Political Science: Global Politics as Social Science


Syllabus for students autumn 2021, autumn 2020

Course Code:
GP616L revision 1.3
Swedish name:
Statsvetenskap: Global politik som samhällsvetenskap
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Political Science
Date of ratification:
20 May 2020
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
31 August 2020
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
26 August 2019

Entry requirements

A Bachelor’s Degree equivalent to 180 credits within Social Science (e.g., Political Science, Peace and Conflict Studies, International Relations, International Political Economy, Human Rights or a related major field). English B/6


The purpose of this course is to provide students with a good understanding of key concepts for and approaches to the study of Global Politics as a social science. A complimentary purpose is to introduce the students to the thematic focus and structure of the programme as a whole. It introduces students from diverse academic backgrounds within the Social Sciences to the field of Global Politics, as well as covers core theoretical and empirical topics.


How should Global Politics be understood as a social science, one that is primarily based in Political Science, but that is also highly interdisciplinary as it draws upon International Relations, Human Rights, and Peace & Conflict Studies? The course addresses this central question through five modular components, which are as follows:
Module 1: Introduction to Global Politics (4 credits).
Module 2: Visions of Global Politics (6.5 credits)
Module 3: The Sovereign State and Beyond (6.5 credits)
Module 4: Multi-level Governance and Transnational Policy (6.5 credits)
Module 5: Norms and Ideas in Global Politics (6.5 credits)

The first module, ‘Introduction to Global Politics’, offers a broad overview of the varied approaches to research covered within the programme, outlines what is meant by the field of ‘Global Politics’, as well as working to strengthen students’ core study skills to ensure they are better able to manage the programme.
The second module, ‘Visions of Global Politics’, seeks to unpack the historically and culturally conditioned world views that influence ways of conceptualizing issues pertaining to globalization; and how these themes can provide a critical and fresh understanding of what ‘Global Politics’ can mean and how it intersects with societal change on different unit levels, analysing key developments and concepts.
The third module, ‘The Sovereign State and Beyond’, focuses on the ‘nation state’ as a political concept, both as a theoretical and an empirical phenomena. Its emergence is commonly (though not uncontroversially) dated to the Treaties of Westphalia (1648), and has largely formed the basic unit of international politics for the last three centuries. However, its hegemony as a form of governance has varied in different parts of the world. Even in its original Western context, the notion of state sovereignty is increasingly being challenged by the pressures of globalization, transnational migration and new forms of governance through international organizations. This module examines the early emergence of the sovereign state and its characteristics; discusses the effect of globalization and international governance structures on sovereignty; and concludes by critically examining these concepts in the context of the 21st century world.
The fourth module, ‘Multi-level Governance and Transnational Policy’, focuses on phenomena such as policy convergence and policy transfer between different levels in the international system, e.g. from the local to regional or global levels, and the role of international organizations and transnational networks in their actualization. The module considers theories of cross-border policy mobility and contrasts orthodox rational-actor approaches with more critical interpretations that highlight power relations and the construction of knowledge. In addition, the course encourages students to recognise that their future careers may potentially involve a policy-influencing role (i.e. legislation, advocacy, providing expert-advice) and to think about how their current studies and knowledge operate as an ‘evidence base’ in the policy world.
The fifth module, ‘Norms and Ideas in Global Politics’, introduces students to two concepts central to much of the literature covered in the programme. Norms and ideas matter in global politics. Perhaps more so than at the national level because the lack of a clear authority means that questions of power and governance are much more contested. The precise role norms and ideas play is itself a highly debated question. Are they devices utilized by interest-driven actors to advance their particular objectives, or do they play a role in creating those interests which drive actors? Where do we place norms and ideas in our attempts to model political behaviour at the global level? This module approaches the role of norms and ideas in global politics from a broad perspective, asking what is meant by ‘norms’ and similar ideational phenomena and what they bring to our analysis of global politics. It also asks if the ideational domain can be truly separated from the material (e.g. economic distribution, military weapons, ecological depletion).
Where beneficial to the programme’s aims, the modules may run concurrently.

Learning outcomes

After completing module 1 (Introduction to Global Politics) the student shall be able to:
(1) Identify and critically analyse key scientific concepts in the field of Global Politics with a focus on how knowledge of global politics is conceptualized in the field. Students should also be able to seek and find relevant material in the library and its online data bases.
(2) Utilise established academic practices from Political Science and related fields in writing texts, particularly in relation to structure, clarity, presentation and the referencing of sources.
(3) Outline the key methodological approaches utilized by scholars conducting research in the field of Global Politics.

After completing module 2 (Visions of Global Politics) the student shall be able to:
(4) Critically discuss the different interpretations of global politics and how these can provide diverse consequences for the political, cultural, social and societal visions that are politically viable.
(5) Demonstrate a critical, scientific approach to the study of visions of global politics.
(6) Summarise the text of current research in the area, demonstrating a good academic ability.
(7) Clearly present their own analysis of the current research.

After completing module 3 (The Sovereign State and Beyond) the student shall be able to:
(8) Analyse and critically discuss contemporary theories of the nation state, the Westphalian system and political governance at several levels.
(9) Critically discuss and independently investigate how and why states cooperate through international organizations.
(10) Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of governance that challenges traditional notions of sovereignty.
(11) Show how empirical data can be used to develop scientific, theoretical explanations or interpretations of how political systems change.

After completing module 4 (Multi-level Governance and Transnational Policy) the student shall be able to:
(12) Critically discuss, compare and evaluate current theories of multi-level governance and transnational policy.
(13) Analyze how international organizations and transnational networks contribute to policymaking.
(14) Independently collect and critically process empirical data on multi-level governance and transnational policy.
(15) Use case study methodology to analyse how multi-level governance and transnational policies affect global politics in certain areas.

After completing module 5 (Norms and Ideas in Global Politics) the student shall be able to:
(16) Demonstrate knowledge of alternative approaches to how norms and ideas are used to study empirical phenomena relevant to Global Politics.
(17) Outline the development over time of norms and their function on a local, national, and international level.
(18) Utilize operationalisation of norms and ideas as a means to study both change and continuity within global politics.
(19) Critically discuss the relationship between actors and structures with respect to norms.

Learning activities

Teaching takes place in lectures and seminars. In addition to their attendance students are also expected to spend substantial time on studying the course literature and in preparation of work for assessment.


The student’s performance is assessed through a combination of examinations, course papers, and oral group assignments.
ILOs 1-2 are evaluated through a course paper.
ILO 3 is evaluated through an oral group presentation.
ILOs 4-7 are evaluated through a portfolio consisting of a take-home exam and five small essays connected to specific seminar topics/readings.
ILOs 8-11 are evaluated through a portfolio including 1-2 written papers.
ILOs 12-15 are evaluated through a portfolio consisting of a written paper and case study reports.
ILOs 16-19 are evaluated through a course paper.

Assessment also includes active attendance at lectures and seminars.
Students who do not pass the regular course assessments have the minimum of two re-sit opportunities based on the same course content and evaluative framework. Students also have the right to take assessments on the same course in future terms according to the same principal. Assessments and re-sits take place in accordance with the dates stated in the course schedule. It is the individual student’s responsibility to inform themselves about where and when a re-sit assessment will take place and to contact the department for registration if this is necessary.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Module 1
  • Roselle, L. and S. Spray (2011) Research and Writing in International Relations (Second edition) (London: Pearson).
  • Jackson, P. T. (2016) The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations: Philosophy of Science and Its Implications for the Study of World Politics (Second edition) (Abingdon: Routledge). FIRST EDITION AVAILABLE ONLINE VIA MAH LIBRARY
  • Halperin, S. & O. Heath (2012) Political Research - Methods and Practical Skills (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Module 2
  • O’Byrne, D. J. & A. Hensby (2011). Theorizing Global Studies (New York, NY: Palgrave).
  • Additional literature, including articles, will be added to each lecture. Students will be informed via the Canvas digital platform.
Module 3
  • Pierson, C. (2012) The Modern State (Third edition) (London: Routledge).
  • Barnett, M. and M. Finnemore (2004) Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics. (New York: Cornell UP).
Module 4
  • Triandafyllidou, A., (ed.) (2017) Global Governance from regional perspectives: a critical view (Oxford: Oxford University Press) (e-book)
Module 5
  • Cooper, D. (2014) Everyday Utopias – The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces (Durham: Duke University Press).
  • Miller, R. and G. Day (2012) (eds) The Evolution of European Identities – Biographical Approaches (Basingstoke: Palgrave).
  • Seabrooke, L. (2006) The Social Sources of Financial Power (Ithaca: Cornell University Press).
Additional material in the form of journal articles and other literature will be added to the reading list and communicated via detailed module guides accessible after registration.

Course evaluation

At the completion of the course students are given the possibility to provide written and oral feedback. In addition, students are able to give written and oral feedback on the modules.

Student participation takes place through a course council.

Interim rules

If a course is no longer offered or has undergone major changes, students will be offered two re-take sessions based on the syllabus in force at registration during a period of one year from the date of the implementation of the changes.


The education is provided by the Faculty of Culture and Society at the Department of Global Political Studies.

Further information

GPSstudent - Malmö universitet,
Michael Strange, Course Coordinator
Phone: 040-6657216


30 August 2021 - 16 January 2022 Day-time 100% Malmö This course is offered as part of a program

31 August 2020 - 17 January 2021 Day-time 100% Malmö Schedule This course is offered as part of a program

Tuition fees

for non-EU students only

First instalment: 39000 SEK
Full tuition Fee: 39000 SEK