Undervisning på Institut for Statskundskab

September 2022


The whole field of teaching is both highly regulated by national legislation and university rules, and it is characterised by a lot of tacit knowledge and traditions. The purpose of this document is therefore to provide newcomers with a guide to all matters related to teaching at the department. Please be aware that since many deadlines and factual information may change quite often, updated information should always be found online at the study portal or here at the department staff portal, etc.

Teaching is an important part of being employed at the Department of Political Science. It is also an important part of the department’s identity to offer high-quality teaching, study programmes, and ultimately highly competent graduates to the Danish and international labour markets. This is an essential part of our mission.

Quality in teaching is, among other things, about research-based teaching. This means that we have researchers who teach and that we have research-like teaching (particularly at Master’s degree level), which means that students work on individual research problems and analyses of their own choosing. Furthermore, quality is also about ensuring that the teaching involves the latest literature and knowledge in different areas and that the teaching is organised on the basis of carefully prepared pedagogy and didactic, which promote the students’ learning. Here, it is particularly important to consider student activities outside classrooms, including planning teaching that facilitates student activity and preparation as best as possible. At the Bachelor’s degree programme, this is ensured by combining lectures with classroom teaching and by preparing weekly course agendas ('ugesedler') to provide guidance for the student’s individual and group activities.

Teaching at the Bachelor's programme

Teaching at the Bachelor’s level involves a number of core curriculum subjects in the various subfields of political science. The learning objectives for the various subjects are available in the Study regulations and the Curriculum. In general, however, the main purpose of the Bachelor’s degree courses is to provide a broad and general introduction to the most important theories, methods, and results within the subject areas.

Most subjects at the Bachelor’s degree programme are structured as a combination of lectures and classroom teaching carried out by student instructors. In these subjects, lecturers are responsible for the primary academic coordination including the preparation of weekly work tasks and for coordinating the content of the teaching with the student instructors, who have a certain degree of freedom to plan the teaching in their own classes. The coordination typically takes place at weekly meetings between lecturers and student instructors. In almost all subjects, PhD students may teach together with student instructors, and, in individual subjects, postdocs/assistant professors may also take on the instructor role. The exam is organised by lecturers, but the final papers are almost always corrected by a large group from the section. It may be beneficial to have PhD students and postdocs who have taught in the subject correct some of these papers. 

In some Bachelor’s degree subjects (for the moment ‘Political Institutions’ and ‘Policy evaluation’), teaching is organised as a combination of lectures and classroom teaching by academic staff or so-called course instructors; i.e. by PhD students, postdocs/assistant professors, associate professors, or professors. A certain overlap between lecturers and classroom teachers may be an advantage, always provided that PhD students generally do not give lectures. In these cases, the coordination takes place among the group of lecturers and course instructors. The responsibility for preparation of weekly work tasks and weekly coordination may be taken care of on a rotational basis by the different members of the teaching team.

All subjects at the Bachelor’s level have a subject coordinator with overall responsibility for the practical planning of teaching and exam and for communication with the study administration. In addition, the coordinator acts as a project manager for the work in the team of lecturers and student instructors or classroom teachers.

Bachelor's students are distributed among a number of 'classes' of app. 30 students, and the norm is to follow the same class for at least the first two years. Within each class, students are organised into small study groups (4-5 students) that meet in between lectures to work on the weekly course agendas. At the start of each semester, classroom teachers typically organise a plan for student presentations in the classroom lessons, which are divided between the study groups. In most of the subjects at the Bachelor’s degree programme where lectures are combined with classroom teaching, teaching is offered in the form of two lectures and two classroom lessons per week in 13-15 weeks. ‘Methodology II’, however, offers three lectures and two classroom lessons per week.

In the final semester of the Bachelor’s programme, a series of 20 ECTS small seminars (max. 16 participants) are offered in which students receive both regular classes and individual supervision in preparation for their Bachelor’s thesis. These seminars are taught by faculty members above the PhD level. Normally, teaching is offered in the form of four lessons per week in 11 weeks followed by individual student supervision.

The language of instruction is Danish during the entire Bachelor’s programme except for the ‘Political Institutions’ course and the possibility to conduct 5th semester electives in English. In the Danish courses, however, the Study Board has approved that some lectures and classroom lessons may be conducted in English.

As mentioned, teaching at the Bachelor’s degree aims at ensuring a broad introduction to the various political science fields. Consequently, every member of the academic staff is expected to be able to teach at the Bachelor’s degree programme, including in at least one of the Bachelor’s degree core subjects (as lecturer or classroom teacher) even if the subject may be somewhat far from one’s primary research field.

Teaching at the Master's programme

Teaching at the Master’s programme is offered as seminar teaching in small classes (max. 25 participants) by academic staff, i.e. by PhD students, postdocs/assistant professors, associate professors, or professors. Since there are very few recurring seminars in our programme, a core task of teaching master's seminars is to develop the theme, syllabus, and weekly agendas for the courses. Teachers have high discretion in developing course themes, but most aspects related to time planning and exams are quite regulated.

The most common type is a 10 ECTS political science seminar with 3*45 minutes weekly teaching for 14-15 weeks. Be aware that the norm in all courses (BA and MA) is to abide by the 'academic quarter', so for example a class scheduled from 11-14 is expected to start at 11.15 and have 15 minute breaks at 12 and 13 hours.

The exam may be either 1) a free take-home assignment (max. 42,000 characters) with individual supervision, 2) a 7-day take-home assignment with a teacher-defined question (max. 28,000 characters), 3) a 6-hour written on-site examination, 4) an oral exam based on the student's written synopsis (max. 8,400 characters), or 5) an oral exam with teacher-defined questions. See the study regulation for further details.

A few seminars are also offered as 20 ECTS political science courses, typically with the double amount of classes and length of exam papers. Furthermore, it is possible for students to organise their own individual seminar or a group project seminar, each corresponding to 10 ECTS. See the study regulation for further details.

The Master’s programme is completed with a 30 ECTS Master’s thesis, supervised by a faculty member above the PhD level.

Teaching outside the department

The Department of Political Science is engaged in a number of collaborations on teaching in other degree programmes. This applies to the Master’s programme in Journalism, the Erasmus Mundus programme in Global Journalism, the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in Public Health, and the Master’s programme in International Studies.

Expectations for teaching

As an employee, you are a member of a section, and you will be a part of this section’s teaching activities. Some employees will also be associated with cross-disciplinary sections in methodology or in the political science introductory course. Staffing of the teaching tasks takes place on a decentralized basis in the section through discussions, and the head of section is responsible for coordinating the section's teaching with the study director and administration.

For the individual employee, teaching credits are adjusted through the ‘K-system’, which is described on the staff portal. Find the K-standards for various teaching assignments here as well. For example, teaching a 10 ECTS Master's seminar earns 2 K in the system.

PhD students must teach two courses during their programme, typically a Bachelor’s course (as instructor) and a Master’s seminar. PhD students should discuss and make teaching plans in collaboration with their supervisors and the head of section.

Assistant professors typically teach a total of 15K over three years whereas postdocs typically teach 2K per year, depending on the exact employment contract. Both assistant professors and postdocs are assigned a mentor, who may assist in working out a teaching plan for the entire duration of the employment in cooperation with the section head.

Associate professors/professors must deliver teaching and supervision corresponding to 9K per year. Section heads can assist in making a teaching plan.

We try to predict the need for Master's seminars as precisely as possible, but we may have to cancel seminars when the actual demand is known. If a seminar is cancelled, the teacher will not get compensation but should collaborate with the head of section and possibly the supervisor to revise the teaching plan.

Ordering books and course material

The study regulation defines the amount of readings for each type of course. Unlike in some other countries, the amounts are both a minimum indication of how much a course should cover and a maximum indication of how much students can be expected to read and know. Recurring Bachelor's courses have their readings approved by the study board each semester. The library also checks your syllabus for compliance with copyright rules, but please be aware that you are personally responsible for making your courses comply with copyright regulations.

As the next semester approaches, you may be contacted by the student-driven bookstore Politologisk Bogformidling (PB) about ordering books for the coming semester.

You will also be contacted by Helle Bundgaard, who can assist you in making copied/scanned texts for your course ready on Brightspace.

Evaluation of teaching activities

In line with the employee’s obligation to teach at the department, there is also an obligation to be a part of the teaching evaluation. Teaching evaluations are regulated and distributed by the Aarhus BSS evaluation section. As you can see via the link below, Aarhus BSS has a common evaluation procedure with various mandatory elements. For example, you are expected to make a short midterm evaluation during the course and to allocate time in the penultimate class for students to fill out the final evaluation form in the classroom. You will receive the results in advance of the final class of the course where you are expected to present and discuss the results with the students. After the semester ends, the study director and the study board review all teaching evaluations and may reach out for your comments.

Exams and grading

An important difference between the Danish system and most other systems is that as a general rule in higher education, we are not allowed to grade the students based on participation in class. With the exemption of rate types of portfolio exams, only the final exam is graded. The study regulation specifies an activity requirement (for Master's seminars only) where students must attend classes. Failure to do so involves a warning and potentially an extra replacement paper to be completed before the student can attend the regular exam. See the study regulation or the course catalogue page for your seminar to find more details about how you should administer this as a teacher.

Everything related to the timing and planning of exams is administered by Aarhus BSS, so for instance teachers cannot set individual deadlines for seminar papers. If the exam involves a teacher-defined question, you will be approached by the administration about deadlines.

Most grading is done in a cooperation between you as the internal examiner and an external censor assigned to the course. Typically, the internal examiner takes the initiative to set an appointment with the censor before the grading deadline. The grading deadline is four weeks for most types of papers but only two weeks for master's theses. See your exact exams and deadlines on the Wiseflow portal where you retrieve papers and submit the grades.

The grade itself is determined by both examiners in cooperation. However, the exam regulation gives the external examiner the largest say in case of disagreement. Please ask a colleague or the study director for more details.

Except for a few courses merely graded pass/fail, all courses are graded using the Danish 7-step scale, which generally measures the degree of completion of the written course goals.

If unsatisfied with their grade, students may file a written complaint within 14 days of the grading deadline. You will be asked to formally comment on this complaint. Please ask a colleague or the study director for more details if this happens.

Students may ask for feedback after the exams. You are obliged to comply with this, but you may decide the length and format of the feedback. Be aware that your feedback may be used in a complaint if it is within the deadline.

When and how are courses organised?

Teaching is increasingly planned far in advance. If you are newly hired, it is therefore important to get in contact with your section chair quickly to explore teaching options in the coming semesters. It varies between sections how far in advance the large Bachelor's courses are staffed, but seminars/electives in both the Bachelor's and Master's are typically planned 9-12 months in advance of semester start. For example, a Master's seminar starting on 1 February normally has a deadline for submitting your seminar title and exam format in early April the year before. Deadlines for syllabus and teaching times come later.

You will be contacted by teaching administrators in advance of all these deadlines and presented with the right forms, etc. Please ask the relevant person (see teaching-related contacts below) if you are unsure when to do what.

Teaching-related contacts

Section chair

The section chair organises the section’s teaching plan. Ask the chair about openings.

FMOL leadership programme

Ida Warburg is responsible for course planning and the FMOL leadership programme. She will contact you about advance planning of courses, teaching times, and classrooms.

Bachelor's programme

Nanna Stærmose is responsible for courses and exams at the Bachelor's programme. She will contact you about Bachelor's courses, especially in relation to exams.

Master's programme

Susanne Vang is responsible for courses and exams at the Master's programme. She will contact you about Master's courses, especially in relation to exams and theses.

Copyright check

Helle Bundgaard is responsible for course materials and copyright check. She will contact you about syllabi and course materials. 

The director of studies is responsible for the overall quality and development of the study programmes in political and social science in cooperation with the study board, the department management, and the Aarhus BSS studies organisation.

Study board

The study board is composed of four elected faculty members and four elected students. The study board is responsible for the entire study programme and can make decisions about changes in the study regulations, dispensations, etc.