Review of study programmes in history: national overview
This report records the results of the review of study programmes in history at first, second and third cycle conducted by Högskoleverket (Swedish National Agency for Higher Education) in 2008. Study programmes at twenty-one higher education institutions (HEIs) were reviewed at first and second cycle, and study programmes at third cycle were reviewed at nine HEIs.
Four external experts, two from Sweden and two from other Nordic countries, were appointed. The assessment of these experts can be found in their report. This includes a national overview of the subject of history and a description of the subject at every higher education institution.
Study programmes in history at Swedish HEIs are, in general, of a high standard. The external experts are, therefore, in agreement with the external experts from the previous review in 2002. Progression in the study programmes and links to research are, in general, good at all levels. The design of first-cycle programmes is, with a few exceptions, the same at all HEIs. The academic staff is usually experienced and active in research. One problem connected with this is that there is a tendency for the staff employed until further notice to spend most of their time conducting research whilst teachers at first cycle are often employed on fixed-term contracts. Another problem is the amount of time staff members employed until further notice spend on administrative duties.
With regard to second cycle, it is too early to assess the standard of the new two-year Masters programmes. However, the external experts have a favourable view of the progression and levels. The most qualified staff members teach at this level. However, the design of the study programmes varies, particularly with regard to the number of credits awarded for a Master´s dissertation. This can be an obstacle to student mobility.
Third-cycle programmes have been evaluated at the HEIs that have degree-awarding powers in the disciplinary domain. However, Södertörns högskola and Malmö högskola, which do not have these degree-awarding powers, have been included in the review. Linköping Unversity has been excluded from the review as it was evaluated recently when the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education reviewed interdisciplinary third-cycle programmes. The third-cycle programme at JönköpingFoundationUniversity has also been excluded.
The third-cycle programmes have a high standard. The survey carried out by the Agency indicates that, in general, doctoral students are satisfied with their programmes. They consider their employment terms and working conditions to be good but they would like to be better prepared for working life after completion of their doctoral theses. The external experts agree.
The external experts also considered the question of internationalisation. Although the history department have kept up-to date with international theory and methodology, comparative history and international history are in decline. In Sweden, the subject of history is very much oriented to Swedish history and has been closely connected with the development of the nation state. The subject is in need of knowledgeable historians able to analyse what is happening in the rest of the world and explain the background behind these events. This requires more resources for internationalisation. Swedish researchers should be encouraged to publish in international journals. This requires funds for copy-editing. More funding is also required for comparative research and research visits abroad.