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
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.
Plus two modules from a list provided by politics.
Core economics modules
Careers and Employability for Economists
This module aims to provide a means for enabling students to reflect on their personal development and the implications this might have for their future career paths. It will include:
- guidance on recording and evaluating skills
- guidance on careers from the Careers and Employability Service
- information, guidance and advice form a range of graduate employers and alumni
Introduction to Macroeconomics
This is a single semester introductory module in macroeconomics. Macroeconomics is the study of the aggregate economy, focusing on the cyclical pattern of aggregate output and co-movement of real and monetary aggregates in general equilibrium.
This module introduces a series of basic models used in modern macroeconomics, with a particular focus on dynamic general equilibrium modelling tools and techniques necessary to build theoretical models.
Introduction to Microeconomics
This module is an introduction to microeconomics, including behaviour of firms and households in situations of competitive and imperfectly competitive markets.
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.
This module covers the following:
- Introduction to mathematical economics: mathematical finance
- Analysis of functions
- Supply and demand
- Matrix algebra
- Optimisation subject to constraints
- Lagrange multipliers
Quantitative Economics II
The module introduces those 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.
Econometrics has been described as "the point where economic theory confronts reality". Besides the comparison of economic theoretical predictions with actual outcomes, this analysis allows quantitative flesh to be put on theoretical bones. Since the subject is essentially data analytical, econometrics relies heavily on statistical methods. Of course the study of econometrics requires a firm basis in the fundamental principles of statistical methodology.
The purpose of this module is to introduce some of these principles, so that its subject matter is basic statistical inference rather than econometrics proper. That subject matter has been applied in many branches of the sciences, social sciences and humanities. Here we concentrate on statistical distribution theory and statistical inference in the first half of the course. The second half deals with the linear regression model, whose extensions will be analysed in detail in subsequent econometrics modules.
This module provides an introduction to the mathematical methods required for economic modelling, focusing on linear algebra, optimisation and their role in formulating and solving economic problems.
Optional politics modules include:
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.
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.
Core politics modules
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.
How Voters Decide
Elections are the foundation of representative democracy. The act of voting creates a link between citizens' preferences and government policy. This means that the choices voters make have important consequences. But, how do voters make these choices? Are they based on the policies that parties promise to enact in the future, or is it more about the policy successes (or failures) that parties have experienced in the past? Does the party's leader make a difference? Can campaigns or the media's coverage change how voters see their electoral choices? Finally, given the importance of elections, why do many citizens choose to abstain from the process altogether?
How Voters Decide will explore the choices that citizens make when they participate in elections and it will provide students with the skills necessary to evaluate arguments about electoral behaviour in Britain and beyond.
Core economics modules
This module will address both the fundamental and applied aspects of macroeconomic theory. In particular, the module will focus on:
- introducing the modern theory of expectations and economic dynamics
- using this approach to think about short run fluctuations
- studying the role of macro policy on short run fluctuations
The module will review the so-called modern approach to aggregate demand and aggregate supply. This entails incorporating into the classical approach to aggregate supply and aggregate demand insights from Keynesian economics. This will serve as a base to discuss the role of macro-policy in controlling for fluctuations in output and employment.
This module covers intermediate microeconomics including general equilibrium analysis, welfare economics, elementary game theory, and strategic behaviour of firms.
Optional politics modules include:
Civilisation and Barbarism
This module explores some of the major themes in the study of international relations. Power and order feature prominently, but so too do war and disaster, imperialism and race, totalitarianism and emancipation, law and human rights.
The course is distinctive in two respects. First, the study of these themes each week takes its bearings from a significant text, and that text in its entirety. Second, the emphasis is on the interplay between the form and style of these texts and the ideas they contain. This inquiry is interesting and important in itself, and should also help you appreciate texts encountered elsewhere during your studies.
Comparative European Politics
This module aims to provide you with a systematic introduction to current debates in the comparative analysis of European politics.
The module adopts a thematic approach and focuses on traditional fields of comparative enquiry, such as:
- the study of party systems and representation
- elections and voting behaviour
- party competition and government formation
- executive-legislative relations
It also looks at emerging fields of interest, such as:
- political participation
- extreme right politics
- political corruption
- the political and social challenges of globalisation and European integration
The diverse experiences of liberal democracy in European countries and the political and social changes that they have undergone are discussed thematically in the seminars. In the seminars, a country-expert system is used whereby students are assigned a particular country to cover. The module covers both long-established democracies in Western Europe and newer democracies in Central and Eastern Europe.
Democracy and its Critics
Democracy is a contested concept and organising principle of politics both ancient and modern. Its appeal seems to be universal, yet it has always had its critics.
This module investigates the nature of democratic principles, the arguments of democracy's opponents and the claims of those who say that contemporary life is inadequately democratised. A particular feature of the module is the use of primary sources to investigate historic and contemporary debates.
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.
Political Parties and Party Systems around the Globe
This module will offer an overview of political party development and the functioning of party systems in democratic states around the world, with a special focus on post-transitional democracies in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Applying a variety of analytical concepts, theoretical approaches and empirical indicators to the study of party politics, the module will highlight the institutional and sociological determinants of party organisation development and system stability as well as the consequences of party failure and party system collapse.
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.
Optional economics modules include:
Environmental and Resource Economics
This modules will look at the following:
- Principles of environmental policy: efficiency and sustainability
- Market failure and the need for environmental policy: the Coase theorem
- Instruments of environmental policy: efficiency advantages of market instruments; applications of market instruments, especially the EU Emission Trading Scheme
- Valuation of the benefits of environmental policy
- Biodiversity and its benefits
- International trade in polluting goods
- Mobile capital: race to the bottom?
Experimental and Behavioural Economics
This module provides a foundation in behavioural economics and the role of experimental methods in economics. The traditional approach in economics is to explain market outcomes and economic decision-making using simple theoretical models based on perfectly rational, self-interested agents who maximise their well-being by carefully weighing up the costs and benefits of different alternatives. Behavioural economics, on the other hand, aspires to relax these stringent assumptions and develop an understanding of how real people actually make decisions.
The module will introduce you to behavioural and experimental economics, discuss these fields from a methodological perspective and examine several areas of economic analysis in which they are applied. This will include individual choice under risk and uncertainty, decision-making in strategic situations and competition in markets.
This module is an introduction to international trade theory and policy. It covers the core trade theories under perfect and imperfect competition and applies them to understanding the pattern of trade, gains from trade and modern topics like foreign outsourcing. On the policy side, it examines the effects of different government trade policy instruments and the role of international trade agreements.
Public Sector Economics
This module looks at:
- public finances in the uk
- market failures
- fundamental theorems of welfare economics
- social welfare functions
- public goods
- natural monopolies
- public choice
- social insurance: social security, taxation and equity
- excess burden of taxation and tax incidence
Typical politics modules
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.
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.
This module enables students to undertake a sustained piece of research and analysis into a subject within the discipline of politics and international relations.
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.
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, SierraLeone, Ivory Coast, Libya.
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.
The Politics of Ethnic Conflict
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.
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.
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.
Typical economics modules
This module covers the following:
- 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 account for business cycle fluctuations, and what links short run fluctuations and growth processes
Advanced Public Economics I
The module will introduce some major themes of public economics, using microeconomic tools to analyse public policy. The equity and efficiency implications of policies will be examined within an economic framework.
Advanced Development Economics
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.
Advanced Financial Economics
The module covers the following:
- Saving, focusing on how agents make intertemporal decisions about their savings and wealth accumulation
- Saving puzzles and household portfolios, focusing on credit markets and credit markets imperfections, and why do households hold different kinds of assets
- Asset allocation and asset pricing, focusing on intertemporal portfolio selection, asset pricing and the equity premium puzzle
- The role of behavioural finance in explaining stock market puzzles
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
Advanced Monetary Economics
This module will provide an outline of the elements of monetary theory and of theoretical policy issues.
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.
Advanced Econometric Theory
This module generalises and builds upon the econometric techniques applied to the multivariate linear regression model covered in the year two module, Econometrics I. This will involve introducing a number of new statistical and econometric concepts.
In particular we study large sample, or asymptotic, theory. This is needed in order to obtain tractable results about the behaviour of estimators when the standard modelling assumptions - which frequently cannot be verified in practice - are relaxed.
Advanced Labour Economics
The module covers an economic analysis of the labour market, with an emphasis on policy implications and institutional arrangements.
Advanced International Trade Theory
The module covers:
- models of intra-industry trade
- trade policy in oligopolistic industries
- mathematical enterprises
- testing trade theories
- the WTO and "new issues"
International Money and Macroeconomy
This module will provide an introduction to international monetary issues, including the determination of exchange rates, the functioning of the international monetary system, and international macroeconomic policy co-ordination.
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.
Advanced 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.
The module will cover the following:
- The rational political individual?
- Voter participation
- Collective action and the role of the state
Core Political Economy
- The economic approach to politics
- Political aspects of economics: rights and the limits of the state
- Political aspects of economics: inequality and the duties of the state
Political Economy in Action
- Political economy in action: some current issues in applied political economy
Advanced Mathematical Economics
The module is intended to provide an introduction to mathematical techniques used in economics. In particular, examples of economic issues that can be analysed using mathematical models will be discussed in detail.
Particular attention will be given to providing an intuitive understanding of the logic behind the formal results presented. Students who wish to pursue a higher degree in economics will find the module particularly useful.
Topics in Econometrics
This module focuses on a range of econometric methods used in policy evaluation and in the identification and estimation of causal effects. Topics to be covered include:
- potential outcomes framework
- regression analysis and matching
- instrumental variables
- regression discontinuity
Advanced Time Series Econometrics
This module is a continuation of the module on time series analysis taken in the second semester of the second year. While the earlier module was devoted to basic time series model building methodology, applicable over a broad range of disciplines, the present module concentrates on those developments which can be applied in the subject of economics.
In particular, the emphasis will be on aspects of the behaviour of typical economic time series, and the implications of that behaviour in practical analysis, such as the construction of models linking economic time series.
The key issues addressed will be the identification of non-stationarity through the construction of formal tests and the implications for modelling with non-stationary data. Particular attention will be paid to the contributions of Sir Clive Granger to the spurious regression problem and to cointegration analysis, for which he was ultimately awarded the Nobel Prize.
This module covers the following:
Static numerical methods
- Numerical solution methods
- Numerical static optimisation methods
- Applications: resource allocation, computable general equilibrium
Dynamic numerical optimisation
- Discrete dynamic programming
- Implementation of the methods
- Applications: optimal growth, rational expectations, asset management
Agent-based economic modelling
- Foundations of agent-based modelling
- Basics of computer programming
- Applications: evolutionary games, markets
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.