This course is discontinued

HEM4110 – Introductory Semester course in Higher Education

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Course content

During the course the students are introduced to (i) the history of higher education, (ii) the theories, concepts and terminology relevant to higher education, (iii) the range of disciplinary perspectives of relevance for analysing higher education, and (iv) the basic characteristics and underlying philosophies of higher education internationally.

The introductory semester course consists of three units:

Unit 1: Higher Education: General introduction

  • During this unit the students are introduced to higher education as a field of study and a social institution. This is done by discussing the basic structural and cultural characteristics of higher education, by reflecting upon the different disciplinary perspectives and main concepts and theories used to study higher education, and by presenting the main underlying philosophies of higher education internationally. Special attention is given to higher education systems from the countries of origin of the students enrolled in the programme.

Unit 2: Changes in higher education’s primary processes

  • The course work in this unit focuses on various aspects of teaching and learning, knowledge production and services in higher education. The topic is approached from a number of perspectives. Main foci are issues of curriculum management and innovation, research management, contract management, equality and quality in higher education, the new modes of teaching, the different roles of teachers and students in teaching and learning, new modes of research, and ICT as a teaching and learning instrument.

Unit 3: The conditions under which higher education operates

  • This unit deals with the changes in the traditional steering role of the nation state with respect to higher education. The reasons behind these changes may vary from country to country and from region to region. However, common for all countries are the intensifying effects of globalisation and trade liberalisation (resulting in a growing importance of supra-national structures such as EU, NAFTA and MERCOSUR) on higher education. The changing relationship between government and higher education has important consequences for higher education through issues such as higher education structure and organisation, the (public) funding of higher education, quality assessment of teaching and research, institutional leadership, management and governance, relationship between teaching and research, lifelong learning, etc. In this unit these issues will be discussed comparatively, with an emphasis on (but not limited to) the developments in Europe.

Learning outcome

The aim of this first semester is to provide an introduction to the Master Programme on Higher Education. At the end of the semester the students should be able to apply the theories and concepts discussed in the course on practical higher education problems and issues.


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

The course is a part of the Master Programme on Higher Education.


The introductory course consists of lectures, colloquiums and seminars. An 80 % attendance of the formal seminars, lectures and meetings is required of all students.


The examination covering all parts of the introductory course consists of the following elements:

  • Assignments for writing papers based on each of the three parts of the course. Each paper ought not to exceed more than 7 pages in length. The papers will be reviewed by the involved teaching staff. The student will have a chance to improve the paper on the basis of the comments. Each paper will be included in a so-called individual course-portfolio. The students will not receive a mark for these papers individually.
  • An oral examination aimed at determining the level the student has reached by the end of the course. The oral examination will be based on the student’s course-portfolio and the studied literature.

For the examination the following marks are used: A-E and FAIL.

Facts about this course




Every autumn


Every autumn

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