Reviewing a Research Field

7.5 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 2FK052

A revised version of the syllabus is available.
Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Peace and Conflict Studies A1N
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Department Board, 10 August 2017
Responsible department
Department of Peace and Conflict Research

Entry requirements

Fulfilment of the requirements for a Bachelor's degree with a social science subject as the main field of study.

Learning outcomes

After completion of this course the student is expected to be able to:

  • distinguish between different theoretical perspectives
  • identify theories and empirical results within a field of research
  • use theoretical perspectives to clarify the often implicit basic assumptions within a field of research
  • present and fruitfully structure a discussion on the theories and empirical results in a way that combines precision with readability
  • Independently delimit, design and write a literature review within the specified time limit


This course trains students in writing an advanced review of theory and evidence within a specific research field. Such a review is a necessary ingredient in a Master's thesis, as it demonstrates to what extent the student is able to identify the most important works, trends and debates within a certain field and how these relate to the specific focus of the student’s own paper. The skills acquired in this course are also very useful in many professional activities involving analytical tasks. Summarizing and identifying the boundaries of knowledge is, for example, a key skill when preparing policy options.

The course provides students the opportunity to acquire and train skills and knowledge on how to independently assess the state of knowledge within a given narrow field of research. In workshops and supervision sessions the students are trained to identify fields of research and they are encouraged to select a field closely linked to their Master's thesis. The students acquire skills in criti­cally summarizing and presenting theories and results, including being able to identify the basic assumptions within a field of research. In addition, the students will be assisted by a research librarian to train their skills on how to make literature searches using various data bases, including achieving an increased awareness of the importance of search criteria. Finally, the students are trained to use professional techniques of oral presentations and will also test their skills in a mock policy conference.


Instruction/teaching is given in the form of work-shops and seminars. The main body of literature for the course consists of the texts – primarily university press books and peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles – identified by the student as constituting the research field. It is expected that approx. 6-10 texts published primarily during the past few years will be reviewed by the student. Occasionally, older texts can also be included depend­ing on the students’ choice of analytical framework for the review.

On top of this a series of texts will be used throughout the course to highlight key skills in re­view writing and presenting publishable texts. These are all accessible through the library’s article databases. We will also read and discuss previous students’ papers as other examples of reviews.


The examination consists of:

  • A final course memo in the form of a written academic paper/literature review of about 4,000-5,000 words
  • Presentation of the contents of the literature review in class
  • Active contribution to joint discussions during workshops and seminars
  • Two retake opportunities are offered every year the course is given

Grades: Pass with Distinction (VG), Pass (G) and Fail (U).