This course is discontinued

HEMSUBSTA – History and Philosophy of Higher Education

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Course content

History and Philosophy of Higher Education is an obligatory module in the Master Programme on Higher Education.

Learning outcome

Through this module students will be introduced to the historical and ideological legacy of the university, from its medieval origins until the present-day ’mass university’ and ’research university’. Through the study of institutional changes over more than ten centuries, the module aims at giving the students an understanding of how the development of higher education is linked to the development of the society at large, the shifting forces of order and authority and, eventually, to the emergence of ’science’ as the generally accepted legitimate basis of knowledge. Particular attention will be paid to the 19th century educational and institutional reforms and the rise of the ’Humboldtian ideal’ of the research-based university. Alternatives to the Humboldtian model will be studied, e.g. the Anglo-American concept of ’liberal education’. The module aims at providing a historical background for the understanding of the present-day complex pattern of higher educations institutions and ’systems’ and will only briefly be treating the higher education system as it has emerged from the 1960s until the present day.

The reading list for the module consists of approximately 600 pages of literature. The texts have been chosen in order to familiarize the students with solid historical scholarship. Excerpts of ’classical’ philosophical texts will be read in conjunction with the reading-list.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

The course is a part of the second semester of the Master Programme on Higher Education. Only students formally accepted to the programme may follow the course.


The module is built up of four weeks. The first week consists of one introductory lecture and individual literature studies. The second and third week is comprised of lectures and seminars, and in the third and fourth week the students write a paper.


The examination of this module consists of a term paper on a topic related to the module. For the examination the following marks are used: PASS, and FAIL

Facts about this course




Every spring


Every spring

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