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INT6100 The Nobel Peace Prize – What, Why and to Whom? (10 sp)

This course will analyze the ideas behind and the actual practice(s) expressed by the Nobel Peace Prize, which is handed out in Oslo every year – the city of Oslo New University College.

About the Course

The Nobel Peace Prize is arguably – alongside the other Nobel Prizes – the world’s most prestigious award, and it leads to debate, inspiration, and controversy every time it is handed out. Where does it come from, what does it represent and advocate, and who gets it? 

We will primarily analyze the following three themes during the course, with the aid of readings, lectures, and classroom discussions: 

  • Nobel and his will: What does it say, which values does it advocate, and how can it be interpreted today?
  • The idea of peace as it is expressed through the history of the peace prize
  • Selected laureates from Nobel history: biographies, writings, and ideas

After completing this course, the student is expected to have acquired the following learning outcomes:


  • gain knowledge of the background to and historical development of the Nobel Peace Prize
  • get familiar with the biographies and ideas of Alfred Nobel and a selection of laureates
  • have a general understanding of the process of nominating and selecting the laureates
  • understand the will of Alfred Nobel and know the controversies and debates related to the interpretation of his will
  • define, evaluate and explain the concept of peace, and how the prize has influenced our understanding of peace


  • assess the significance and impact of the prize itself. 
  • evaluate and discuss previous and future laureates. 
  • critically discuss peace as a concept and to what extent the prize has redefined peace. 


  • actively participate in discussions about the Nobel Peace Prize. 
  • use relevant literature to study biographies. 
  • employ critical thinking on a broad range of issues related to peace. 


  • take home exam (individual essay); memo: 3000 words (+/- 10 % excluding front page and reference list) (60 % of the grade, grading system A – F) 
  • 3 hour written exam (40 % of the grade, grading system A – F)