Political Science: Norms in International Society


Syllabus for students autumn 2018

Course Code:
ST613L revision 2.1
Swedish name:
Statsvetenskap: Normer i det internationella samfundet
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Political Science
Date of ratification:
23 April 2018
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
03 September 2018
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
17 June 2016

Entry requirements

A Bachelor’s Degree within a social science field, e.g., Political Science, Peace and Conflict Studies, International Relations, Human Rights or a related major field. English B

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course is part of the main field of study Political Science at advanced level and meets the degree requirements for the degree of Master, main field of study Political Science.


The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of central international normative frameworks, with a particular emphasis on human rights, public international law, and just war doctrine, but also emerging normative frameworks like corporate social responsibility.


What constitutes normative framework and in what ways do they influence conduct in international society? Do they have real effects or are they mostly surface phenomena?
The central theme of the course is the growing role played by international norms, and during the course a number of such normative frameworks will be covered, above all human rights, public international law, and just war doctrine. The course also goes into the social responsibility of multinational corporations. The discussion of these normative frameworks falls into two main categories, one dealing with the effects that such international norms have on a national and local level, the other having to do with conflict resolution on an international level. Exactly how influential international norms really are, the extent to which they have a deeper impact or whether they are mainly a surface phenomenon, is a contested matter and this also an issue that will be focused on during the course.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
On completion of the course the student shall demonstrate knowledge and understanding of

  • central international normative frameworks as well as the ways in which these function on a local, national, and international level.
  • the development over time of international normative frameworks and the processes of change related to this development; and
  • key concepts within the area and their application.

Skills and abilities
On completion of the course the student shall demonstrate an ability to
  • critically and independently reflect on central themes concerning international norms and the role they play for decision-making on a local, national and international level; and
  • in writing explain and argue for their analyses and assessments of complex issues as well as communicating the results of their own and others’ work.

Judgement and approach
On completion of the course the student shall demonstrate a capacity to
  • analyze and assess the behavior of different actors in relation to existing international normative frameworks; and
  • analyze and assess information on a scientific basis.

Learning activities

A significant part of the learning activities consists in individual studies, but there are also lectures, which aim to give an advanced introduction to relevant theories and concepts, throughout the course, as well as teacher-moderated seminars within seminar groups. The students are expected to organize their individual studies so that they can come well-prepared to the lectures and seminars. In addition, the students are expected to organize and moderate reading- and discussion meetings.


Students will be examined through an individually written take-home exam at the end of the course. This exam will be designed so that the central themes of the course should be explained, reflected on, and critically discussed. Students who do not pass the regular course exam have a minimum of two re-take opportunities. Re-takes follow the same form as the original exam.

Grading system

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

Course literature and other teaching materials

• Cooper, Davina (2014) Everyday Utopias – The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces (Durham: Duke University Press).
• Miller, Robert and Graham Day (2012) (eds) The Evolution of European Identities – Biographical Approaches (Basingstoke: Palgrave).
• Seabrooke, Leonard (2006) The Social Sources of Financial Power (Ithaca: Cornell University Press).
• Up to 300 pages of additional material, which may vary from year to year.

Course evaluation

The University provides students who participate in or who have completed a course with the opportunity to make known their experiences and viewpoints with regards to the course by completing a course evaluation administered by the University. The University will compile and summarize the results of course evaluations as well as informing participants of the results and any decisions relating to measures initiated in response to the course evaluations. The results will be made available to the students (HF 1:14).

Interim rules

If a course ceases to be available or has undergone any major changes, the students are to be offered two opportunities to retake the examination during the year following the change for re-examination, based on the syllabus which applied at registration.

Other Information

The Language of Instruction is English


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