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From Vikings to Welfare: An Introduction to the Archeology and History of Sweden and the Nordic Countries, 30 Credits

Swedish name: Från vikingar till välfärd: En introduktion till arkeologi och historia i Sverige och Norden

This syllabus is valid: 2022-06-13 and until further notice

Course code: 1HI079

Credit points: 30

Education level: First cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: No main field: First cycle, has only upper-secondary level entry requirements

Grading scale: VG Pass with distinction, G Pass, U Fail

Revised by: Head of Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, 2021-10-12


With this course students gain insight into the archeology, history, history of religions and intellectual history of Sweden and the Nordic countries. The course contains four modules: ancient Scandinavia, history of the Nordic countries, history of Nordic religions (Viking age religion, Sami religion and Christianity) and the Sami, and the intellectual history of Sweden. 

Module 1. Ancient Scandinavia (7.5 credits)
The first module introduces the pre-historic times in Scandinavia, that begins in the end of the last Ice Age and ends in the Viking Period. We study the variation and change in material culture, monument types and environments. We also study the interpretations of ancient ways of life lifeways, societies, and Scandinavian ancient beliefs. 

Module 2. Nordic History (7.5 credits)
The second module deals with the history of the Nordic countries from the Early Middle Ages until present day in a comparative perspective. We study, among other things, the rise of the Danish and Swedish protestant states, the consequences of the Napoleonic period, the coming of nationalism and new identities in the nineteenth century, the development of the Welfare State, the Nordic Countries and the Second World War, the situation during the Cold War and finally Minorities in the Nordic Countries. 

Module 3. Sami and Old Norse Religion/Nordic religions (7,5 credits)
This module provides a comparative perspective on Nordic religions, from the Viking Age to the present. Focus is on Old Norse religion around year 1000 and Sami religion in the 17th and 18th centuries. But comparisons are made with ancient religions on the British Isles, continental Germanic and Finnish religions, and the introduction and history of Christianity in Sweden is outlined as well. Topics that are given attention are: sources and source criticism; myth and rite; the cultural and societal context for the different religious traditions; and the indigenous Nordic religions' encounters with Christianity. Further, the different views, interpretations and uses of these religious traditions in the history of research and in popular culture are problematized. 

Module 4. Twentieth Century Swedish Intellectual History (7,5 credits)
This module covers Swedish intellectual history, from the early twentieth century and onwards, with a special focus on the role of science and technology in the shaping of Swedish nationhood, political culture, and public image. Students will gain insight into the role of expert knowledge in Swedish political culture, and the tension between democratic and technocratic tendencies in large scale public health projects, as well as in controversies over the regulation of and policies for energy, biomedicine, and the environment. Students are also introduced to the literature on national image making, epitomized in the Nobel prize, and will engage in theoretically informed discussions on the mutual shaping of science, technology, and society.

Expected learning outcomes

After completing Module 1 the student should be able to

Knowledge and understanding:
  • account for the fundamental source materials and research methods regarding the lifeways and habitats of ancient Nordic humans
  • account for the key interpretations and perspectives regarding the diversity and the characteristics of the lifeways and habitats of ancient Nordic humans
  • account for the main roles that the ancient human past has played in the cultural heritage and the popular perceptions of the Nordic countries
Competence and skills:
  • demonstrate an ability to properly communicate and reflect upon relevant academic information in writing and speech 
Judgement and approach:
  • recognize the complexity of long-term intermingled processes of ancient environmental, technological, societal and cultural change in the Nordic area
  • recognize the importance of ethical and source-critical approaches in research, communication and present-day use of ancient human pasts
After completing Module 2 the student should be able to

Knowledge and understanding:
  • the student must have an overall knowledge of the milestones in the history of the Nordic countries
  • the student shall be able to discuss important social, political, and cultural changes in the Nordic countries 
Comptence and skills:
  • the student shall be able to discuss living conditions among people from a class, ethnic and gender perspective
  • the student shall be able to discuss different views among the historians (historiographic perspective) on problems in the history of the Nordic countries
Judgement and approach:
  • discuss and evaluate moral and ethical problems connected to the history of the Nordic countries
  • reflect on the importance of historical knowledge for the understanding of the Nordic countries
After completing Module 3 the student should be able to

Knowledge and understanding:
  • account for the most central source material regarding Old Norse and Sami religion
  • account for the most characteristic traits of Old Norse and Sami mythology and ritual
  • account for the complicated processes of religious change in Scandinavia from the Iron age and onwards
Competence and skills:
  • apply source critical methods and perspectives in comparative religion in the study of the indigenous religions of Scandinavia
  • be able to identify the importance of gender and age, as well as social and ethnic belonging in religious practices and in religious change in Scandinavia
Judgement and approach:
  • reflect on the relevance of knowledge about Old Norse and Sami religion today
After completing Module 4 the student should be able to

Knowledge and understanding:
  • Demonstrate a general understanding of the co-production of science and technology and Swedish society from the early twentieth century until today,
  • Demonstrate deepened knowledge about specific cases and episodes in the Swedish public history of science and technology
Competence and skills:
  • Analyze and problematize changes in the Swedish science-society relationship throughout the twentieth century, 
  • Communicate academic knowledge clearly, both orally and in writing
Judgement and approach:
  • Reflect on the overall role of science and technology for national self-understanding, political culture, and public image

Required Knowledge

General entry requirements

Form of instruction

The course is held in English. Teaching consists of lectures, seminars, group exercises, and individual work. When attendance at lectures or exercises is compulsory, that is, of the examining nature, it is specifically stated in the schedule. In case of absence on a compulsory occasion, supplementary information is provided by the teacher.

Examination modes

The course is examined continuously through assignments, participation in mandatory seminars, and individual exams. Group assignments and seminars are graded with graded with Pass (Godkänd) or Fail (Underkänd). Individual essays and exams are graded with Pass with distinction (Välgodkänd), Pass (Godkänd) and Fail (Underkänd). To pass an individual 7,5 hp module (min. grade G) all mandatory parts are required, and the individual essay(s) must have received the grade G. To receive Pass with distinction (VG) for a module, all mandatory parts are required (grade G), and the individual essay(s) must have received the grade VG. The final grade for the 30 hp course is based on the grades of the individual modules. Grades are set by the Faculty of Humanities' appointed examiner.
Students who fail the examination have a right to retake the examination within two months after the first examination, but not earlier than 10 working days after the results from the original examination has been given to the students and a copy of the exam has been made available. A re-exam must be offered once again within a year. A student who has passed an examination may not be re-examined. 

Students who have twice failed a test for a course or part of the course have the right to request from the Faculty director of studies at Faculty of Arts that another examiner be appointed to determine grades unless special reasons contradict this.

If examinations or compulsory learning sessions cannot be repeated in accordance with current rules for re-examination, they may be replaced by other forms of assignments. The extent and content of such an assignment shall be in proportion to the missing compulsory sessions. 

Deviations from the examination form of the syllabus can be made for a student who has decisions on pedagogical support due to disability. Individual adaptation of the examination form should be considered based on the student's needs. The examination form is adapted within the expected study results of the syllabus. At the request of the student, the teacher responsible for the course, in consultation with the examiner, must quickly decide on the adapted examination form. The decision should then be communicated to the student.
In the event that the syllabus expires or undergoes major changes, students are guaranteed at least three examination sessions (including the regular examination) according to the regulations of the syllabus on which the student was originally registered for a maximum period of two years from the end of the previous syllabus or the course has ceased to be offered..

Other regulations

In a degree, this course may not be included together with another course with similar content. In case of uncertainty, the student should consult Director of Studies at the Department of The Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.


The literature list is not available through the web. Please contact the faculty.