) and their critics - Marxism, Communitarianism and Feminism. The main book is Will Kymlicka's Contemporary Political Philosophy.

The second part concerns theories of international justice and the problem of global warming. The main book here is Peter Singer's One World – The Ethics of Globalisation. We also read an article by Simon Caney, where he gives a broad overview of different theories of international distributive justice, and an article by Thomas Nagel, where he defends a non-cosmopolitan conception of international justice.

The third part deals with theories of multiculturalism and feminism. Here we read Susan Moller Okin's, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women and ch. 8 and 9 in Kymlicka's book.


The course is given both for Swedish students and exchange students. The lectures are given in English. The seminar discussions will be in Swedish and English.


The course ends with a written test. The exam is marked according to the Swedish standard (U-G-VG). Half of the maximum points are required to pass the test. The questions can be answered in English or in Swedish. Active participation in each of the seminars is also required. The students should prepare written answers to the seminar questions.

2b. Swedish Politics and Public Administration, 7.5 credits

2c. International Politics, 7.5 credits

Learning outcomes

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. The language of instruction for this course is English.


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

- Two written assignments.

- Written Test (Final examination).

Grades awarded Fail (U) - Pass (G) - Pass with Distinction (VG).

Other information

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.

3. Methods, 6 credits


The objective of the course is to provide basic knowledge of scientific methods within political science. 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 different methods of analysis.


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

- have a basic understanding of how to apply methods of textual analysis and how to interpret ideological texts

- 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 readings are books, articles and practical examples. The knowledge gained through reading the literature is deepened through various methods assignments. The students' own efforts in doing the exercises and paper-writing are central elements of the course.


Examination is based on seminar participation, exercises and a written exam.

Grades awarded Fail (U) - Pass (G) - Pass with Distinction (VG).

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.


After completing this sub-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, 9 credits

Learning outcomes

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.


Grades awarded Fail (U) - Pass (G) - Pass with Distinction (VG).

Progress in Relation to the Requirements for the Degree

This sub-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.


The teaching is given in the form of lectures, seminars, simulation exercise, course papers, method exercises as well as individual guidance.


The course examination is based on seminar participation, course papers, an exam and an essay assignment.

Course level in relation to degree requirements

The students will develop their ability to critically analyse, understand and deal with, both orally and in writing, some relatively advanced texts from the central research fields of political science. The course gives the students an opportunity to reflect upon the requirements of a scientific discussion. Special attention is thereby given to the art of conveying the thoughts of others in an analytically meaningful way; the need for a concept formation of one's own – an instrument of analysis – for the characterisation and comparison of different ideas, and the importance of dealing with relevant critique in order to support one's own thesis. The student is expected to contribute actively with his own views, and there will be practice in oral presentations of the acquired knowledge.

On completion of the course the student is expected to have obtained the necessary knowledge and competence to define research problems as well as carrying out and assessing empirical studies of a simple but yet qualitative kind. The course thereby provides the student with the knowledge and understanding of some basic methodological questions in the field of social science. The skills practiced include the competence to identify, formulate and seek answers to political science problems; the ability to define and carry out an assignment within given time limits; the ability to present and discuss information, problems and solutions, orally as well as in the written form; the ability to work independently with research problems and various project assignments.

Other directives

The course may be included in several Bachelor Degree Programmes.