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Unipolarity Without Hegemony: Pax Americana in the 21st Century

The aim of the course is to provide master students with enhanced knowledge in, and understanding of, the concepts of unipolarity and hegemony within the contemporary study of political science and international politics.

As well as with an ability to employ them with respect to theoretical and empirical claims about the United States’ current position of power in the world.

How do these two concepts relate to each other and how can they help characterize the US’s role in international politics? What is the special position of the United States in the world and which are the properties of the present world order, Pax Americana? How do international security institutions operate in the light of that order? Which signs of erosion of Pax Americana are visible in various parts of the world and what are the risks accompanying that development?

The course highlights how the exertion of American power is being strengthened and reproduced through transnational and international cooperation, but also how US influence is subverted, indirectly and directly, by anassortment of actors. Overall the course offers the participants good opportunities to reflect over their own assumptions about today’s world order and the special position of the United States within it, based on a set of relevant analytical and theoretical concepts. In a concluding essay the participants will furthermore take a stand on some of the most important issues raised by the course literature, completing a writing assignment in which they develop and substantiate arguments for or against continued unipolarity, with or without the United States at its center, enduring for the rest of the 21st century.

  • Course structure

    Teaching format

    The course encompasses interactive seminars with intermittent, short lectures by the teacher.


    The course is examined through continuous oral examinations and one written part, by discussions based on study questions and a written essay and examination of another student's essay.

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

  • Contact

    Course responsible teacher
    Kjell Engelbrekt

    Student counsellor

    Student office