Global: Globally Organized Crime and Network Analysis

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


The course's main objective is to introduce students to organized crime and criminal networks and the policies that states and international institutions implement to tackle this global challenge. Through theoretical and empirical examples, the course aims to give students a better understanding of how criminal networks are organized and performed and how regulatory institutions deal with them.

The course will introduce students to ongoing research on central aspects of criminal networks and bring students up to date on the literature in the field, encouraging active participation and independent thinking in engaging with the issues. This course will give students an overview of the research literature on criminal networks and the fight against organized crime. In addition, the course will introduce social network analysis to offer students the methodological tools for exploring criminal organizations empirically. Finally, the course also aims to teach students about the interaction between criminal networks and other global challenges.

The students will engage will the literature and use a dedicated methodology to understand and reveal criminal networks and discuss the instruments to fight against organized crime.


Criminal networks and organized crime take many forms and are linked to several illegal activities: human traffic, drug and illegal substances, money laundering, and, more generally, white-collar crimes, etc. The course will introduce the nature and characteristics of these organizations/networks, their origins, their functioning, and how states, intergovernmental and international institutions fight against them. We will also discuss the methodologies scholars and practitioners use to investigate criminal networks.

Criminal organizations' structure and strategies vary across time and sectors. Some of the more recent white-collar criminal organizations do not operate in the same way as Mafias engaged in human, drug, and other kinds of trafficking. One significant difference is in the hierarchical structure, with financial criminal organizations lacking a clear-cut top-down hierarchy with clearly established godfathers. The linkages between the members are also looser. This affects the fight against these networks. The course will also discuss the transformations and revamping of old structures.

The course aims to provide evidence-based knowledge and encourage students to participate actively in their learning process. The teachers will thus provide the necessary methodological training for students to explore criminal networks.

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student is able to

  • understand the nature and core characteristics of different types of criminal organization.
  • understand the challenges for the public sector and international institutions in the fight against organized crime.
  • understand how criminal networks interact with other global challenges and the need for a global response
  • understand network data and basic network-analytic methods for revealing (and potentially destabilizing) criminal networks   


The student is able to

  • identify, analyze and reflect upon how criminal networks are organized and the instruments used by the public sector and international institutions to fight against organized crimes
  • to identify and reflect the challenges it poses for global governance and fair relations between humans, institutions and businesses
  • to reflect upon arguments and positions put forward in contemporary literature and debates on criminal organizations from different fields (political science, public administration, law, criminology, etc.)
  • to search, find and analyze network data 

General competence

The student can

  • critically relate literature, theories and perspective to various empirical situations
  • engage in debates on how to fight against organized crime and the need for a global response
  • use her/his knowledge of social network analysis to tackle different data
  • write analytical texts

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Spring, irregular
Required Previous Knowledge
Students must have completed a bachelor's degree in political science or equivalent (subject to approval by the administration of the Department of Government), or a bachelor´s degree in social sciences, psychology or law.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
A background in social science theory and methods recommended
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course

The course is open for students who have been accepted to Master programmes at the Department of Government, and from other Master's programmes in the Social Science Faculty.

The course gives priority to students accepted to the Master programmes at the Department of Government. Students accepted to other master's programmes in in the Social Science Faculty can sign up if there are places left. Maximum students per course is fifteen (15) students.

Exchange students at master level may be accepted upon application. Applications may be rejected due to capacity.

Teaching and learning methods
Approximately 6 sessions (including one introduction and one concluding session and four sessions on different thematic blocs), organised as student-led discussions of key readings. 
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

The compulsory assignment includes two research briefs (2-3 pages each) delivered before the respective session based on the assigned readings and some guiding questions to be shared by the teacher. In addition, each student must take co-leadership for moderating one seminar discussion.

Attendance of 4-6 sessions is compulsory.

The compulsory assignment must be approved in order to take the exam. Approved compulsory assignments are valid in the current and following two semesters.

Forms of Assessment

Research essay of 2500 words (+/- 10%, excluding the title page, table of contents, references, tables, and all attachments) on organized crime. The teacher will share guiding questions for the task.

The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught.

The exam answer can be submitted in English.

Grading Scale
Graded A-F
Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester.

A retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence according to § 5-5 in the UiB regulations.

If there is a retake exam, this will be available for students with the follow results/absences:

  • Medical certificate/valid absence
  • Interruption during the exam
  • Fail/failed

If you have the right to take a retake exam and a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absences, you can sign up yourself in Studentweb after 1. August.

Reading List
The reading list will be ready before 1 July for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester.
Course Evaluation
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
Course Administrator
Department of Government at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.