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Guidelines for seminars at 2000-courses in political science

Seminar learning outcomes

You will

  • be able to structure academic texts with research questions that the student has chosen him-/herself or that are pre-defined.
  • be able to relate a research question to the academic literature in the area and assess how the choice of research question determines the choices of research design, the need for sources/data and the research method.
  • be able to communicate academic knowledge in writing and orally and provide constructive criticism of other students’ assignments.


  • The seminars are skills-oriented
  • The seminars shall develop students’ ability to apply academic literature, in writing as well as orally.
  • They are based on the writing and methodological skills that students have acquired in the introductory and methodology courses and will prepare students for their work on the bachelor’s thesis.
  • The seminars shall prepare students for working life, and therefore use working methods that most students will encounter in their future jobs.

Come prepared

To ensure a successful seminar the participants must come prepared, read the seminar assignments to be presented prior to the seminar and familiarize themselves with the relevant literature on the reading list. By being well prepared, the participants can provide useful feedback to those whose written assignments are up for discussion. In addition, the students themselves benefit (including with a view to the examination) from providing well-considered feedback and comments to others in the seminar.

Organization and tasks

Seminars can be organized in varying ways, but a main model is normally applied. 

  • Students must write a paper, with a chosen or given research question, depending on the course. 
  • An approved seminar assignment is a precondition for sitting the examination (with the exception of courses in which the seminar assignment is part of the semester assignment and graded).
  • All students present their own seminar assignment 
  • All students comment on other students' papers 
  • The seminar leader comments and summarize
  • The courses are normally evaluated in the final seminar. The students' evaluation is essential for the efforts to develop the best possible seminar programme at the department, and the students will therefore take part in it.

Compulsory activities

Writing and presenting a paper and acting as discussant at least once are defined as compulsory activities. The students may not sit for the examination unless these activities have been completed.

Information about the paper

  • See the course page for information on the technicalities of the seminar assignment.
  • See the Department of Political Science's writing tips (in Norwegian) or Search and Write for tips in English.
  • For courses where the seminar paper is assessed as passed/not passed, a passed seminar assignment is a precondition for sitting the examination. If a seminar paper is not passed, the student may submit a revised and improved version to the seminar leader. If the seminar leader still deems the paper unworthy of approval, the person responsible for the course will be contacted. A final decision not to approve the assignment is made by the seminar leader and lecturer in collaboration, if relevant.
  • For courses where the paper receives a final grade, the paper must fulfill the formal criteria for submission in the seminar. These requirements are given by the seminar leader. If the paper does not meet these criteria, the student must submit a revised and improved version to the seminar leader. 

Information about the discussant commentary

An commentary provides feedback on someone else’s assignment. It should provide feedback to the academic content of the seminar assignment as well as to key aspects of the written account. Make sure that both praise and criticism are emphasized, and ensure that all criticism remains constructive and is presented in an appropriate academic form.

The purpose 

  • to train the students’ ability to think analytically and assess written work in light of academic standards.
  • to train students' ability to give feedback on other students' academic work 
  • to help the person who presents his/her assignment go forward in the writing process by providing him/her with constructive feedback on the work that has been done.

The seminar leader distributes a discussant template for the content of commentary.

An approved commentary is a precondition for sitting the examination. If an commentary fails to receive approval, the student shall have the opportunity to improve ti commentary, in writing or orally.

The seminar leader’s role

  • Act as a link between the students and the lecturers.
  • Decide the framwork for the semianrs in collaboration with the other seminar leaders for the course in question
  • Be familiar with the relevant parts of the syllabus and also have a good overview of other literature related to the course.
  • Act as a moderator and seek to ensure that the seminar discussion is kept within academically relevant and productive boundaries, as well as ensure that all participants may take the floor.
  • Reiterate good practices for provision of feedback.
  • Determine the framework for the students’ discussant work, including the duration of a discussant’s presentation, whether the discussant should act individually or as a group, and whether someone should act as discussant on repeated occasions. The seminar leaders provides the students with a discussant template for the commentary.
  • Give a review of academic authorship and writing of assignments, focusing on the relationship between the research question and the choices of research design, need for sources/data and choice of research methods.
  • Reiterate the rules for good citing practice and the relevant parts of the university’s regulations on cheating as required.
  • Provide a brief feedback statement to the assignments and, if relevant, grade the seminar assignments as either pass or fail. If a fail grade is given, the student shall have the opportunity to resubmit the assignment.
  • Assess the discussant commentary. If the commentary is not approved, the student shall have the opportunity to comment again, in writing or orally.
Published Sep. 25, 2014 2:59 PM - Last modified June 30, 2017 10:38 AM