TIK4021 – Innovation and global challenges

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Science and innovation are called upon to solve some of the most pressing problems of the world today, such as economic development, climate change and global health. But why does economic growth differ so much in the first place? Can university-based research solve health problems in developing countries? Why do current climate change solutions to such a high degree emphasise development of new technologies? If innovation is one of the big buzzwords of our time, why does it still seem to be so many barriers to it in organisations?

The main goal of the course is to increase the students’ knowledge of important concepts, issues, theories and dilemmas in innovation, building on introductory courses in innovation studies at the University of Oslo and elsewhere in the ESST partner institutions. Through examples related to global challenges such as climate change, economic growth and public health, the topic of innovation is tied to some of the most important issues of our time. At the end, the students should be able to participate in high-level discussions about contemporary innovation theory, policy and management. From the lecturer side, the goal is also to create a good learning environment with interesting tasks and discussions – and to have fun while doing so!

Teaching is more closely related to the actual research carried out by the TIK personnel and guest lecturers. The modules should provide concepts and frameworks that can be used in students’ master theses, and the essay at the end of the course will be closely related to this as well. In addition, there will be practical group works in the course. This will mainly be self-supervised, although there may be special lectures and other types of input and feedback. Lecturers will be available for questions and we will try to adjust the feedback to the needs in the various groups. The course is organised into four modules each lasting two to three weeks. There will be a unique group work in each module.


The course will focus on four main topics:

  1. Innovation policy and current perspectives
  2. The role of public research organizations, like universities, in innovation processes and systems
  3. System transition and sustainability
  4. Organisational and management perspectives on innovation

In addition there will be an extended introductory part highlighting issues of economic growth and industrial dynamics.

Structure: 2 lectures/week plus some group work. Lectures are mostly 1415-1600 on Thursdays and 1015-1200 on Fridays in TIK’s lecture room (529), except where noted.

Learning outcome


The students will acquire knowledge on:

  • Differences in growth and dynamics between sectors, countries and regions.
  • Dynamics of system transitions.
  • The role of public knowledge institutions and infrastructures, like universities, in innovation processes and systems.
  • Innovation management.

After completing the course the students should have acquired sophisticated analytical skills from reading and analysing a cross-disciplinary set of literature based on different types of data and methodologies. This will make them able to discuss how the above theories and frameworks can be applied in analysis of contemporary policy and economic issues such as:

  • dynamics of modern knowledge-based economies
  • transitions between different technological regimes
  • commercialisation of science-based knowledge
  • promotion of innovation in organisations

The students should be able to analyse, understand and explain some of the most important issues in today’s societies. Examples are the role of sectors and regions in economic development, the dynamics of system transitions, the relationship between “new” and “old” technologies, and tapping the potential of the public science base


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.

The course is applicable for master programme students from humanities/social sciences. Students passed the course Error: java.lang.NullPointerException have a priority, other students are admitted if there is capacity.

Please apply in Studentweb by: January 10th.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

A Bachelor Degree in Social Sciences, Humanities or equal.

Recommended previous knowledge

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The lectures will take place between January and May.

Obligatory coursework 2018 and forward:

  • Each module will have an obligatory activity at the end
  • The activity will be either a presentation or a short written assignment

You need to pass/participate in at least three obligatory activities.


One week home-exam. Results will be ready within three weeks from the submission date.

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 exam assignment will be given in English. ESST students must write their exam in English, while TIK students may choose between English and Norwegian.

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

Students in this course automatically receive an explanation alongside their grade.

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.

Evaluations (only in Norwegian)

Spring 2014

Spring 2015

Spring 2018

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language


If there are no English-speaking students, lectures may be given in Norwegian.