IDE4014 – The Public Sphere, Freedom of Press and Political Ideas around 1814

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The Norwegian Constitution of 1814 declared, among other things, that “There shall be freedom of print” and “Everyone shall be free to speak his mind frankly on the administration of the State and on any other subject whatsoever” (Article 100). Ever since, freedom of expression and a public deliberation have been conceived as self-evident features of modern democracy in Norway. But what is a public sphere? How did ideas of freedom of expression develop? Why should jews not be admitted into the country? And what does popular sovereignty mean?

The course investigates main points in the intellectual and institutional background for some of the political ideas expressed in the Norwegian Constitution of 1814. It addresses the emergence of a debating public sphere and modern political ideas both in Europe and in Denmark-Norway prior to 1814. The syllabus provides historical overview and presents various theoretical perspectives in the research on the history of the public sphere and modern political ideas. Primary sources will be part of the syllabus.

Learning outcome

After completing this course you will have:

  • Acquired knowledge about the intellectual and historical background for crucial political ideas in the Norwegian Constitution of 1814
  • Learned to identify theoretical developments in the research on the history of the public sphere and the idea of freedom of expression
  • Developed your skills in reading and analyzing primary sources from 18th and 19th century intellectual history
  • Spesialized knowledge about at least one primary source on the course syllabus


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

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


Recommended previous knowledge

The course requires basic knowledge of Scandinavian history and European intellectual history. It assumes a good proficiency in oral and written English.


10 double sessions of lectures and up to four double sessions of guest lectures common with IDE2014 – The Public Sphere, Freedom of Press and Political Ideas around 1814. In addition, three double sessions of master seminars.

We expect you to be prepared and participate actively.


Final assessment is a three-day home examination.


Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

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

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


All courses are subject to continuous evaluation. The Department's assessments of courses are
available at our web-pages but generally only in Norwegian.

Facts about this course






This course is offered on an irregular basis.


Teaching language