This course is discontinued

STV4236B – International Security and Multipolarity

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course is an introduction to the basic concepts, theoretical debates, and issues on International Security. The course is roughly divided into three sections. In the first part, we are going to look at major theoretical schools of international relations, their definitions of the international system and the implications for security studies. We will also discuss the meanings of concepts such as national security, national interest, and the security dilemma. In the second part, we are going to look at national security establishments, the major actors and institutions involved and how decisions are made. In the third section, after a brief overview of the evolution of international security from Cold War to our day, we will focus on current security challenges and debates. We will talk about war on terror, and the tensions between civil liberties and national security. We will also discuss the politics of nuclear proliferation, environmental degradation, infectious diseases and global poverty and whether these issues are best dealt with within the parameters of the national security paradigm. We will finish by discussing alternative concepts to national security, such as human or global security and how the definition of national security could be transformed in order to deal more efficiently with the emerging problems of a globalizing world.

Learning outcome

Students will:

  • obtain a good grasp of the core components of national and international security;
  • understand the interrelationship between these components;
  • understand how the components have changed over time;
  • know different theoretical approaches to international security;
  • Learn the components of modern security politics.


  • Students take these courses as part of their general education or to prepare themselves for careers in fields related to diplomacy, peace and war studies, NGOs, intelligence, or other aspects of international security.

Students will:

  • improve analytical abilities for public policy evaluation by studying the formulation and implementation of strategies by actors in the national and international security environment.


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.

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


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Bachelor's degree in Political Science or equivalent.

Recommended previous knowledge

Bachelor's degree in Political Science or equivalent.


10 lectures will be given. The lectures are held intensively for a period of 5 weeks, with the exam in the sixth week. The course will be taught as a series of research seminars where the curriculum will be presented by the participating students and discussed in plenum. The presentations are short 10-15 minute summaries of an assigned part of the curriculum. This is not a hand-in assignment, although students may want to share the cliff-notes among themselves. The students will sign up for their presentations during the first class.

Students are expected to attend all seminars, roll calls will be held at the beginning of each seminar. A failure to attend 2/3 of the seminars will be treated as voluntary withdrawal from the course. Failing to observe this criterion will lead to being barred from handing in exam papers.

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.


Course paper (15-20 pages. 7000 - 10.000 words, including footnotes). Exceeding the max word count negatively towards the grade.

Themes and titles for the individual course papers have to be approved by the lecturer and are expected to arise from questions central to the syllabus and communicate with its readings.


Language of examination


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

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Spring 2013


Spring 2013

Teaching language