Classification Studies,

Course content

Classification is a daily human activity. We cannot use language without classifying objects in the world, and whenever we order items into groups, we in effect classify them. Likewise, in the digital world classification is ubiquitous. This goes for most information systems, including websites, as well as our interactions with such systems. We shall in this course study classification both from a conceptual and a digital perspective, and we shall study the close interaction between the two perspectives. The conceptual perspective will involve concepts and methods of classification, including their background in philosophy as well as information science. The digital perspective will involve studying and using methods of developing class structures, following a widespread standard used in many digital companies. In this connection we shall also be using software tools for generating suitable class diagrams. The two perspectives, conceptual and digital, go hand in hand and support each other. But at the same time, we shall also look critically at the limitations which go with the concepts and methods of classification studied.

Learning outcome

Academic aims

At the exam, the student can demonstrate

knowledge and understanding of: 

  • selected theories on classification and categorisation
  • the interaction between systems, media and platforms for classification 
  • the societal, technological and cultural preconditions for classification practices.


skills in: 

  • apply the subject's theories, concepts and methods to analyse selected classification practices in various societal, cultural and historical contexts.
  • analyse and discuss one or more selected studies of classification practices.


competencies to:

  • reflect independently on the applicability of various theories in order to illustrate a given analytical issue
  • discuss, in a critical manner, the use of methodology and theory in existing analyses
  • evaluate different classification practices in a cultural, technological and societal perspective.

Lectures, in-class exercises, discussions, student presentations.

Examples of literature that will be used in the course:

  • Bowker, Geoffrey C., & Susan Leigh Star. 2000. Sorting things out: Classification and its consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Gerti, Kappel & Heumer, Christian & Marion, Scholz & Seidl, Martina. 2014. UML @ Classroom. Springer International Publishing AG).

  • Gnoli, Claudio. In Press. “Genealogical Classification”. Knowledge Organization. Also available in ISKO Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization at 

  • Hjørland, Birger. 2017. “Classification”. Knowledge Organization 44, no. 2: 97-128.  Also available in ISKO Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization at

The forms of feedback are to be considered as possibilities - for instance individual feedback to a student who has answered an assignment individually, and collective feedback to a group of students who have answered an assignment collectively

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Language: English
Extent: 16-20 standard pages for an individual exam
The written assignment consists of portfolio exercises written during the course and subsequently revised prior to the final submission deadline.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 234,8
  • Exam
  • 120
  • English
  • 410,8