Course syllabus

Welcome to the course TEK 665 Innovation systems and sociotechnical transitions (7.5 ECTS), which is managed by the division of Environmental Systems Analysis (ESA) at the Department of Technology Management and Economics (TME).

Read the Course PM document for more information.

Zoom links

All remaining sessions (including SE5):

The password for all sessions is tek665. You need to be authenticated (logged in) through your Chalmers e-mail address.

Purpose and intended learning outcomes

The purpose of the course is for students to develop an understanding of (1) the collective aspects of the innovation process and how they can be analysed, (2) conditions and mechanisms for sociotechnical transitions in important societal sectors, such as energy supply, transport, buildings and food, and (3) the possibility to influence innovation and transition processes at the level of technology, industry or sector through organisational strategies and public policy.

When you have passed the course, you should be able to:

  • account for different concepts, theories and frameworks describing innovation and transition processes at the level of technology, industry or sector;
  • account for factors and mechanisms that influence the conditions and possibilities for innovation and sociotechnical transition at the level of technology, industry or sector and explain their consequences for the sustainable development of different societal sectors;
  • critically discuss to what extent the factors and mechanisms can be influenced by firms and other societal actors and what strategies and policy instruments could be required to stimulate innovation or transition in an industry or sector; and
  • apply selected frameworks in an analysis of an industry or sector and based on the analysis formulate recommendations for strategy and public policy.

Changes from last year

Based on feedback received by students last year (which was the first time this course was provided), we have added a number of introductory sessions in the beginning of the course, revised the literature list, removed one assignment, replaced one of the group assignments with an individual assignment, and revised the grading scheme.

Course administration

Please correspond with teachers via email, not via Canvas! All emails should feature the course code TEK665 in the beginning of the subject line in order to be prioritized in the daily pile of emails. The course examiner normally replies to email communication daily, but this is not always possible due to meetings and other obligations.

Course literature

The course literature consists of a collection of scientific articles and book chapters, which for the most part are available via Chalmers library service (otherwise in Canvas). We have selected a mix of recently published pieces and highly cited “classics”, which much of the more recent literature builds on. Together, the selection provide a good base for understanding the core issues dealt with in this research field.

A list with links is provided in the course PM document. All links have been checked recently. If any link in spite of this does not work – let us know so that we can replace them. You need to use your CID or be connected to Chalmers VPN to access some of the library’s electronic resources from home. For more information, see the library’s information on access to electronic resources.

There is quite a lot of literature, but you will not be required to memorize anything. The general articles should be seen as reference articles, which explain the main theoretical frameworks, while the articles for the seminars contain empirical cases, which illustrate how these (and other) frameworks can be applied to understand the innovation and transition dynamics of specific sectors. Collaboration is encouraged – feel free to divide the general articles between you and summarise and explain them to each other.

Course contents and main learning activities

Overview of contents

This course covers different perspectives on the collective aspects of innovation, focusing on frameworks to describe, analyse and explain innovation and transition processes at technology, industry or sector level. The content is divided into four main modules, which all contain both lectures and student-led literature seminars:

  • Technological & sectoral perspectives on innovation. Focuses on literature discussing technology- and sector-specific patterns of innovation, most notably sectoral systems of innovation and production and technological (innovation) systems.
  • Geographical perspectives on innovation. Focuses on literature discussing spatial and geographical aspects of innovation, e.g. regional innovation systems and “multi-scalar” innovation.
  • Sociotechnical transitions. Focuses on literature discussing large-scale sectoral reconfigurations, most notably the multi-level perspective and strategic niche management.
  • Innovation/transition policy. Explores the policy implications of different system perspectives and discusses how other actors in the system could influence innovation and transition processes.

Learning activities and workload

The course is organized as a mix of lectures and student-active learning activities. There are five main types of teaching and learning activities:

  • Own literature studies. The course is rather heavy on literature, so it is important to start reading immediately. We expect you to spend around 80 hours on literature studies.
  • The lectures provide an overview of the literature and present the theoretical platform of the course. Attendance is recommended, but not mandatory. You can either read the assigned literature before the lecture or use the lecture as a structuring device for your reading.
  • Thematic seminars incl. preparations. The seminars are student-led opportunities to discuss and reflect on empirical literature focusing on a particular sector (energy or transport). They include written preparations and oral presentations in small groups as well as individual peer reviews of other students’ work. Attendance is mandatory.
  • Individual reflection report writing. At the end of the course, each student will use insights from the seminar assignments to make a cross-theme comparison and reflect on the strength and weaknesses of different theoretical perspectives for describing and explaining innovation and sociotechnical transitions.

Please note that 7.5 ECTS credits correspond to a workload of about 200 hours.


TimeEdit (see further details in the Course PM document.

Examination and grading

The purpose of the examination is to assess to what extent you have achieved the learning objectives of the course. To pass the course (grade 3), you have to achieve all learning objectives. In order to get a higher grade (4 or 5), you need to demonstrate knowledge and understanding, competences and skills, and judgement and approach beyond the level outlined in the learning objectives. It is very important that you understand what is required of you in relation to different examination tasks. If you do not – ask!

The course is examined through three main examination components, which are described in more detail in a separate assignment instruction document:

  • Seminar assignments (in groups): One oral presentation (sector mapping) and four literature-based assignments with written submissions and oral presentations, which together correspond to 70% of the course grade. Seminar attendance is mandatory.
  • Peer reviews (individual): Four peer reviews of other groups’ submissions and presentations, which together with a couple of bonus points for extra-active seminar engagement correspond to 10% of the course grade.
  • Reflection report (individual): Written cross-thematic comparison with own reflection based on the seminar assignments, which corresponds to 20% of the course grade.

The final course grade is determined by the sum of the achieved point scores on all assignments (see summary table in the course PM document). An individual overall assessment will be done for students who are close to a higher grade.

Read the Course PM document for further information.

Course summary:

Date Details Due