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.
You will take 80 credits with a minimum of 60 credits to be taken within the school.
Comparative politics modules
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.
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
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.
The module will explore the key literature and major debates in the field of feminist political economy, linking academic, policy-related and practitioner/activist debates. It will also explore how political, economic and social processes of globalisation and development intersect, impact, and are in turn influenced by gender relations in the South.
Political Representation in the EU
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)
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.
When Does Russia Expand and Why?
Russia's annexation of the Crimea will strike many Westerners as merely the latest chapter in a long history of Russian imperialism. Does Russia always expand when it has the opportunity? Or is its expansion, when it occurs, explained by contingent factors?
This module will examine Russia's expansion and contraction from the 17th century to the present, and the causes underlying it.
Approaches to Quantitative Human Rights Research
Why are human rights well protected by some states while others have a notoriously bad repression record? Understanding the conditions under which governments protect human rights is crucial for the field of international relations and policy makers alike.
This module will discuss current quantitative research on political and economic determinants of human rights. We will address the state of the art work on personal integrity rights, civil and political rights, socioeconomic rights and labour rights. The main goal is to rigorously review and assess published research and methodological approaches to identify research gaps and formulate research questions which will advance the human rights literature.
At the end of the class you will have a clear understanding about cutting-edge quantitative human research, how to select appropriate methodological approaches and how to design your own human rights project.
European Union Politics
This course analyses how the growing competencies of the European Union and changing nature of the integration process affect politics 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
- the future of the European Union
Non-comparative politics modules
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 IR
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 (IR) theory there exist highly divergent interpretations and applications of key concepts (eg 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 Road to Guantanamo
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.
This module aims to explore the dynamics of conflict in the modern world. It will primarily address the increased role that non-state actors play in global security. It will introduce you to empirical analyses of numerous terrorist and insurgent groups, as well as to theoretical understandings of sub-state violence in the post-9/11 world.
This module will enable you to engage with the concepts of resistance and rebellion in international relations and widen understanding of the multiple levels of global security.
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.
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.
Justice Beyond Borders
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.
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.
Ethics, Killing and War
This module examines the ethics of war. It focuses on the justice of war (jus ad bellum) and justice in war (jus in bello) from an analytical perspective. The module introduces and explores the questions of when (if at all) war can be legitimate, and what bar to actions (if any) exist in the conduct of war.
Its subject-matter is contemporary in nature, drawing on recent developments in the just war tradition and applied ethics more generally. It uses examples of recent armed conflict (from WWI to Gulf War II) to illuminate and test these positions.
Specific issues examined include: the criteria of a just war; aggression and self-defence; terrorism; the killing of non-combatants; the Doctrine of Double Effect; pacifism; consequentialism and deontology; political obligation; and, nuclear deterrence. Conflicts covered include the Gulf Wars; Kosovo; Vietnam; Korea; various Israeli conflicts; WWII; and WWI.
War, Peace and Political Thought
This is an advanced course in the history of international political thought. It is structured in two parts.
The first is concerned with an approach to the history of international theory, influential in the field, which insists on placing theorists in one of three 'traditions'. We interrogate the integrity of these traditions, in each case, by examining the work of at least two writers who are said to belong squarely to the tradition, or indeed to have founded it.
In the second part of the course, we look at a number of respects in which international relations theorists and political theorists are turning their attention to the history of international thought in order to illuminate some aspect of contemporary global politics.
Utopianism lies at the heart of politics. Utopias and dystopias provide the visions, aspirations and directions of future politics. They also offer criticisms of the political present and predictions for the future. They anticipate the good life and explore fears for a nightmare existence.
This module seeks to explore the concept of utopia and we will look at utopian and dystopian theory, fiction, film and social experiments.
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.
Research methods training
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.
Political Discourse Analysis
This module introduces you to discourse analysis as a method of studying political language. The module is rooted in the interpretive approach to political science. It works from the premise that attention to the material inputs to political decision-making only makes sense in the context of a thorough awareness of the beliefs informing political practice.
The module unfolds in two parts. In the first part you are introduced to discourse analysis as method, evaluating different approaches and looking at examples of discourse analytic texts in politics and international relations.
The second part of the module operates as a series of student-led workshops. You choose a case study and work step by step each week through the different stages of a discourse analysis. By the end of the module you should be critically aware of the power of language in international relations and should be comfortable using discourse analysis to analyse the language of politics.
Subject to receiving an average of 60% in year one, you will progress to study at one of our European partners, or our China or Malaysia campuses, where you will take 60 credits or their equivalent.
Those who do not receive an average of 60% in year one will remain in the UK and will take 60 credits; 40 credits of which will be taken within the school.
You will complete your dissertation.
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. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.