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The Sea and Society Relationship; Historical Perspectives, Present Status and Future Challenges



Course format On-site
Date 2020-08-31 - 2020-11-02
Entry level Bachelor
Cost 29 750 SEK

For YOU interested in how the human society is linked to the marine environment and ecosystem, and how this relationship has changed over history and until present, and how it may change into the future.

The aim of this course is to put into a broad context the human "uses" of the sea through time including emotional and philosophical uses. The course will treat main conflicts and problems associated with historical and current uses, and describe and discuss basic issues like the tragedy of the commons and problems related to collective actions and various governance systems. The course will cover different perspectives, such as, western and non-western, global and local, industrial and artisan.

Form of teaching: Lectures, exercises, discussions, and individual and group reports.

The course may be taken as an elective course within a wide range of master programs at the Faculty of Science, Faculty of Law and Economy, Faculty of Social Science.

More Information


A Bachelor's degree (180 credits) and English B/English 6 at upper secondary level or equivalent IELTS 6.5 where no section may be less than 5.5, or TOEFL 575 points, TWE 4.5 points.

Grant opportunities

EU/EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students do not pay fees. More information on:

Learning outcomes

After completion of the course the student is expected to be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe various human uses of the sea from prehistory to present.
  • Understand emotional and philosophical relationships between man and the sea and their role in different human cultures.
  • Have knowledge about various marine archives.
  • Understand the main environmental impacts and conflicts associated with historical uses and overuses of the seas.
  • Describe and understand the tragedy of the commons and issues related to collective actions.

Competence and skills

  • Identify threats and challenges into the future and disentangle their relationships with different scenarios of development of the human societies, and in addition how these relate to different governance structures.
  • Choose and use methods to analyze various aspects of the sea and society relationships during historical and current times

Judgement and approach

  • Discuss the implications of changes in how various marine resources are valuated and looked upon (e.g. seals as an exotic part of wildlife, or a competitor to the artisan fisheries) by different stakeholders.
  • Assess the shifts of the baseline over historical times and value the importance of this shift.

The course is sustainability-focused, which means that at least one of the learning outcomes clearly shows that the course content meets at least one of the University of Gothenburg’s confirmed sustainability criteria. The content also constitutes the course's main focus.


ISCED Categories

Ocean Literacy
Policy and governance
Conservation and environmental management