Political conversations take place everywhere – in the UN, in the Swedish parliament, at our on dinner tables, in the media. Whether it is about current politics or eternal philosophical dilemmas, issues concerning the governance of society and how our community should be organised are always of immediate interest and importance. Political science focuses on these problems.

Political science is the scientific study of politics

The American political scientist Robert Dahl argues that political science is about studying power – power and power relations at different levels of society and in all possible forms. However, the subject is broad and includes several different specialisations, such as Swedish politics, international relations, political theory, public administration and comparative politics – but also questions of development, gender and the EU.

A common feature of the Department’s research is the orientation towards central political-philosophical fundamental elements such as democracy, state, nation, equality – and, of course, politics and power. But it is theory interplaying with empirics: theory-based fundamental research, one could call it. Theory is being supported by real political problems, and political problems are being supported by theory.

Dissertations presented by the Department’s staff may treat a range of different subjects, such as Japanese or American foreign policy, motherhood and work, the justice of basic income, the growth of performance management within – and its consequences for – the public administration, or state formation processes in Uganda today.

The Department’s aim is to work for fresh ideas, an environment of high tolerance, but without foregoing established scientific requirements such as clear argumentation, transparency, systematics and an awareness of problems of interpretation. The ambition is political scientific multiplicity, combined with an openness to different perspectives and methods. The Department is particularly prominent when it comes to methods of text analysis and discourse oriented perspectives. In a historical perspective we see ourselves as trustees of Herbert Tingsten’s legacy of analysis of ideas, thoughts that have developed towards new forms of analysis of text and ideas, such as history of concepts, discourse analysis, critical discourse analysis, and narrative analysis.

At all levels of education – undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate level – teaching is conducted in both Swedish and English. The Department is a large one: in total more than 1600 students are enrolled each year at different levels. About 120 of these students study at the advanced level, i.e. master studies. The master’s programme is the only one in Sweden offering a programme of 120 credits in political science exclusively. The graduate studies programme at the Department has for a long time been the largest political science graduate programme, given the number of graduate students. Within the teacher education around 120 students are being trained in the subject social science each year.

No matter at what stage the students are in their education, the overall aim is to offer an opportunity of deeper studies in scientific methods and critical analysis, and to make the students develop into independent political scientists. At the same time it is important that there is a possibility, already at an early stage in the education, to specialise in a particular subject. The Department therefore seeks both to offer a fundamental general knowledge of the subject political science, and to provide the opportunities of specialised knowledge.

This creates, we believe, a fine education which makes it possible for the students to find a job, especially within public administration and different organisations, but also within other areas such as journalism and media.

 Political Science at Stockholm University - a presentation (14338 Kb)