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 Department Board, 9 March 2021
Responsible department
Department of Government

Entry requirements

General entry requirements and Social Studies 1b/1a1+1a2 or Civics A

Learning outcomes

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

Be able to present and discuss:

  • the central problems in political theory
  • the political government, public administration and the main features of the 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 and 21st centuries;
  • the development of the European Union and the role of Sweden in the international arena.

Students are expected to participate actively and independently in seminar discussions and make short presentations in a seminar setting. They are also expected to produce written course papers that deal with defined research problems and in connection to that:

  • practice 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 independent conclusions drawn from the source material;
  • be familiar with the basics of source referencing.

The course is primarily based on textbooks and shorter scientific texts. The intention is to give the students an introduction to different fields of political science and to present some of the research methods used. Considerable weight is placed on making the students realize the meaning of independent and critical thinking, and equip them with the necessary tools to evaluate conclusions and arguments. Students will also practice skills as part of the course, chiefly through the writing of course papers. In the seminars the student will be given the opportunity to practice speaking and argumentative skills which are further developed within courses at more advanced levels.


The course consists of four sub-courses: Political Theory, Swedish and Comparative Politics, Public Administration, and International Politics.

Political Theory 7.5 credits

Learning Outcomes

The aim of the course is to make students acquainted with some elements of political thought and political theory. The student is to acquire the capacity to interpret and assess political ideas in an independent manner, in some cases through the reading of classic sources. On the one hand, the purpose is to try to understand what may appear strange (or insidiously familiar); on the other hand, we aim to judge the truth and fecundity of the texts and arguments that we encounter.


The course is structured by a series of lectures on political thought from Antiquity to the modern age. During the lectures, the students will encounter important political and theoretical traditions and thinkers that have shaped our understanding of the things that are considered important in political theory. In this context, some fundamental political concepts are introduced, such as state, society, political obligation, virtue, constitutionalism, democracy, liberty, justice and dignity. The lectures are intended to serve as an invitation to the students to engage and address the classic ideas and texts of political theory. Some of these are given particular attention. It must also be emphasised that the lectures provides guidelines to how one is to read the literature and deal with the seminar assignments.

The most important element of the course is to be found in the seminars and in the writing of a short scholarly text, a memo. During the seminars, the students have the task to reflect on and evaluate ideas that are not their own. This implies that the history of political thought and the interpretation of this tradition on the one hand, and normative judgements about right and wrong in political and moral issues on the other hand, are considered to belong together. The students are supposed to transcend their own horizon by trying to understand and defend different political ideas that are developed in the required reading.


The course consists of lectures, two lessons and seminars; the students prepare the lessons and the two first seminars by reading all of the required literature and reflecting on the questions that they are assigned. The students are expected to bring the literature to the seminars and to be able to look up the relevant passages that are under discussion. At a third seminar, the group discusses each student's memo.


The student needs to pass the written exam (4 hp), take part in the seminars in an active manner, and pass the group assignment for the lessons as well as the course paper written for the third seminar (3,5 hp). In order to pass the course paper, the student needs to make an argument about issues pertaining to principles and problems of interpretation based on the literature, the lectures and the seminars - in an independent manner, yet avoiding the pitfall of mere opinion.

Grades awarded for the examination: Fail (U) - Pass (G) - Pass with Distinction (VG).

Swedish and Comparative Politics 7.5 credits

Public Administration 7.5 credits

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course the students are expected to:

  • understand the role and function of the public administration;
  • have an extended comprehension of central characteristics of the Swedish public administration, i.e. have acquired a thorough familiarity of the organisation of the public administration;
  • understand the rise, organisation and significance of the Swedish Welfare state,
  • be able to interpret and apply public administration concepts, ideas, and notions on political processes and developments;
  • be able to problematise the relationship between power and responsibility within the public administration;
  • have a basic understanding of how to apply a critical perspective on the study of politics and administration.


Public administration policy is entails ideas and measures directed towards the organisation and working methods of the public sector. During the course some of these measures will be presented and discussed. The point of departure is that the success or failure of public administration policies has a decisive significance on the preparation and carrying out of other policy programs and reforms. Hence, the central focus is on classical problems within political science such as the organisation of government. Linked to this there will also be a discussion on the idea and organisation of the Swedish welfare state.The literature mainly deals with the Swedish case, but international contrasts will be made during the course.


The teaching consists of lectures, seminars and the writing of a short paper. The lectures focus the central themes of the course, and contextualise selected elements of the course literature. An interactive response system is utilized in order to encourage student activity during the lectures which necessitates a tablet, smartphone or computer during the lectures. At the seminars the students are expected to have prepared answers to the questions to be discussed. For the third seminar meeting, a paper should be submitted and subsequently discussed during the seminar. Please note that in this course the papers for the third seminar should be written in pairs. Language of instruction is Swedish.


The students are examined by means of a written exam (4 hp), participation at seminars and a short paper (3,5 hp) for the last seminar.

Grades awarded for the seminars (including the written paper): Fail (U) - Pass (G). Grades awarded for the written exam: Fail (U) - Pass (G) - Pass with distinction (VG).

International Politics 7.5 credits


The teaching consists of lectures, seminars and the writing of course papers. 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.

Additional information regarding instruction and examination will be handed out before each sub-course.


The students are assessed by means of written exams, participation at seminars and short papers. Grades are awarded according the scale "failed", "pass" or "pass with distinction". If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Other directives

This course may be included in the Bachelor's Programme in Political Sciences, the Social Science Programme as well as being a separate single subject course in a Bachelor Degree. This course can not be included in a Bachelor's Degree along with Social and Political Studies AB: Political Science 15 credits.