Core economics modules
Foundations of Economics
This year-long introductory module covers microeconomics in semester one and macroeconomics in semester two. There is no assumption of any prior knowledge of economics.
You will begin by analysing how the economic choices of households and firms can be understood using consumer and producer theory. You will then look at how these individual choices are aggregated into market demand and supply to be mediated through the price mechanism. A variety of market settings are considered, ranging from the paradigm of perfect competition to strategic interactions in oligopolistic markets.
The microeconomics part of the module concludes by providing an introduction to the normative evaluation of economic outcomes in terms of individuals' welfare, covering market and government failures.
The macroeconomics part of the module focuses on the aggregate economy, considering the determinants of aggregate output, addressing cyclical movements of booms and busts in the short run, and providing an introduction to economic growth in the long run. A running theme will be debates over the role of the government in macroeconomic management, covering fiscal and monetary policy.
The first half of the module provides an introduction to the mathematical methods required for economic modelling, focusing on:
- mathematical finance
- analysis of functions
- supply and demand
- matrix algebra
- elasticities, maximisation/minimisation
- optimisation subject to constraints
The second half introduces the statistical methods and concepts most applicable in economics. The analysis of economic data necessarily proceeds in an environment where there is uncertainty about the processes that generated the data. Statistical methods provide a framework for understanding and characterising this uncertainty.
These concepts are most conveniently introduced through the analysis of single-variable problems. However, economists are most often concerned about relationships among variables. The module builds towards the study of regression analysis, which is often applied by economists in studying such relationships.
This module aims to introduce you to the essential skills required for writing as an economist. It will be delivered in conjunction with Libraries, Research and Learning Resources (LRLR), who will cover content on key information skills relating to the library and learning resources.
It will give an introduction to the language of economics and basic research skills and how to write essays and exams. Among the topics covered will be:
- academic integrity and plagiarism
- time management
- writing essays
- writing quantitative projects
- presentation skills
- referencing and using the internet
- revision and examinations
Core philosophy modules
This module provides an introduction to modern logic. The module is intended to supply that basic minimum knowledge of logic and its technical vocabulary which every philosophy student requires in order to understand a lot of modern philosophical writing.
We introduce the symbolism of modern logic, practice translation between that symbolism and English and discuss in an introductory way the theory of the structure of thought implicit in the symbolism.
Introduction to Ethics
This module introduces you to some of the main ethical questions studied by philosophers. The first part focuses on some contemporary moral problems (for example, the justification of punishment).
The second part of the course looks at some normative ethical theories and concepts that provide ways of approaching such moral problems.
The third part of the course considers some challenges to the idea of systematic moral inquiry (such as relativism, egoism and emotivism).
Reasoning and Argument: An Introduction to Philosophical Method
This module introduces a series of key skills relevant to the aims and methods of philosophical inquiry. It is designed to help you understand the nature and structure of arguments, acquire critical tools for assessing the arguments of others, and improve your ability to present your own reasoning in a clear and rigorous manner.
The module also aims to assist the development of an independent, reflective and self-managed approach to study, and to familiarise you with the abilities and competences that are expected to be developed during your degree.
Appearance and Reality
This module involves an examination of some of the central themes in philosophy that are found at the intersection of metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of science. Topics covered include induction, time-travel, knowledge and justification, constitution and identity, and the laws of nature.
In the process of exploring these topics we will explore a range of foundational topics in metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of science.
Self, Mind and Body
The module introduces you to several central issues in the philosophy of self, mind and body. These issues are of great importance in the history of philosophy, and they continue to attract significant contemporary philosophical attention.
We will examine Descartes' foundational contributions in his Meditations, with particular attention to his discussions of dualism and mind-body interaction. We will also study several related topics, including contemporary theories of mind.
Core politics modules
Introduction to Comparative Politics
This module seeks to compare and contrast the decision-making structures of modern democratic states. Topics to be covered will include:
- government and the state
- the comparative approach
- constitutions and the legal framework
- democratic and authoritarian rule
- political culture
- the political executive
- political parties and party systems
- electoral systems and voting behaviour
- the crisis of democracy
Plus one optional politics module.
Core economics modules
Principles of Macroeconomics
The modules covers intermediate macroeconomics covering simple macro-models of goods, labour and money markets, such as IS-LM and aggregate supply/aggregate demand, including open economy extensions. Dynamic issues incorporating expectations and long run growth will also be considered. The module will analyse policy questions surrounding exchange rates, monetary and fiscal policy, budget deficits and debt.
Principles of Microeconomics
This module covers microeconomics including general equilibrium analysis, welfare economics, social choice, elementary game theory, and strategic behaviour of different actors such firms, voters and governments.
Plus two modules from philosophy:
Being, Becoming and Reality
We look at some fundamental metaphysical questions about the cosmos. A selection of the following topics will be studied:
- Objects: concrete vs. abstract; existence and nothingness
- Sets and mereology
- Properties, Property bearers, Relations
- States of affairs and non-mereological composition
- Modality (including counterfactuals) and possible worlds
- Time, persistence, change, and the non-present
Freedom and Obligation
This module combines consideration of the political philosophy of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and J.S. Mill with related themes in contemporary debates. The module is designed to introduce you to each of the thinkers and then to consider how related issues are treated by contemporary writers. Thus the module combines a thinker-based approach to studying political philosophy with a topic-based approach.
Knowledge and Justification
This module explores contemporary treatments of issues pertaining to knowledge and the justification of belief. It addresses issues such as:
- the structure of justification and its relation to one's mental states and evidence (foundationalism vs. coherentism; internalism vs.externalism; evidentialism)
- the justification of induction
- the notion of a priori justification
- the relation between your evidence and what you know
- the natures of perceptual experience and perceptual knowledge
- safety and contextualist theories of knowledge
- Moore's response to skepticism
- testimonial knowledge, "virtue" epistemology and its relation to "reliabilist" epistemology
Mind and Consciousness
This module aims to introduce you to some of the major issues within contemporary philosophy of mind. We will examine four topics and the interactions between them:
- Mental causation
- The status of physicalism
The Nature of Meaning
The module begins with an exploration of various theories of naming, paying particular attention to the works of Frege, Russell (including the theory of descriptions), and Kripke. We then turn our attention to various puzzles concerning the nature of meaning, including the distinction between analytic and synthetic sentences.
In the final part of the module, we move on to a discussion of some of the mainstream theories of meaning; particularly, a truth-conditional semantics, and we explore how this might be developed to take into account indexical terms such as 'I', 'now', and 'here'. Some of the skills acquired in Elementary Logic will be applied in this module.
Normative ethics is the branch of moral philosophy that attempts to systematise everyday judgements about the rightness and wrongness of actions. In everyday life we commonly form opinions about such things as whether euthanasia should be legalised, or how we should balance the competing goals of fighting terrorism and protecting individual liberties, for example.
Are these judgements on diverse topics logically disconnected, or should they conform to some common structure or pattern? The focus of this module is on the three main attempts to systematise them that have been made by moral philosophers.
The first, consequentialism, holds that the rightness or wrongness of actions is wholly determined by their goodness. The second, deontology, holds that there are moral constraints on acting such that it can sometimes be wrong to act in a way that brings about the best results. The third, virtue ethics, emphasises the relationship between right action and good and bad character.
This module will address some key issues in social philosophy, or key ideas from thinkers in social philosophy. Indicative topics that might be covered include:
- philosophy of gender
- philosophy of race
- philosophy of disability
- philosophy of relationships and friendship
- slavery and abolition
- social and psychological oppression
- the political thought of Hannah Arendt
Special Topic in the History of Philosophy
Philosophers have often contributed to huge advances in science and technology, while at the same time witnessing, and sometimes causing, political and social upheaval on a grand scale. In this module, we shall track the philosophical thoughts and motivations behind some of these advances and upheavals.
The module will proceed via a close reading of primary texts, drawing on additional material by scholars, background material and influential responses. Possible subjects are some of the writings of, for example, Aristotle, Descartes, Margaret Cavendish, Isaac Newton, Thomas Reid, Emilie Du Chatelet, David Hume, Jean Le Rond D'Alembert and Mary Shepherd.
Please note: the module is not a survey of the history of philosophy, and it may focus on the writings of only one philosopher in any given year that it runs.
Plus chosen modules from politics:
Approaches to Politics and International Relations
The module introduces you to alternative theoretical approaches to the study of political phenomena.
We consider the different forms of analysing, explaining, and understanding politics associated with approaches such as:
- rational choice theory
- interpretive theory
The module shows that the different approaches are based upon contrasting 'ontological' suppositions about the nature of politics, and they invoke alternative 'epistemological' assumptions about how we acquire valid knowledge of politics and international relations.
British Party Politics
Political parties were central to the British political system throughout the 20th century and remain so at the beginning of the 21st. Despite persistent criticism, and perennial claims of their 'decline', parties are an essential component of any student's understanding of British politics and remain the central means by which the electorate passes judgement on the government.
This module examines the structure, ideology and history of British political parties. Topics covered include how the major and minor parties fought the 2015 general election, along with a discussion of how parties adapt to change.
This module explores issues in global security since the end of the Cold War. It focuses on security in a broad sense, from issues relating to the use of force by states, through to violence by non-state actors, such as terrorist groups, and on to the concept of human security.
The module builds on the first year modules, Understanding Global Politics and Problems in Global Politics, challenging you to deepen your theoretical as well as empirical knowledge in international security. It is also a preparation for the research-led third year modules that require a much more developed capacity of analysing empirical developments from a range of different theoretical perspectives.
International Political Economy and Global Development
This module studies the historical development of international political economy with a specific focus on development as well as the different ways this can be theoretically analysed.
While some speak about the internationalisation of the temporary order, others think in terms of more drastic changes and define them as globalisation. Similarly, while some are very optimistic that increasing free trade administered by the WTO will lead to general development, others argue that this is precisely the mechanism, with which underdeveloped countries are kept in a situation of dependence.
Based on the teaching of background information on different IPE theories and the immediate post-war period, it is these kinds of questions the module will be addressing. The module builds on the first year modules Understanding Global Politics and Problems in Global Politics, challenging you to deepen your theoretical as well as empirical knowledge in IPE.
It is also a preparation for the research-led third year modules, which require a much more developed capacity of analysing empirical developments from a range of different theoretical perspectives.
Social and Global Justice
'Justice' has been one of the key themes of political theory at least from the time of Plato, as questions of who gets what, when, and why are absolutely central to political discourse. Should people be able to keep what they earn with their talents, or is it only fair to take wealth away from those who have it to give to those who have little? Do different cultures deserve equal 'recognition'?
Recently these questions of distributive and social justice have taken on a global dimension. Does the developed world have obligations to distant others, and do they have rights against it?
This module will look at these questions from a contemporary perspective, looking at ideas about justice from thinkers such as the utilitarians, John Rawls, Thomas Pogge, Susan Moller Okin, and Bhikhu Parekh.
You will be able to take either 40 credits worth of modules from each of politics, philosophy and economics, or 60 credits worth of modules from any two of politics, philosophy and economics.
Optional economics modules
Covering advanced topics such as:
This module adopts a broad focus on factors influencing growth and development. Topics covered include macroeconomic policies, aid, debt, trade; growth experiences in East Asia, China and Africa.
Experimental and Behavioural Economics
This module provides a window on three important sub-areas of experimental and behavioural economics. The first focuses on design issues and individual decision-making, the next two sections focus on applications to the study of strategic behaviour and market behaviour.
You do not need to have studied experimental or behavioural economics before because all topics will be introduced at a level that will be accessible to the newcomer. The module is, nevertheless, suitable as a sequel to the year two module Experimental and Behavioural Economics because the contents of the two modules cover distinct, but complementary, topics.
This module covers:
- dynamic general equilibrium models, focusing on how the time path of consumption, and saving, is determined by optimising agents and firms that interact on competitive markets
- growth in dynamic general equilibrium, focusing on the Solow model and the data, and the role played by accumulation of knowledge (endogenous innovation) in explaining long run growth
- Real Business Cycles (RBC), focusing on how the RBC approach accounts for business cycle fluctuations, and what links short run fluctuations and growth processes
The module will cover topics in advanced microeconomics and decision theory. The precise content may vary from year to year, but the module will start from the basis established by the Microeconomic Theory module.
This module will provide an outline of the elements of monetary theory and of theoretical policy issues.
This module provides an advanced economic analysis of the theory of organisation of firms and industries. It will analyse a variety of market structures related to the degree of market competition with a special emphasis on imperfectly competitive markets. It will also analyse issues related to the internal organisation of firms.
International Trade Policy
This module looks at:
- trade policy - theory and evidence
- trade policy and imperfect competition
- trade and distortions
- the political economy of protection
- trade policy reform
Optional philosophy modules
The module will focus on a critical examination of core aspects of Buddhist thinking, with emphasis on some of its basic psychological, spiritual, and metaphysical conceptions, in particular, the origin and nature of suffering, the no-self thesis, enlightenment, consciousness, experiential knowing, and the doctrine of Emptiness (lack of inherent nature in all things and impermanence).
The module will focus particularly on Nâgârjuna's philosophy of the 'middle way' and some modern commentaries on it. The module will approach Buddhism as a philosophical world-view, rather than as a religious one. The module will not be involved in detailed exegesis of ancient texts. When possible the module will try to link Buddhist conceptions to contemporary ideas about personhood, consciousness and the fundamental nature of reality.
Philosophy of Criminal Law
There is perhaps no more vivid example of the exercise of state power over individuals than through the institution of criminal law. The criminal law raises a host of important philosophical questions, such as these:
- Is there a general obligation to obey the law? If so, what is the basis for this obligation?
- What sorts of acts should be criminalised, and why?
- What does it mean for someone to be responsible for a crime, or for the state to hold someone responsible?
- What is the proper role for the presumption of innocence: Who must presume whom to be innocent of what? Is criminal punishment justified? If so, why?
- Is the state ever justified in imposing legal restrictions on offenders even after they have completed their punishment?
- How should the criminal law function in the international context?
Readings will include seminal works by historical figures such as Plato, Bentham, and Kant, as well as prominent work by more contemporary philosophers such as Hart, Hampton, Duff, and others. All reading assignments for this module are accessible to students with no training in criminal law.
Optional politics modules
Politics and Drugs
This module studies the implications of the growing abuse of narcotics for the political system from both a national and international perspective. It will examine the production, consumption and trade in drugs as an international problem.
The development of and issues associated with contemporary British drug policy will be explored and the theoretical questions raised by drug control policy will be examined.
Airpower and Modern Warfare
The invention of the aircraft fundamentally changed the ways in which wars are fought and won. Over the course of only a century airpower developed into an indispensable instrument of warfare. Today, war without airpower is an unlikely prospect and major military operations, as a rule, are launched with overwhelming air attacks.
In recent years, however, the utility of 'strategic' airpower has increasingly come under question. Whilst technological innovation continues to strengthen airpower's capabilities, the relevance of these capabilities in contemporary conflicts cannot be taken for granted.
This module critically assesses the role of air power in modern conflict within the broader framework of strategic and security studies. It will assess the evolution of air power theory since the First World War and examine the limits of its practical application with reference to specific air campaigns.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.