SGO4605 – Transformations in the global economy: value chains and production networks

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The global balance of economic power is shifting towards the East and the South, and economic globalization is said to be entering a new phase. What does this mean? How do we, as human geographers, identify such processes, and how can we help to analyze and explain them? This course is based on the global chains and networks perspective, comprising of the global value chains (GVC) approach and the global production networks approach(GPN). We study how analytical frameworks constructed around chains and networks can be used to explain the changes. These approaches build on grand theories on the transformation of economic systems. They also require the development of middle-range theories in order to facilitate explanations in specific analyses. During the course, we will demonstrate and discuss how this can be achieved. The theoretical scope of the course is wide-ranging and forms a basis for human geography research in several different contexts.

Learning outcome


You will be able to:

  • account for the underlying changes supporting the claim that the global balance of economic power is shifting towards the East and the South
  • discuss what separates and unites the value-chains approach and the production-networks approach in analyses of global and regional changes
  • identify strengths and weaknesses of such perspectives as analytical frameworks


You will have the ability to utilize value chains and production networks approaches in concrete analyses. This means that you will be able to:

  • identify what approaches should be applied in the case of specific issues
  • identify the need to make use of middle-range theory in the case of specific issues
  • suggest what middle-range theories may be beneficial to draw on and illustrate how they can be used

General knowledge

You will acquire:

  • practical experience in using and developing theory


Students with admission to the programme must each semester register which courses and examinations they wish to sign up for in StudentWeb.

Admission to the course is dependent on admission to the master’s degree programme in human geography.

Students with admission to other relevant master’s degree programmes can apply for admission as guest students.


Teaching will be in the form of seminars and will consist of nine ordinary seminar meetings and a final seminar. A seminar meeting will take place once a week. The ordinary meetings will last for three hours and consist of a combination of a short lecture, group work, presentations and discussions. The final seminar will also last for three hours, and will include a summing-up of the course and exam preparation based on students’ requests and questions. Attendance at eight out of a total of ten seminars is compulsory. Students must be well prepared for every meeting. For each ordinary meeting a minimum of 50 pages of reading will be set, which students should read prior to the meetings.

Absence from compulsory tuition activities

If you are ill or have another valid reason for being absent from compulsory tuition activities, your absence may be approved or the compulsory activity may be postponed.

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.


6-hour school exam.

The Faculty of Social Science is responsible for the exam(s), and exam(s) are/is normally held at The University of Oslo, Blindern campus. Other locations in Oslo may be used.

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in before the examination. Please read regulations for dictionaries permitted at the examination.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or 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

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

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.


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

Facts about this course






Every other autumn starting 2012


Every other autumn starting 2012

Teaching language