At least 60 credits will be taken with the School of Politics and International Relations, plus a 60-credit, 15,000-word dissertation.
The remaining 60 credits may be studied with other schools/departments across the University, subject to approval, with certain modules being especially recommended.
This module covers the research and writing of a substantive dissertation of 16,000 words, combining aspects of both politics and contemporary history.
The research programme will have been designed in the second semester. In this module you implement the agreed research programme and write the dissertation.
Politics and international relations
China and the World
This module introduces you to the traditional Chinese and the Maoist world views, though it focuses on the changes that have taken place since the start of the reform period.
It explores how domestic politics and other developments have contributed on the one hand to the rise of China as a great power of the first league, and to the emergence of a 19th century European type of nationalism on the other.
It addresses China's use of force in support of foreign policy as well as its attempts to project soft power. It also reviews China's relations with its major partners or competitors, including the USA, the EU (including the UK), and the importance of Taiwan in China's relations with the rest of the world.
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.
Democracy and Elites in 20th Century Europe and America
From the Occupy Movement and its slogan of the 1%, to Brexit and Trump, the problematic relationship elites – whether financial, social or political – entertain with democracy has been forcefully brought back onto the political agenda. How can the fact that a small number of people wield disproportionate power in the economic, social or indeed political world be reconciled with democracy understood as political equality? Whilst this is no doubt a burning topic, the question of what role elites play in democracy has been raised before.
The aim of this module is to delve into the history of political thought to see how authors in the past century have conceptualised the relationship elites entertain with democracy. Starting with the so-called classic 'elite theorists of democracy' – Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, Robert Michels, Moisie Ostrogorski – who were the first to theorise the elite class within a modern democracy setting, we will explore how their thought impacted upon the development of democratic theory both in Europe and the US through figures such as C. Wright Mills, Robert Dahl, Joseph Schumpeter, Raymond Aron, Bernard Manin and Pierre Rosanvallon.
Our goal will be to come to a better understanding of both contemporary democracies and the precise nature – whether good or bad – elites play in them, and to think about ways in which some of the more deleterious aspects of our contemporary politics might be tackled.
Designing Political Enquiry
The module is designed to allow you to develop a critical understanding of the methodological issues involved in designing and undertaking research in the discipline of politics and international relations and to strengthen your ability to read and evaluate political science literature more generally.
The module focuses on issues of research design. It exposes you to a broad range of methodological issues involved in designing, conducting and writing up research 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 large and small N research. The module is designed to help you to develop a feasible research proposal of your MA dissertation.
Disasters, Rehabilitation and Resilience
This module will focus on post disaster recovery and rehabilitation and how ‘resilience’ is articulated and experienced. Key themes will include vulnerability (to shocks and slow onset disasters), risk and resilience.
Examples will be drawn from various real world disasters and you will be able to research the disasters of your choice.
EU-China: Trade, Aid and Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century
In this module, you will learn about the state-of-the-art of western engagement with China during the past 35 years (1978-), in particular western trade and development policies towards China and gain insights into the interplay between bilateral and multilateral development agencies and Chinese domestic partner organisations.
You will learn to critique emerging partnerships between international NGOs and domestic civil society organisations and academic institutions. Drawing both on primary and secondary sources you will familiarise yourself with the increasingly lively international debates among Chinese and non-Chinese social and political scientists, educators, media professionals, civil society practitioners, government officials, and lawyers about goals and means of western China engagement.
This module will provide a socially relevant policy curriculum and help you develop necessary skills for a democratic practice of public policy inquiry.
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.
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.
Government and Politics of China
This module deals with some key concepts, processes and institutions in contemporary Chinese politics, including:
- the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership and succession
- legitimacy and stability in Chinese politics
- central and local relations
- political opening and experiments
- regulation and governing the market
- the Party in transition
Institutions, Governance and International Development
In recent decades, the quality of governance has become central to our understanding of the effectiveness of international aid and development policies as well as our understanding of the failures to successfully tackle poverty, inequality, conflict and instability in developing countries. This module takes a twofold approach to introduce you to theories and practice of governance and institutional reform in developing countries.
First, it examines theories of development to trace the emphasis on state and governance in contemporary development thinking including the history of the good governance paradigm. Second, the module examines a range of issues to build governance effectiveness in developing countries including debates on strengthening the fiscal capacity of the state, curbing patronage practices and professionalising the civil service, the role of decentralisation, civil society and the establishment of effective anti-corruption policies.
The module is thematically structured and draws on examples from all major developing regions, in particular, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. The module will combine the study of academic debate, practitioner material, for instance, from international aid and assistance organisations and case study material to directly experience the challenges of engaging in institutional reform in developing countries.
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 (for example, 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
- direct political action
The 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 the principles of systematic quantitative analysis. It focuses on the measurement and coding of political science data, management of large datasets, and how to use quantitative data analysis techniques to learn about political systems and behaviour.
The emphasis throughout the module is on providing you with hands-on training in applying quantitative research techniques on actual survey data. It is a practical module and does not assume any prior statistical or software expertise.
Russia in the World Today
With the end of the Cold War, the Russian Federation lost its superpower status. However, not least due to its size, geostrategic location, richness in energy and influence in international organisations, the country continues to be an important actor in international politics. The module examines Russia's role in the world today. Analytically, it focuses on the contrast between Russia's own understanding of its role in the world and the country's international reputation.
Substantially, the module will study Russia's image and self-image as an international actor; the factors driving Russian foreign and defence policy (including the role of energy); and Russia's relations with its neighbours (former Soviet states; the West, including NATO and the EU; and the East, ie China, Japan and North Korea).
Secret Intelligence and International Security
This module is 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.
Special Project A
Special Project A offers you the opportunity to undertake a short piece of independent research under the guidance of an appropriate lecturer. Permission must be granted by the module convener before you can register for this module.
Special Project B
Special Project B offers you the opportunity to undertake a short piece of independent research under the guidance of an appropriate lecturer. Permission to take the module must be granted by the module convener.
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.
Theories and Concepts in International Relations
The War on Iraq and the US and British invasion of the country in 2003 has led to huge tensions in geopolitics. At the same time, the supposed 'threat' of international terrorism and continuing financial turmoil in the world economy have both brought to the fore the global politics of co-operation and confrontation.
Whilst it might be possible to agree on the signifcance of these events, the explanation and/or understanding of them is dependent on prior theoretical choices. The purpose of this module is to make you aware of the diversity of approaches to international theory.
Within international relations theory there exist highly divergent interpretations and applications of key concepts (for example, power, the state, agency, structure, and world order) as well as contested views about the practical purpose underpinning theories of world politics. The overall aim of the module is to provide you with a solid theoretical and conceptual grounding of this diversity. As a result, it will be possible to recognise not only how international theory informs policy-making and practice but also, perhaps, how truly contested the underlying assumptions of world politics are.
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 will introduce you to a range of issues and theories that may challenge traditional conceptions of security and insecurity in international relations.
The module will address how issues such as war, peace, terrorism and insecurity are social constructions which reflect the norms, experiences and interactions of the societies (of states and peoples) in which they are embedded. You will be introduced to a range of theory and empirical examples that support and test this critical approach.
Specifically the module will aim to answer the following questions:
- Why is security a contested concept?
- What is human security?
- How does a constructivist approach help us understand terrorism, fear and inequality?
- How has the international community responded to the widening of the security agenda?
A series of case studies addressing issues such as HIV/AIDS, food insecurity, environmental degradation and disaster and the growth of Islamic fundamentalism will be used to help explore these questions.
Japan and the Asia-Pacific War: Conflict, Aftermath and Memory
In 1940, Japan was a vibrant, modernising power in the world replete with possibilities embedded in its industrial technology, social organisation and global intellectual engagement. Five years later, its cities were ruined, its economy wrecked, its population was exhausted, hungry and traumatised by the a-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Throughout the post-war period Japan's leaders have been haunted by ‘contested war memories’ and by the ghosts of the countless millions of myriad nationalities left dead, maimed, displaced or psychologically scarred.
This first part of this module examines the reasons for Japan’s slide into war. In the second part we study the on-going legacy of the war in Asia and Japan through a variety of media including secondary literature, documentary evidence, witness testimony, film and popular culture including animated film (anime). Students are warned that some of this material contains graphic and distressing imagery and description.
Exploring English Identity
Recent debates surrounding the Brexit vote and its aftermath have refocused attention on what it means to be English, but what exactly is ‘Englishness’ and how should we understand it historically? What has it meant to feel or be English? What has been the relationship of this to Britishness and how has that dual relationship played out in practice? Is English identity fundamentally rooted in empire and its legacies, and if so how? Could English nationalism be a positive, progressive force, or must it be divisive and backward-looking? Where historically has Englishness been located?: in a language?; in a monarchy?; in a set of ideas?; in a territory?; in a set of preferences or tastes?
Recent historians have been conscious of English identity not as a stable phenomenon ready to be described, but as a historical construct subject to regular change, revision and contestation. During this module, you will consider ‘English identity’ as a historical phenomenon, exploring the creation of an assumed English national identity that has both developed over time and been imposed retrospectively on an idea of the past.
Foreign Policy and Appeasement, 1933-39
This module examines the evolution of British foreign policy from Hitler's ascendancy to power in Germany in 1933 until the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939. More specifically, the module will consider:
- British foreign policy from the Versailles Treaty to the early 1930s
- the emergence of Nazism in Germany Definitions of appeasement
- strategies of appeasement
- challenges to the status quo
- Abyssinia and the re-occupation of the Rhineland
- the Spanish Civil War
- the English Governess - Anglo-French relations and appeasement
- the USSR and the failure of collective security
- Japanese revisionism in the Far East
- public opinion and appeasement
- The Munich Agreement
- the end of appeasement, 1938-9
- the historiography of appeasement
Memory and Social Change in Modern Europe and Beyond
You will enhance your understanding of various conceptual approaches to the study of modern history. Following a chronological approach, this module will use specific case studies as prisms for the interrogation of common themes, notably memory, identity, and social change. You will explore the construction and representation of national, political, local and ethnic identities which are borne out of (and continue to shape) social change. These collective identities will be analysed in terms of memory and commemoration, considering how the recent past is remembered and memorialised.
By the end of the module, you will have acquired a sound understanding of how the past has contributed to the construction of contemporary identities in Europe and beyond.
(Mis)Perceptions of the Other: From Savages and Barbarians to the Exotic and Erotic
This module will investigate the various ways in which western Europeans and Americans have constructed and categorised peoples as the 'other' in a wide range of eras and places. This will include some or all of: views on the Jewish and Islamic faiths in the early-medieval period; notions of Russians between the 16th and 18th centuries; constructions of Amerindians and Africans in the 17th and 18th centuries; and views of various societies in the 19th and 20th-century including China and Japan.
These 'others' were variously constructed as savages, barbarians, exotic, and were often sexualised or eroticised. Even when the 'other' was perceived as fabulous, those constructions usually (though not always), had negative connotations and were often used to justify the actions towards them of those doing the 'othering'.
Key themes will be:
- conceptualisation and construction of the 'other'
- using the other to justify actions
- civilisation vs barbarism
- decadence vs progress
- East vs West
- Christianity vs paganism
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This course page may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.