Student Pages
Undergraduate course

Contemporary Challenges to Representative Government

Teaching semester

Fall 2020

Objectives and Content

In Europe and beyond, democracy as-we-know-it is based on a system of representative government that originated and developed in a world in which large industries were the main drivers of economic growth, and national governments were the legitimate and undisputed holders of political power. Today, many of these characteristics are changing or even disappearing, with the growth of the service sector on the one hand, and growing international economic interdependence on the other.

The aim of this course is to map the contemporary challenges to representative government, and to explore how governments have dealt with these over the last couple of decades. The challenges to representative government will be mapped in relation to the societal changes caused by the transition from an industrial to a post-industrial economy, and in relation to the political changes caused by growing economic interdependencies and the so-called financialization of the economy.

The lectures will therefore cover a broad set of themes including the changing political landscape after the Great recession, the changing interests of business and labour organizations, the structural power of global business and the constraints deriving from membership to regional organizations such as the European Union.

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student can

  • display an understanding of the challenges governments face in the current post-industrial and globalized world.
  • gain knowledge about how different governments deal(t) with such challenges.
  • gain an understanding of the tensions between political mandates and institutional/economic constraints
  • demonstrate an ability to distinguish between the opportunities and constraints of different institutional settings.
  • display an understanding of the most important questions regarding how recent economic developments impact upon the functioning of national democracy.


The student is able to

  • acquire a basis for critical and independent analysis of the drivers┬┐ and constraints behind governments┬┐ policies.
  • acquire basic knowledge of cross-national similarities and differences about how different governments deal with similar challenges.
  • acquire insight into cross-temporal differences and similarities in how governments operate in key economic areas.

General competence

The student

  • is able to synthesize theoretical and empirical material on a given topic relevant to the course readings and topics

Required Previous Knowledge


Recommended Previous Knowledge


Access to the Course

Open to all students at the University of Bergen

Teaching and learning methods

  • Form: Lectures
  • Hours per week: 12
  • Number of weeks: 3

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance


Forms of Assessment

Students have to deliver a maximum 4000 words essay by the end of the semester.

Grading Scale

The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale; grade F is a fail.

Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester.

Course Evaluation

All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.

Programme Committee

Department of Comparative Politics


Contact Information


Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Essay

    Submission deadline
    05.11.2020, 17:00
    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam