British Political History Since 1945
This module will introduce and interrogate British political history since 1945. The module will take students through key issues and controversies in post-war British politics and as they relate to leaders and governments (in lectures) and key debates over controversies (in seminars).
The module will explore a range of issues relating to:
- economic policy
- social policy and the welfare state
- industrial relations
- foreign and defence policy
- local government and nuclear deterrence
Seminars will employ a range of activity-based scenarios to develop student understanding of key crises experienced by leaders and governments since 1945.
Culture and Values in a Changing World
This module explores the shift from modern to postmodern values, looking at questions like levels of trust in democracies, religion and secularisation, and nationalism. While exploring these themes, you will learn the principles of research design and data analysis using Microsoft Excel. Using the World Values Survey and a questionnaire designed by students themselves, you will learn how to compare countries and assess the role of culture in politics.
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
Modern Political Theory
This module introduces you to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Burke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, and Marx. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment). The course will be text based.
Political Theory from Ancient to Modern
This module introduces students to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment). The course will be text based.
Problems in Global Politics
This module explores some of the major problems that exist in contemporary global politics. It introduces you to a wide range of challenges faced by states and non-state actors in the international system and engages with topics ranging from security concerns to economic issues.
The module draws on a wide range of ideas and examples from around the world to help you to better understand global politics.
Understanding Global Politics
This module introduces global politics through the major theoretical, historical and empirical ways of seeing international relations. We consider how different approaches understand global politics, the role of different actors in global politics and different approaches to organising international relations. In particular, the module highlights the major issues of war and peace, and global poverty.
Plus some optional modules from outside the school.
Q-Step Quantitative Methods pathway
You can choose to take a specialised pathway as part of your course, graduating with a MSci International Relations and Global Issues (Quantitative Methods) degree. This pathway is designed to integrate training in the quantitative analysis of a range of datasets. In order to graduate with the 'Quantitative Methods' qualifier, you will need to follow the Q-Step pathway through your degree, selecting 20 credits of Q-Step modules per year (as well as applying the quantitative skills you have developed to your dissertation).
Quantitative Methods for Social Science 1
This module focuses on quantitative methods for the social sciences, and in particular the acquisition of 'quantitative literacy'. The main topics of interest are:
- the character of quantitative data
- their use in description, explanation and forecasting
- their visualisation
- character and use of inferential statistics in the social sciences
- performing basic hypothesis tests
- evaluating reports of quantitative analyses as used in policy, business, regulations and academic literature
- working with statistical software
Throughout the semester there are weekly one-hour lectures, weekly two-hour seminars, plus two four-hour workshops. The module assessment is one 2,000-word piece of coursework.
Quantitative Methods for Social Science 2
This module continues from Quantitative Methods for Social Science 1, which is a prerequisite. The main topics of interest are the character and use of multivariate analysis, and the application of these topics in empirical social science research and in applied non-academic research. Practical training in these topics will be an integral part of the module.
Throughout the semester there are weekly two-hour lectures, weekly two-hour seminars, plus two four-hour workshops. The module assessment is one 2,000-word piece of coursework.
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. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of air power in the post-Cold War security environment, for example, in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency campaigns.
International Politics of Race
This module is designed to provide an introduction to the international politics of race for final-year students.
The module begins discussing changing historical meaning of race and the changing historical critiques of race focusing on the shift from universalist to relativist approaches. The module goes on to discuss the historical meaning of race in international politics; the colonial experience, Second World War, after the Second World War, and the discrediting of racial theories.
The module then considers the evolving international policy approaches toward race and culture, in particular looking at UNESCO's approaches. Finally the module analyses the changing international debates over the politics of race in light of the election of US President Obama.
Re-thinking the Cold War
Questions relating to nationalism and ethnic conflict have become more prominent in political debate since the end of the Cold War, and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated the continuing importance of constitutional crafting as a means to manage ethnic diversity within states.
This module evaluates differing definitions of the 'nation' and 'ethnic group', examines different state strategies to manage diversity such as multiculturalism, assimilation and integration, and considers different explanations of conflict between different ethnic groups.
It then examines in more detail strategies adopted by particular states to manage their diversity. The countries of India, America, France, Afghanistan, the UK, and Germany are focused upon, but students are encouraged to use material relating to other countries if they have particular knowledge of these cases.
The Rights and Wrongs of Climate Change
What should the world do about climate change? How should we proceed in the face of persistent claims that it won't do serious harm, or isn't occurring at all? Should poor countries as well as rich ones be obliged to cut their carbon emissions? Is it wrong for individuals to fly? What if you offset your flight? How much weight should we accord harm that may come many years in the future?
Arguments about climate change raise many of the most controversial issues in contemporary ethics and political theory. This module will examine these debates and the broader questions they hinge on.
This course will offer an overview of the main political institutions and the behaviour of political actors in the United States, applying a variety of analytic concepts and empirical tools to the study of American politics. It will in particular focus on rational choice theories of voters and politicians' behaviours addressing the incentives and constraints faced by politicians when choosing public policies.
By employing theoretical and empirical tools to study public decision making at the federal and state level, the course will highlight the impact of different institutional arrangements on electoral accountability and policies in the United States.
Comparative Electoral Systems
This module offers a comparative analysis of electoral rules. The module will focus on the way electoral institutions work, as well as their effects on political outcomes and behaviour.
It will emphasise the rules used to elect presidents and assemblies, and it will examine electoral rules in countries throughout the world, including the U.S., South America, Eastern and Western Europe, and Asia.
European Union Politics
EU member states by assigning powers to the EU institutions have voluntarily participated in a process that increasingly binds them together. Yet, after all these years of European integration an effective system of political representation is said to be missing.
This module analyses how the growing competencies of the European Union and changing nature of the integration process affect political representation at both the national and European levels. We look at how the EU affects the role of political institutions in the traditional chain of representation in the member states and the wider challenges it poses to democracy.
The main themes include: the current problems of political representation, the impact of the EU on the traditional role of parties as representatives of civil society interests, the preferences of public opinion with respect to the EU, the impact of the EU in national and European elections, the sources and expression of Euroscepticism, the democratic deficit in the EU, referendums and EU democracy, and the future of the European Union.
Gender and Development
This module examines major themes, debates and issues in the field of Gender and Development. We will focus on the relationship between ideas and concerns of gender (in)equality and processes, policies, and practices of economic, social and political development.
We will explore the key literature and major debates in the field of feminist political economy, linking academic, policy-related and practitioner/activist debates. We will cover theoretical and conceptual frameworks as well as key contemporary issues explored through thematic and sector/policy case studies. We will explore how political, economic and social processes of globalisation and development intersect, impact, and are in turn influenced by gender relations in the South.
Ideas and Politics in Contemporary Britain
The aim of this module is to explain and assess the nature and role of ideas and ideologies in British politics. It examines how and why the policies of the 'mainstream' British parties (Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats) have been affected by ideas and ideologies, on the one hand, and by political pragmatism, on the other.
It also explores the ideas, ideologies and policies of minor parties and 'new social movements' (ecologism; fascism, Nazism and racism; feminism; multiculturalism, and nationalism) and their significance for the study and practice of politics in Britain today.
Identity, Territory and Political Conflict
Contemporary events in Scotland and Ukraine have revealed the extent to which the territorial integrity of the state is under challenge. And these developments have parallels across the world, from Quebec to Catalonia and Kosovo. So, this module examines and is structured around the important questions surrounding the relationship between identity, territory and political conflict:
- Why do countries experience the pressure to break-up?
- What explains the rise of regional nationalism?
- What can central governments do about this?
- Why do some nationalist movements become violent while others remain peaceful?
- How does citizens' identity and feelings of belonging influence the way they vote?
- Where devolved and federal arrangements are put into place, how do they affect citizens' lives?
The module adopts a global and comparative perspective, by focusing on countries in specific regions and by studying different data-sets on ethnic conflicts and fiscal arrangements in federations.
Immigration and Citizenship
This module will introduce you to the current issues around migration. You will learn to differentiate between different types of immigration such as asylum, labour, family, and irregular as well as different aspects, such as integration and citizenship. The module will identify and analyse political responses to immigration at both national and supranational levels.
Intervention in Africa
This module analyses political, economic, cultural and especially military intervention in Africa. It focuses on the role of external actors such as international organisations, regional organisations, and NGOs, with a special emphasis on the role of France, the UK and the European Union. We will examine theories, concepts and case studies to explain the nature of contemporary intervention.
- the types and evolution of intervention
- the growing connection betweensecurity and development
- ethics of intervention
- the new landscape of internal conflicts and insecurity
- the role of the International Criminal Court
- EU policies towards Africa
- the difficult relationship between European actors on African issues
Case studies include Rwanda, DRC, Somalia, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Libya.
The module identifies and evaluates the role that Parliament plays in the political system. The module is both descriptive and analytical, comprising an introduction to Parliament (such as its place in the political process, the impact of party) and an investigation into the effectiveness or otherwise of its scrutiny and influence of selected sectors of government responsibility.
It covers the process of legislation, scrutiny, and links with the public. The module also considers the role of the House of Lords.
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.
This module involves part-time placement (one day a week) in an external organisation, and is aimed at developing hands-on work experience and employability skills in a workplace relevant to students of politics. Pre-placement training will be provided via three half-day workshops at the beginning of the module.
Each placement will be arranged by the work placement officer. Placements will be provided by organisations involved in private, public and third sector organisations, such as the civil service, charities and political parties.
Departmental mentoring will take the form of a weekly drop-in tutorial with the module convenor, in which experiences are shared and work is undertaken on the assessment tasks. Group presentations will occur during the final four hour workshop, at which time each group will critically reflect on their experiences of the ethos and goals of their host organisation.
Property and its Critics
Our world is dominated by institutions of private property. Why? What justifies the existence of private property? Why should (these) owners own (this) property? What could justify vast disparities in the ownership of the world's finite resources? Why does (almost) nobody ask these questions?
These are the issues that are explored in this module drawing on a wide range of texts and arguments, ancient and modern.
The War in Iraq
This module will comprehensively deconstruct the causes, conduct and consequences of one of the most controversial wars of the modern era: the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It will assess how the road to war was paved at the United Nations and through the formulation of a 'coalition of the willing'. It will then critically evaluate how the swiftly concluded invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein gave way to a vicious insurgency.
The adaptation of the US military to the demands of counter-insurgency warfare will be analysed, as will British military performance in southern Iraq. The module will end by critically assessing the effectiveness of the 'surge' strategy under the implementation of Gen. David Petraeus, and evaluating the utility of 'analogical reasoning' through comparisons with the Vietnam War.
This module enables you to undertake a sustained piece of research and analysis into a subject within the discipline of politic and international relations.
Comparative Democratic Development
At the dawn of the 21st century, the status of democracy across the world is uncertain. In Central and Eastern Europe, it has become the only game in town, but in other regions like Russia or the Arab World it has suffered reversals.
To make sense of these events, this module examines and is structured around some of the big, important questions that have long interested political scientists around the questions of democracy:
- What is democracy?
- Why are some countries democratic and others not?
- How did democracy emerge in different countries?
- What difference does democracy make for people's lives?
The module adopts a global and comparative perspective, by focusing on countries in specific regions and by studying different data-sets on the design, functioning and influence of democratic institutions.
Designing Political Enquiry
The module is designed to allow you to develop a critical understanding of the methodological issues involved in designing and undertaking political science research and to strengthen their ability to read and evaluate political science literature more generally.
The first part of the module focuses on issues of research design in political science, in particular, the use of the comparative method in political science research. It exposes you to a broad range of methodological issues involved in designing, conducting and writing up research based on a relative small number of cases in areas of comparative politics, international relations, and public policy. Topics that are addressed in the module include issues involved in developing a research question, problems of conceptualisation, measurement, and strategies and approaches to causal theorising in small N research.
The second part of the module addresses various methods of generating and processing data for political science research. Methods that are covered include the use of documentary sources, observation, and various forms of interviewing.
Europe and the Developing World
This module analyses the decision-making process and current policy issues in both economic (first pillar) and political and security (CFSP: Common Foreign and Security Policies, and ESDP: European Security and Defence Policies) policies within the European Union.
We will examine theories, concepts and case studies to explain the nature of contemporary EU policies towards Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
- theorising EU security policies
- instruments of security policies
- issues such as post-colonialism
- ethics of intervention
- just war theory
- asylum policies
- migration policies
- the fight against terrorism and WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)
This module examines major themes, debates and issues related to the study of politics and international relations in the specific regional context of Asia. It will explore key features and themes in Asian politics including political systems, political economy and development, political values and ideas, as well as pan-Asian themes and international relations/global politics including intra-regional, trans-regional and international issues. It combines theoretical perspectives with historical developments and contemporary issues in Asian politics.
Topics will include:
- democracy and democratisation
- authoritarianism and hybrid regimes
- "Asian values" and humanitarianism, nationalism, political economy of development
- gender relations
- affirmative action
- terrorism, non-traditional security and human security
- resource politics
- nuclear Asia
- environmental challenges
- Asia on the global stage
This module examines how nations have sought to integrate political, economic, and military goals to preserve their long-term interests. It analyses a variety of national strategies in order to understand how geography, history, culture, and finance influence decision making at the highest levels of government in times of war and peace.
The module draws on scholarship from the fields of international relations, diplomatic history, and strategic studies to provide students with a more nuanced understanding of great power politics.
International Political Economy
The study of international political economy is essentially interdisciplinary, based on the premise that the political and economic domains are inextricably intertwined in the international system.
The module will introduce you to the main approaches to international political economy, provide a brief overview of the post-war international political economy, before the main focus is turned towards globalisation and the related structural changes in the global economy. This will include a theoretical engagement with the concepts of globalisation, regionalisation and regionalism as well as an analysis of empirical changes in the areas of international trade, finance, production and development with a particular emphasis on the current global economic crisis.
The module will further address the question of the relationship between globalisation and the individual instances of regional integration including the EU, NAFTA and APEC, before it looks at recent formations of resistance to globalisation expressed in demonstrations against G8 meetings (eg Heligendamm 2007) as well as developments around the European and World Social Forums.
Justice Beyond Borders: Theories of International and Intergenerational Justice
The module introduces and explores the concept of distributive justice on an international and intergenerational basis. Standard accounts of distributive justice typically operate upon the assumption that the relevant principles are framed by, and apply within the borders of the nation-state.
This module examines how justice has traditionally been conceptualised, and challenges the idea of the nation-state as providing limits to the proper operation of principles of justice. Justice between nations, and between generations, as well as between humans and non-humans, forms the focus of this module.
The programme for dealing with these themes includes: international theories of justice, with particular reference to faminie relief and humanitarian intervention; intergenerational justice and personal identity, 'biocentric' theories of justice; animal rights; and, direct political action.
Politics of South Asia
This module introduces you to the politics of modern South Asia, focusing on Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The region is growing in international importance both strategically, economically and politically. The module evaluates alternative explanations for the different democratic trajectories of these states, despite their shared colonial past, and the interaction between 'tradition' and 'modernity' in developing political institutions.
In so doing it examines the different strategies of nation building adopted by the elites of these very diverse states, and how and why the considerable ethnic and religious diversity of the region has impacted on the 'quality' of democracy. It concludes with an examination of the international politics of South Asia, and considers future scenarios for the region.
Quantitative Political Analysis
This module introduces you to the estimation, quantification, and coding of political data as well as the descriptive and inferential analysis of data using probabilistic and statistical techniques.
The module will also provide you with hands-on skills of data analysis and will enable you to write professional academic reports on these analyses.
The Road to Guantanamo: the treatment and experience of prisoners, civilian internees and detainees since 1860
This module explores the way in which state authorities have treated prisoners of war, civilian internees and detainees from circa 1860 - the dawn of the modern era of international humanitarian law - to the present day. It examines developments in state practice and international law relating to the detention of 'enemy' individuals, and explores different national, ideological and cultural approaches to the issue of captivity.
The module is explicitly historical in character and methodology but will draw on international and political theory where appropriate to explain state and individual behaviour.
Secret Intelligence and International Security
An introduction to the concepts and practices of secret intelligence and its place within international security. The module is split into three sections.
The first examines conceptual issues and models; the second explores some of the roles of intelligence in the 21st century; and the third examines how intelligence actors can actively shape international relations. These are highly relevant issues, which are regularly in the media and in which students are interested.
Slavery Since Emancipation
This module explores how slavery and the response to slavery changed after the end of legal slavery in late 19th century.
You will examine several themes including:
- the social, moral, and political re-definition of slavery, and the way this re-definition shaped modern concepts of human rights
- America's botched emancipation in 1865 and after; the emergence of 'slavery by another name'
- the emergence of non-governmental organisations from the anti-slavery movement and their growth into a major influence in today's world
- uses of 'new' technologies by the anti-slavery movements
- the 'third' anti-slavery movement - The Congo Reform Association - King Leopold and the genocide/slavery nexus
- use of forced labour by colonial powers and the emergence of global anti-slavery conventions within the League of Nations
- the economic transformation of slavery as an economic pursuit in the late 20th and early 21st centuries
Case studies will also be offered to illuminate global patterns of change in relation to slavery.
Terrorism and Insurgencies
This module is designed to acquaint you with two of the most important aspects of contemporary international security: terrorism and insurgencies.
Both threats have become more acute in recent years and much intellectual, military and economic capital has been used up in efforts to contain them. In taking this module, you will begin to understand the nature of the threats posed by terrorists and insurgents. You will understand how such threats come about and why individuals are drawn towards exercising the use of force against certain governments, their representatives, and the citizens of those governments.
You will also understand the nature and scope of counter-insurgency practices. You will discuss what works and what does not and the controversies encountered in implementing certain measures. By the end of the module, you will be conversant with, and have an appreciation of, factors which affect the security of many people in today's world.
The Theory and Practice of Diplomacy
This module focuses on the changing nature of diplomatic practice, together with the range of conceptual tools that seek to explain this international activity. Its focus is contemporary.
It provides a political analysis of new developments such as the public diplomacy, the decline of resident embassies and foreign ministries, and the role of regional/multinational organisations and summitry. It also encourages you to consider future theoretical and practical developments in this field.
War, Peace and Terror
This module explores the blurring boundaries between war and peace, and the implications for understanding security.
The first section assesses the changing nature of warfare, including theories of asymmetric warfare and terrorism; the second section examines the 'dark arts' of international relations, from assassination to psychological warfare, operating in the grey area between war and peace.
With large scale conventional warfare increasingly unlikely, the third section considers 'new' security issues in peacetime such as poverty and disease.
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.