Undergraduate course

Citizenship: Theories and Policies

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterAutumn
  • Course codeSAMPOL207
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Level of Study


Teaching semester

Fall - irregular

Objectives and Content

The course aims to examine the concept of citizenship as an empirical phenomenon, as a political construct, and as a theoretical category. In particular, we address three important aspects of the concept: (a) the development of citizenship, (b) the tension between the notions of formal citizenship and citizenship as shared identity, and (c) the extension of citizenship rights to new groups, including non-citizens.

Regarding the first, we pay attention to the idea that development of citizenship is an expansion of first civil rights, then political rights (expression of political agency), and finally social rights (welfare rights). We link this stepwise model further to the different trajectories of state and nation building.

When addressing the second aim, we move attention towards the dilemma of formal citizenship (nationality) and citizenship as shared identity. This is related with internal diversity among people who are already citizens that is the rights of native and naturalized immigrant minorities versus majorities. Such internal plurality gives rise to moral dilemmas: Equal rights, for example, can imply that majority perspectives are imposed upon minorities. If this is undesirable, how should we understand the relation between citizenship and nationality; e.g. should the associated rights and obligations still be difference-blind, or must we recognize that equal respect often necessitates differential treatment and that minorities sometimes must be given special recognition?

The extent to which citizenship rights should be granted non-citizens is the third theme of the course. It has traditionally been taken for granted that the necessary framework for citizenship is the sovereign, territorial state. However, this assumption is now being challenged by the increase in globalization, such as increasing international trade, the supranational citizenship of the European Union, as well as high levels of migration. Must we re-think the concept of citizenship as a result of this, e.g. does mounting globalization create social obligations towards non-citizens? Does the political community have the moral right to decide who can and cannot become a citizen or must we rather recognize the right to free movement? Should labour immigrants be given the same social security and welfare rights as the native population?

Learning Outcomes

A candidate who has completed his or her qualification should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


  • Present an overview of the conditions and contexts under which different forms of citizenship emerge, evolve and change
  • Understand the different ways in which legal, social, civil and political rights are distributed in an age where the nation state is being challenged by economic globalization, supranationalization, regional interaction, increased mobility, and migration
  • Apply the conceptual apparatus needed to comprehend the above


  • Disseminate knowledge to the general public about the relationship between different citizenship models and countries' specific political histories and current contexts
  • Discuss comparatively through empirical evidences how various states have differential understanding of citizenship and how this dramatically affects how political institutions are organized.
  • Engage in an open debate, both with fellow students and lecturers, about the current issues related to citizenship

General competence

  • Critically and comparatively relate to issues about new citizenship legislations, immigration and asylum laws, and the current politics of identity in different regions of the world
  • Reason about the rights of individuals versus groups from different perspectives like liberalism, republicanism, communitarianism, and utilitarianism
  • Position oneself in relation to different political theory perspectives concerning citizenship models, citizens' rights, other residents' rights, and the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and stateless people.

Required Previous Knowledge

Fulfilment of general admission requirements.

Recommended Previous Knowledge


Access to the Course

The course is open for students at the University of Bergen who fullfil the general admission requirements.

Teaching and learning methods

Form: Lectures

Hours per week: 2

Number of weeks: 12

Total number of hours: 24

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance


Forms of Assessment

2 days take-home exam, maximum 3000 words

Grading Scale

Grading: A-F

Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester

Course Evaluation

The course is to be evaluated according to guidelines found in Handbok for kvalitetssikring av universitetsstudia.


Contact Information