STV4447 – The Politics of Education and Research Policies

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Course content

Education and research policies are very important for modern societies, because institutions such as kindergartens, schools and universities are supposed to educate people to become good citizens, prepare them for the labour market, or find answers to societal challenges like climate change. However, education and research policies show a large variance in many countries and the politics, meaning the political dynamics that shape these policies, play out differently depending on the context. This opens up interesting questions like:

  • Why do pupils in some countries go through a unified secondary school system, while in others they are separated based on their grades?
  • Why do you have to pay high tuition fees in some countries, while others are tuition free?
  • Why do some countries provide extensive student support and others do not?
  • What is the impact of these differences for educational trajectories or societal inequality?

All these questions and many others will be in the focus of this course on the politics of education and research policies. The course will not only introduce students to the differences between education and research systems in different (mainly OECD) countries, but also analyse and discuss factors that can explain the variation such as path-dependence of national education systems, party politics, Europeanization, or international reform trends that are promoted by organizations like the World Bank or the OECD

Learning outcome


Having completed this course, students:

  • Have detailed knowledge of different education systems, relevant actors, and international processes in the policy field  as well as the state of the art of research
  • Have in-depth knowledge on the most important conceptual approaches used to study education and research policies, including party politics, neo-institutional approaches, or policy diffusion
  • Are familiar with recent international reform processes, such as the Europeanization of higher education and research or  the role of the PISA studies for the policy field; in addition, they are able to assess their consequences for national reforms
  • Understand the interaction of education and research policies among one another and with other policy fields


Having completed this course, students can:

  • conduct independent empirical studies on education and research policies
  • contribute to policy debates in the area of education and research through their knowledge of the policy field as well as international reform trends
  • assess strengths and weaknesses of specific reforms as well as their consequences
  • present academic ideas and write academic texts


Having completed this course, students can:

  • analyse policies and policy-making processes and reflect critically about central arguments for specific policies or reforms
  • recognize and critically assess the relations between different actors in the policy field
  • use academic research to inform actors in the policy field about strengths and weaknesses of specific reforms


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).


Recommended previous knowledge

Bachelor's degree in Political Science or similar.


Lectures and two compulsory seminars 


Obligatory activities:

Two seminars 

  • In the seminars, students will present an outline of their term paper and provide comments to the other students’ outlines.

Policy brief

  • Students prepare a policy brief in small groups. The paper is presented and discussed in the last lecture of the course.
  • The policy brief must have a limit of 1000-1500 words.
  • The policy brief and its presentation will be assessed together using a pass / fail scheme.
  • Students have to pass the policy brief to be able to pass the term paper, and both have to be delivered in the same semester.


Term paper

  • must be between 3500-5000 words
  • must have a topic that reflects the course readings and curriculum but selected by the student
  • have a topic cleared with the course’s main lecturer
  • is prepared by writing an outline of the paper of 1000-1500 words which is presented in the seminars
  • must meet the formal requirements for submission of written assignments

Submit assignments in Inspera

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

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.

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






Spring 2022

This course is not given on a regular basis


Spring 2022

This course is not given on a regular basis

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