STV4322B – The Politics of Organized Political Actors

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Course content

This master course within comparative politics deals with two main types of organized political actors in democracies:

  • political parties
  • interest groups

We examine and compare their organizational structures, strategies, behavior as well as their political impact. Particular emphasis will be on the issue of political influence in public decision-making and how parties and interest groups shape the nature of democratic governance.

  • How do political parties seek political power?
  • Do parties matter for media’s agenda-setting and public policy?
  • How do interest groups lobby?
  • Are they able to exert influence?
  • What explain lobbying success of interest groups?
  • Does money talk in politics?

Attention is also paid to the (power) relationship between political parties and interest groups and how this has developed over time.

An overarching topic is what explains variation across political systems and time periods.

Different theoretical approaches and major empirical studies within these fields of research will be presented. We concentrate on politics at the national level in established democracies, but also address the role of organized political actors within the European Union (EU).

Learning outcome


Students will:

  • obtain a good grasp of the core concepts and theoretical approaches within these fields of research;
  • develop a deeper understanding of the nature of political parties, interest groups and social movement organizations, and the relationship between them;
  • obtain empirical knowledge about their organizational structures, strategies, and behavior in contemporary established democracies;
  • learn more about how and why they vary across countries and have changed over time;
  • be well acquainted with how parties, interest groups and social movement organizations affect the public sphere, the legislative process and public policy outputs;
  • obtain a better grasp of the relationship between organized political actors and democracy


Students are expected to:

  • be able to define core concepts and describe theoretical approaches within these fields of research;
  • conduct comparative analyses of parties and interest groups – of their structures, strategies, behavior, and political influence;
  • improve their ability to discuss the relationship between organized political actors and democracy;
  • be able to synthesize knowledge from different sources and fields


Students will:

  • improve their general analytical skills;
  • develop the ability to work with empirical data;
  • enhance the competence to discuss academic literature with others;
  • improve the ability to read scholarly literature instrumentally and critically


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.

Apply for guest student status if you are admitted to another Master's programme (deadline 1 August / 5 January).

For incoming students

All Master's courses in Political Science must be registered manually by the Department, they will not appear in Studentweb. Contact your international coordinator at UiO.


Recommended previous knowledge

Students without much prior knowledge of comparative politics are recommended to read the chapters on “Political Parties” (by Richard Katz) and “Interest Associations” (by Roland Erne) in Daniele Caramani’s edited text book Comparative Politics, Oxford University Press (available at the UHS library).



Lectures (with emphasis on active student involvement in due course) are held during five weeks, with examination in the sixth week.



Term paper and 3-hour written examination.

The term paper must:

The written examination counts more than the term paper. You receive one overall grade. You must pass the term paper and your written examination in the same semester.

Previous exams with grading guidelines.

Written examination

The written examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera. You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

Read more about written examinations using Inspera.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read more 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.

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

You may write your examination paper 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.

Facts about this course






Spring 2021

This course is not given on a regular basis


Spring 2021

This course is not given on a regular basis

Teaching language