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The Political Economy of Technical Standards

Module POL24302

This Module is offered by Department of Governance.

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Basic Information

POL24302 is a semester module in English language at Bachelor’s level and Master’s level which is offered in winter semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Catalogue of soft-skill courses
Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
90 h 30 h 3 CP

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


This seminar focuses on the interrelated themes of the political economy of standardization and certification within the context of global governance. This will naturally cover the topic of standards as they are at the center, and a main output, of the standardization process. In this course, a standard is defined as a technical document that is designed to be used as a rule or a guideline for doing something. We will cover various types of standards, such as product and management system standards. The first part of the course deals with the fundamentals of standardization and standards: different types of standards and their historical background, the economic theories behind standards, standardization and standard-setting processes, the role of standards in innovation and their impact on the micro (organizations) and the macro (states) levels, ways of ensuring compliance, and the role of standards in market governance. In the second part we build upon what has been introduced during the first part, but now with a focus on global governance. We will examine the role of inter- and transnational standards development organizations in the global economy, the politics of standards setting, public and private stakeholders role in standards setting, standards wars.

Learning Outcome

Drawing upon literature from political science, sociology and economics, this course aims to offer students conceptual tools to open the blackbox of standards/standardization. Instead of viewing standards as ready-made rules, this course is designed to help students think critically about how standards come into being, as well as the impact, power, and limitations of standards as a tool of governance from the political and social perspectives. Students who successfully complete this class will develop a critical and interdisciplinary thinking toward standardization and related policy/governance issues.


This is an introductory course geared toward students without prior knowledge or trainings in the standardization field.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

SE 2 (POL24302) The Political Economy of Technical Standards singular or moved dates

Learning and Teaching Methods

The module consists of a single 2 hours/week highly interactive seminar, accompanied by weekly reading assignments. Close advance reading of the assigned texts for each week's lecture will be expected.


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Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

The evaluation of this module will be based on: (1) A 10-12 double spaced pages (not including the bibliography) term paper, which will be worth 90% of the final grade. Students will be required to submit a research proposal that provides an introduction and a research question/topic on week four of the semester (worth 20%). Additionally, students will be required to present the status of their work in front of the class during the last two weeks for critics and feedback (worth 30%). The final version of the paper (in journal format) should be submitted before the end of the semester (worth 40%). (2) A A participation grade which is worth 10% of the grade. Students will be graded based on their level of participation discourse. This entails having carefully read and annotated the required readings before the class and active participation during the seminar.

Exam Repetition

There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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