This course is discontinued

HIS4417 – Politics, Poverty and Water in Post-colonial India

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Those who follow news reporting on Asia will be familiar with the entrance of India into global political and economic spheres. They may also be aware that recent economic growth in India has not brought the vast numbers of urban and rural poor out of poverty. This course explores reasons for the persistence of high proportions of poor and very poor communities and groups in post-colonial India. A guiding question for the course is why electoral politics have been slow in promoting processes of what some observors call the “deepening of democracy” in India.

In approaching both political processes and rural political participation, the course uses as case studies two states in south India, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Economic growth and well-being in these two states is challenged by persistent and worsening water scarcity. Since south India has large semi-arid zones, the politics of access to water in south India is also a theme in the course.

The course combines an interest in Indian political culture and institutions with the desire to understand dynamics in political economy. The case studies from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu provide opportunities to learn about political change in possibly the socially most complex part of the world.

Learning outcome

Students will learn basic components of political culture in an area of the world which has highly complicated social structures and a vast, mostly agricultural population. They will learn the kinds of political dynamics which are set in motion by the introduction of electoral politics in socially complex societies. They will also become acquanted with ways in which rural folk both cooperate and compete over vital resources, in this case, water. Students will build on their capacity to read critically, think independently, and write clearly.


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If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Admission to the mastersprogram in History.

Recommended previous knowledge

A good ability to read and understand English is required for this course.


This course is given in the form of seminars.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


Students assessed by a six-hour written examination.

Language of examination

You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English. If you would prefer to have the exam text in English, you may apply to the course administrators.

Students’ own work can be in either English or Norwegian.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Explanations for the grade - Students can request an explanation of their grades. This must happen within a week after the announcement date by sending an e-mail to The candidate must provide their candidate number, e-mail address and telephone number. The examiner decides whether the explanation will be given in writing or orally. The explanation shall normally be given within two weeks after your request.

Grade appeals or complaints concerning formal examination errors - the candidate may appeal their grade or complain about formal examination errors on written exams within three weeks after the result has been announced. If the candidate has asked for an explanation, the deadline is three weeks after the candidate received their explanation. The complaint must contain an explanation of why the student complaints. If the candidate has received a written explanation for the grade, it must be attached. It is recommended that the following form is used: bokmål / nynorsk / english (pdf). The appeal must be sent or delivered to the Faculty of Humanities for registration. You will find the address on the form. The complaint will then be submitted to the responsible department for further processing.
For more information see the Faculty of Humanities website.

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Periodic evaluation

Facts about this course






This course is currently not offered.

Teaching language