Hermeneutics: An Introduction (DUH270)

Course description for study year 2024-2025. Please note that changes may occur.


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start


Number of semesters


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Language of instruction



This course offers students an introduction to hermeneutics—the branch of philosophy that deals with methods of interpretation. By surveying the historical origins and development of hermeneutics, the course provides students with a venue for reflecting on and articulating their research methods. Students are equipped with a methodological language that enables them to communicate their goals as humanistic researchers. The seminars consider the answers that different traditions of interpretation have offered to questions concerning the methods of humanitic inquiry—how we reconstruct the past in the language of the present, how we assign meaning to texts and others, the importance of dialogue, as well as questions concerning scientific ideals of objectivity and distance from one's subject. A set of core readings introduces students to theological, rationalist, romantic, modern, postmodern and posthuman traditions of interpretation, and supplementary readings of students' own choosing allow them to customise the course to the own research needs. Key themes include language and meaning, dialogue and conversation, text and translation, self and narrative, truth and relativism, history and historicity, politics and critique, being and metaphysics. Students gain familiarity with the key hermeneutic thinkers and are challenged to consider the implications of longstanding methodological debates to their own doctoral projects.

Learning outcome


The student will gain knowledge of:

  • The different interpretive methods employed in the humanities
  • The historical origins, development and transformation of hermeneutics
  • Current methodological debates in the humanities
  • The ethical challenges inherent to the different varieties of interpretation, as well as their social and political consequences.


By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Articulate their research methods by reference to the different varieties of interpretation
  • Account reflexively for their methodological decisions
  • Critically evaluate the ethical, social and political consequences of adopting any one methodological approach, including their own.
  • Engage in academic discourse regarding the nature, purposes and procedures of humanistic inquiry.

General competence

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Reflect critically on methodological conventions found in different fields of the humanities
  • Identify and evaluate intellectual, cultural, ethical and political presuppositions behind different methodological approaches in the humanities.

Required prerequisite knowledge



Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Oral presentation and essay 1/1 Passed / Not Passed

Oral presentation - pass/fail, 10 minute duration; in person; on the topic of the students's self-selected readings and essay (3500 words), self-chosen topic, in consultation with course coordinator, wt. 1/1 Mark: Pass/Fail.

Coursework requirements

Active participation 75%
Active participation in lectures and seminars, at least 75% participation.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Hein Berdinesen

Method of work

The course will be held as lectures and seminars with discussions. A detailed timetable will be made available to course participants in advance of the seminar.

Open for

This course is for PhD candidates in the Faculty of Arts and Education and the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stavanger. PhD candidates in programs at cooperating research institutions may also participate in the course.

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course supervisor, the student union representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital subject evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


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