Course description

In this course students will become aquainted with concepts, theories and approaches to nation, nationalism, identity (national-, ethnic- and/or European identity), multiculturalism, power and cosmopolitanism within social sciences. Iceland and its struggle for independence will serve as the main case-study, along with examples from other countries in the world.

Participants will learn about the history of Iceland, Icelandic identity and Icelandic nationalism, the struggle for independence in the 19th and the 20th centuries, as well as in the times of international cooperation, neoliberalism, multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism – i.e. the globalization of the 21st century. The participants will basic understanding of the ways in which social sciences analyse the above mentioned concepts. Thus the students will discuss matters that are related to these concepts, theories and approaches within a social science framework.

The focus of the course will be on how people everywhere are born into a national culture, and how they create, prolong or change their national identity throughout their lifetimes.

The teaching methodology will consist of lectures and discussions, where students will be encouraged to use both the suggested literature and their own experiences as national citizens to discuss questions, such as: What is a nation, nationalism and national identity? How, when and why did they emerged? Do we need them today or are they hindrances for (a European and/or) a global/cosmopolitan identity?


Texts for preparation will be available in a reader before the course starts.


Learning outcomes

After the course, the students will be able to:

  • Describe/Evaluate the history of Iceland and the country's struggle for independence
  • Differentiate and reflect over concepts such as nation and nationalism, identity and ethnicity, multiculturalism, power and cosmopolitanism individually as well as in groups
  • Recognise various ways of analysing these concepts within social sciences (specifically social anthropology and sociology).
    Discuss and present text.




Students requiring alternative forms of assessment are welcome to contact the University Centre for information: Dr. Peter Weiss:

The University Centre recommends that external students receive 2 ECTS, as work load for this course is not under 40-50 hours. The course is on a Bacherlors-level, but is open for interested participants with other background.