ASTK18423U Global Ocean Politics

Volume 2024/2025

Full-degree students enrolled at the Department of Political Science, UCPH

  • MSc in Political Science
  • MSc in Social Science
  • MSc in Security Risk Management
  • Bachelor in Political Science


Full-degree students enrolled at the Faculty of Social Science, UCPH 

  • Master Programme in Social Data Science


The course is open to:

  • Exchange and Guest students from abroad
  • Credit students from Danish Universities
  • Open University students

A remarkable political re-evaluation of the oceans has taken place - the ocean has returned to the international political agenda. The oceans are increasingly recognized as a new space of insecurity. Maritime crimes – such as piracy or illicit fishing– and regional inter-state contestations – as in the South China Sea or Arctic – are seen as major security challenges. Discourses on the ‘blue economy’ have drawn new attention to the oceans and present them as new economic frontiers, particularly in the Global South. At the same time, recognition has grown that the marine environment is in deep crisis. The detrimental effects of climate change, waste disposal, pollution, accidents, and ineffective marine resource management fundamentally threaten marine ecosystems and sustainability. The aim of this course is to explore the key problems that the oceans are contemporarily facing and how global governors, law enforcement agencies and other actors intend to address them. The course is organized in three blocks. In the first part we revisit the contemporary foundations of ocean governance, including international organizations and the law of the sea. We then revisit the key contemporary ocean discourses. In part two we investigate major issues on the ocean agenda, such as shipping, fishing, piracy, smuggling, or deep seabed mining and how international actors aim at addressing them. Following an independent writing period the course concludes with a workshop where case studies are presented. The course is assessed on the basis of participation and the independent project.

Learning Outcome


  • Gain an understanding of the particularities of the ocean as a global political space
  • Gain in-depth knowledge on the key political, economic, legal and environmental challenges the oceans are facing

  • You will learn and practice core analytical skills including summarizing, processing, interpreting and presenting information and dealing with a large number of data and texts as well as how to write integrative literature reviews and encyclopedic articles


  • You will learn how to conduct small-scale research projects on a contemporary security challenge in writing a literature review and a research report

Bosco, David. 2022. The Poseidon Project. The Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.

Campling, Liam, and Alejandro Colas. 2021. Capitalism and the Sea. The Maritime Factor in the Making of the Modern World. London & New York: Verso.

Khalili, Laleh. 2021. Sinews of War and Trade Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula. London & New York: Verso.

Russell, Denise. 2010. Who Rules the Waves? Piracy, Overfishing and Mining the Oceans. London & New York: Pluto Press.

Sloggett, Dave. 2012. The Anarchic Sea: Maritime Security in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford & New York: Hurst.

Tinti, Peter and Tuesday Reitano. 2018. Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Saviour. London: Hurst.

Urbina, Ian. 2019. The Outlaw Ocean. Journeys across the last untamed frontier. London: The Bodley Head.

Knowledge of international relations and global politics.
The course will be delivered through interactive seminars, an independent writing phase and a closing conference
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
Free written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

- In the semester where the course takes place: Free written assignment

- In subsequent semesters: Free written assignment

Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner