You will either take two 20-credit politics modules, a 40-credit Special Subject and 40 credit history dissertation.
You will take a 40 credit politics dissertation, together with two 20 credit politics modules and the 40 credit History Special Subject.
You’ll have at least eight hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.
You must pass year three, which counts as 67% towards your final degree classification.
China in Global Politics
China, as the new and upcoming superpower, has become a focal point of global attention. This module introduces you to the major topics in China’s interaction with the evolution of China’s foreign policy since 1949 as well as its role in the international political economy.
The module will explore 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.
Much of the module will be an examination of China's political and economic relations with major powers and regions such as the US, Asia, the EU, the UK, Russia and Africa, the responses towards China from these powers and regions, and major issues in their relations. This module will also survey China's role in critical global issue(s) as well as the global order and governance.
Disasters, Politics and Society
Disasters are defined by the United Nations as ‘a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope with using its own resources.’ The failure successfully to reconcile human behaviour with environmental threats has, throughout time and in different places, led to multiple disasters.
This module will examine the relationship between natural hazards and human society, how and why disasters happen and how the impact of disasters can be ameliorated. With reference to cases across the globe, there will be a focus on how social life has mitigated, adapted and evolved in the face of environmental hazards.
We will examine the social, economic and technological processes that mediate the relationship between human society and the natural world. We will examine key themes such as governance, technological innovation, urbanisation and migration, gender, culture and identity, global patterns of production and consumption, health and pandemics, race and class to understand why disasters impact on different people in different ways.
The EU as a Global Power
Against the backdrop of increasingly tense EU-US relations, Brexit, and rising nationalism in Europe, this module analyses the European Union's international role. It first introduces concepts and decision-making processes related to EU foreign policy both, by Member States and EU institutions. In particular, we analyse the processes within the European Communities, and the CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policies) / CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policies) frameworks.
The module then critically assesses security and economic policies towards Africa, the Middle East and China. Themes to explain the nature of contemporary EU foreign policies include: European integration, intergovernmentalism and supranationalism, neoliberalism and ethical foreign policy, development aid (including for health and education) and diplomacy, post-colonialism, as well as military and civilian means for conflict-management.
Gender and Political Representation
What does it mean to be represented in politics? This module uses gender as a prism through which to view intersectional debates on political representation. We ask what women’s representation is, what it looks like in political institutions, how gender norms shape access to and participation in political institutions, why women's representation matters for policy outcomes, how it impacts on social movements and voting behaviour, and how it matters in global governance.
Our approach is broadly comparative, focussing on theories and case examples from both high-income countries in the Global North and low- and middle-income countries in the Global South. Our wide selection of countries also allows us to consider what role women’s participation can have in quality of governance and democracy. We recognize that global norm diffusion is key to boosting women’s representation, from gender quotas and gender mainstreaming in the UN's Beijing Platform for Action to the gender equality provisions in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, and our discussions will also be of interest to students of international relations. The module engages with diverse perspectives and methodologies and will enable students to develop transferable skills in analytical literacy that can be applied across the social sciences.
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.
Middle East and the World
This module covers:
- Introduction – background history, empire and its importance, Sykes Picot
- 1910-20s - WW1 and Balfour Declaration
- 1930-40s inc. Palestine, WW2, beginning of the Cold War and creation of Israel
- Cold War and the Middle East - Egypt and Suez, and Arab-Israel conflict
- Turkish history and politics – including foreign policy
- Nationalism – Kurdish and Pan-Arab
- “Terrorism” – Iranian revolution, Iranian hostage crisis, Palestinian issue, Lebanon, Libya, plus the end of the Cold War – USSR to Russia, Chechen wars x2, Arab-Israel again. Islamic state - religion/terrorism/nationalism nexus
- 1990s - First Gulf War and policing Iraq (including Iran-Iraq war 1980s). Authoritarianism as a legacy of the Cold War – Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya
- 2000s - Iraq War
- 2010s: The Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil war
- Legacy and contemporary issues – Iran nuclear issue, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
Political Challenges and Multiple Crises in the Global Economy
The global economy presents a wide variety of political challenges and can create multiple types of crisis for states and the actors within it. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the whole system under pressure and revealed its fragility.
This module analyses some of these challenges and crises, which range from sovereign default to the global free trade system and the impact of climate change, to help us understand and explain the international political economy. It draws on scholarship from the fields of international relations theory, international political economy, security studies, and economic history to provide students with a more nuanced understanding of global politics.
Democratic Backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe
This module studies the politics of democratic backsliding in East and Central Europe. During the last three decades the region of East and Central Europe has undergone a historically unprecedented development of democratic transition from communism, the establishment and consolidation of democratic institutions, political parties and party systems, as well as the integration into Western political, economic and security alliances, most notably the European Union. Recent trends towards democratic backsliding in the region have cast doubt on the success of post-communist transformation.
This module focuses on the politics of democratic backsliding in East and Central Europe in the context of contemporary debates surrounding the de-consolidation of democracy across the globe.
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 a 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.
Populism, Elites and Democracy
Populism is a contentious term. Over the last few decades we have witnessed a surge of ideologically diverse populist movements with strong democratically elected leaders acting in the name of ‘the people’ across the globe. For some, populism is illiberal, anti-pluralist and a danger to democracy; for others, it is the ultimate democratic act of popular sovereignty.
This module examines the controversial relationship between populism and democracy. It surveys key theoretical developments in democratic theory and the populist literature to compare mainstream and alternative definitions/conceptualisations of populism. The modules examines the problematic relationship of elites (‘the 1%’) – whether financial, social or political – in relation to liberal democracy and the masses (‘the 99%’). It explores concepts and events key to the populist surge, such as ‘post-truth’ politics, the polarisation of politics, the ‘friend/enemy’ relation, ‘us versus them’ relation, ‘elites’, ‘democratic leadership’, ‘representation’, the 2019 prorogation of the British Parliament, and ‘identification’.
You will have the opportunity to examine a range of different progressive and regressive populist leaders/associations, such as: Donald Trump, Vikor Orbán, Hugo Chávez, Brexit 2016, the UK general election 2019, the Yellow vests movement, the Danish People’s Party, Fidesz, the People’s Party, Occupy, Syriza, Podemos, Jobbik and Alternative for Germany.
Responding to Violent Extremism
This module will bridge the gap between academic study and pragmatic policy. It will consider how extremist ideas come into politics through extremist versions of ideology and religion, based on theories of prominent writers in the field.
It will consider political ideologies’ reliance on power and the role of violence through past case studies such as anarchism, Nazism and religious extremism. The module will also look at responses to terrorism utilising a case study approach that explores the United Kingdom’s and United States of America’s methods.
Russia and Great Power Politics: From Lenin to Putin
"Russia is a Great Power or it is nothing” – this belief has dominated Russian foreign policy thinking in the past as it does today. The module develops an understanding of Russia’s international politics in historical perspective – from the October Revolution in 1917 until today. Why is being a Great Power so important to Moscow and how successful has the country been in achieving and maintaining this status in the international system? What is Russia’s self-perception as an international actor and how does this contrast with the country’s international image?
Within the framework of relevant theoretical approaches to the study of international relations, the module will focus on a wide range of historical events and developments that will lead to a better understanding of Russia’s role in the world today. Themes to be discussed will include, amongst others:
- Stalinism and Soviet foreign policy
- Gorbachev’s ‘New Thinking’
- Military power and foreign policy
- Russia and its neighbours
- The annexation of the Crimea
- Human rights and international relations
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 Relationship? Anglo-American Security Relations
The Anglo-American so-called 'Special Relationship' has provoked controversy since the term was coined after World War Two. To some commentators it has represented an attempt by the UK to hide its decline by lofty rhetoric and becoming the 'poodle' of a Superpower. To others, it has been a relationship that has served the interests of both countries and provided a foundation for Western cooperation.
This module explores the salient aspects of a relationship that has been built around security, conventional and nuclear. On the one hand, it investigates areas of collaboration, such as nuclear and intelligence sharing, where the US and the UK have worked closely together. On the other, it uncovers issues that have provoked tension between the two sides and it seeks to understand the depth of these disagreements.
The first part of the module looks at the period of the Cold War, when both countries were focused on the threat from the Soviet Union. The second part of part of the module looks at the post-Cold War period and how the relationship has fared amidst the US-led War on Terror and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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.
The International Politics of Human Rights
Why are some states better at protecting, respecting, and fulfilling their human rights obligations, while others are not? 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 cutting-edge research within and beyond the human rights field.
You will learn about autocratic state behaviour, safeguards within democratic systems, the campaigns and challenges of NGOs and international organisations, and the wide-ranging effects of globalisation across the different categories and dimensions of human rights. The module will apply theory and empirical insights from these different fields of inquiry in order to understand the relative protection and enjoyment of human rights across different country contexts.
By the end of the module, you will have a clear understanding about human rights research and its effects on the real world.
From Dictatorship to Democracy and Back?
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.
Culture, Society and Politics in 20th Century Russia
This module explores twentieth-century Russian history through the analysis of:
- visual art
- first-person testimonies (diaries, letters, memoirs, etc.)
- political texts
- scholarly commentaries.
- the role of culture in late imperial, Soviet and post-Soviet Russia
- the meanings and forms of ‘culture’ in the past
- the significance of ideas and ideology in political and social change
- the nature of power, authority and legitimacy, and of dissidence, opposition and resistance
- the construction of social identities
- the political and social roles of history and collective memory
- the social structures of space and place.
Module convener: Dr Nick Baron
Victorians in Italy: Travelling South in the Nineteenth Century
This module examines the history of travel to and within Italy in accounts written by British travellers in the period c.1780-c.1914, especially these key topics:
- methodologies necessary for analysing travel writing as historical evidence
- the nature of the 'Grand Tour', including the experiences of women travellers
- collecting and the development of notions of taste
- the changing nature of travel writing in the nineteenth century, including the Romanticisation of travel
- the appearance of middle class travellers as 'tourists'
- the 'guide book', a new genre of writing
The History of a Relation: Jews in Modern Europe
This special subject surveys and analyses the place of Jews in modern European history. Throughout the modern period, Jews lived in Europe as part of a minority. The module is concerned to analyse the enduring, productive and resilient relation between Jews and non-Jews. It is the contention of this module that the story of the relationship’s development and evolution can tell us a great deal of the history of Europe as a whole.
The British Civil Wars c.1639-1652
This module surveys and analyses political, religious, social, cultural and military changes during the civil wars fought across the British Isles and the British Atlantic between 1639 and 1652. The major topics to be explored include:
- the causes of the civil wars
- the mobilisation of civilian communities
- the course of the civil wars
- the impact of war on individuals and communities
- religious and political change
- the growth of religious and political radicalism
- print culture and propaganda
- the changing roles of women
- the issues surrounding the public trial and execution of the king
- the abolition of the British monarchy and the House of Lords
- the ‘Celtic dimension’ of the conflict
- the Civil Wars in the British Atlantic
Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853–78
This module surveys the dramatic cultural encounter in the nineteenth century as the world of the samurai was confronted by Western expansion and the Age of Steam. It explores the forces at work in Japan’s rapid transformation from an ‘ancien régime’ under the rule of the Shogun into a ‘modern’ imperial power. Original documents examined in class draw on the growing range of Japanese primary sources available in English translation, together with the extensive works of Victorian diplomats, newspaper correspondents and other foreign residents in the treaty ports. You will have four hours of lectures and seminars each week for this module.
Faith and Fire: Popular Religion in Late Medieval England
This module explores religious ‘faith’ in England from c. 1215 to the beginning of the Reformation in 1534.
The English church made great efforts in this period to consolidate Christianity amongst the masses through wide-reaching programmes of instruction, regulation and devotion. However, historians disagree as to how successful the church was in its efforts.
The module investigates the relationship between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ religion and examines how the church sought to maintain its authority in matters of faith. It asks how people responded and the degree to which they fashioned their own religious practices and beliefs. It also considers the violent repression by church and crown of those deemed ‘heretics’.
It looks at the condemned teachings of the Oxford academic John Wycliffe and the significance of those who followed his ideas, known as Lollards.
Module convener: Dr Rob Lutton
The Black Death
In 1348 the Black Death arrived in England. By 1350 the disease had killed half of the English population. The module concentrates upon the stories of the epidemics' survivors and what they did to adapt to a world turned upside down by plague. It examines the impact of this unprecedented human disaster upon the society and culture of England between 1348 and 1520. It examines four particular groups of survivors:
The module explores English society through translated medieval sources. Themes include:
- Impact of the Black Death
- Religious and scientific explanations of the plague
- Changes in peasant society and how peasants lived after the plague Merchants, their lives, businesses and shifting attitudes towards them
- Gentry society and culture in the fifteenth century and the development of an entrepreneurial ‘middling sort’
- Women’s lives and experiences in a post-plague patriarchal society The module poses a simple question: How central is the Black Death in explanations of long-term historical change and the evolution of the modern world?
After the Golden Age: The West in the 1970s & 1980s
In the historiography, the 1970s and 1980s are often referred to as a ‘landslide’ (E. Hobsbawm) or a ‘time of troubles’ (A. Marwick) for the West, which, it is argued, followed upon the ‘Golden Age’ of material affluence and cultural liberalisation that characterised the post-war period. At the same time, historical scholarship is only just beginning to make inroads into a field that has been extensively documented by cultural critics, the media and the social sciences. The module will engage critically with the dominant conceptualisation of the 1970s and 1980s as crisis decades and ask about the contribution that Contemporary History can make to our understanding of the period. It focuses on the UK and W-Germany as case studies, but will also look at developments in the West more broadly, exploring economic, social and cultural change as well as continuity. It takes thematic approaches, analysing topics including:
- Détente and the second Cold War;
- the crisis of industrialism and structural economic change;
- social change and continuity, with special emphasis on the class structure;
- the disintegration of consensus politics and the rise of the New Right;
- liberalisation, new social movements and cultural politics;
- domestic terrorism, the public and the state; heritage, memory and nostalgia.
British Culture in the Age of Mass Production, 1920-1950
The module explores the cultural transformations in Britain brought on by the shift to a Fordist economy (roughly covering the period 1920-50), and the social and cultural contestations that resulted. It takes chronological and thematic approaches, and topics may include:
- New experiences of factory work and the rationalisation of diverse areas of everyday life;
- New forms of advertising and commodity culture, and the anxieties and opportunities these produced;
- New forms of industrial urban leisure (e.g. the cinema and dance hall) and their role in promoting social change;
- Performances of self-hood and the contested politics of movement and habit;
- The perceived impact of Americanisation on national traditions, values and ways of life;
- The rise of the ‘expert’ across a range of fields to manage working-class behaviour;
- The development of social science and the problems of knowing ‘the masses’; Post-WW2 reconstruction and the early years of the Welfare State;
Life During Wartime: Crisis, Decline and Transformation in 1970s America
Once dismissed as the “Me Decade” (Tom Wolfe), or a time when “it seemed like nothing happened” (Peter Carroll), the 1970s have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent American historical scholarship. This module introduces students to the narratives of crisis and decline that defined the 1970s and which helped make the decade such a transformative period in American life - recasting the United States and its society, politics and culture in significant and far-reaching ways - whilst encouraging students to think critically about those narratives and their utility for subsequent processes of political, socio-economic and cultural change. We will explore developments such as the growth of identity politics and the cult of the individual, debates over American foreign policy abroad and social policy at home, the rise of populist conservatism, the market and neo-liberalism, anxieties over the city, the environment and the political system, and a broader political and cultural power shift from Rustbelt to Sunbelt, as we seek to understand why the 1970s are now regarded as the decade “that brought us modern life - for better or worse” (David Frum).
Imperial Eyes: the Body in Enlightenment Thought, c.1730-1830
This module explores the role of empire and ideas of race, gender and disability in the eighteenth-century enlightenment. The module includes topics such as:
- What role colonial encounter played in Enlightenment theories of human development
- How Enlightenment scholars imagined bodily difference
- The place of the slave trade in Enlightenment thought
- Enlightenment ideas of the body, sexuality and disability
- Colonized people's responses to Enlightenment thinking
Overseas Exploration, European Diplomacy, and the Rise of Tudor England
This module evaluates the ways in which ideas during the Renaissance had an impact on both long-distance exploration and interstate relations. Also, of primary importance will be situating Tudor England in a pan-European context, thereby helping students better understand the rise of this island nation to become a global superpower. Topics covered will include:
- Renaissance attitudes to human potential
- Motivations for overseas exploration and travel
- Beginnings of European imperialism
- Continuities and changes in diplomacy
- Religion and foreign policy
- Travel literature and cultural diplomacy
- Xenophobia and cosmopolitanism
Alternatives to War: Articulating Peace since 1815
International history is dominated by wars; historians and international relations scholars focus with an almost obsessive zeal on the causes and consequences of conflict. The intermittent periods of peace are rarely scrutinised, other than to assess the imperfections of peace treaties and thus extrapolate the seeds of future wars. This module offers a corrective to this tendency, taking as its focus the multifarious efforts that have been made since 1815 to substitute peace for war. These include diplomatic efforts (e.g. post-war conferences, legalistic mechanisms such as the UN, arms control protocols, etc.), and those advanced by non-state actors (e.g. national and transnational peace movements, anti-war protests, etc.). Taking a broad definition of the term peace , and focusing predominantly (though not exclusively) on Britain, this module revisits some of the pivotal episodes of the 19th and 20th centuries, exposing and interrogating the often complex relationship between war and peace that emerged, and thus arriving at an alternative history of the period.
A Green and (un) Pleasant Land? Society, Culture and the Evolution of the British Countryside
This module explores the relationship between society, culture and the British countryside between 1800 and 1918. It examines both perceptions and realities, and reveals a dynamic British countryside which both reflected and shaped society and culture and forged an enigmatic relationship with the urban. Themes include:
- perceptions and popular representations of the British countryside
- constructing a rural idyll
- Englishness and national identity
- exposing the reality of living and working conditions in the countryside
- the (un) healthy countryside? - poverty, disease and insanity
- the agency of the labouring population
- the radical countryside
- constructing gender in the British countryside
- the leisured countryside
- animal-human relations
- the preservation and conservation movement
- the evolving relationship between town and country
- public history: representations of the British countryside
The past that won't go away: the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
This module examines the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), its underlying causes and legacy for present-day Spain. Commencing with the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931, students will consider the principal historical forces and conditions that gave rise to the outbreak of war in 1936 in Spain. The module is delivered through a combination of lecture and student-led seminars in which students present their understanding of a specific historical event, theme or ideas through their study of primary and secondary sources, and respective historiographical debates. Thus, students will develop an in-depth understanding of the war through propaganda, myth, revolutionary ideology, anti-clerical and gendered violence, as well as, for example, the significance of Badajoz and Guernica. The conflict is also considered in the wider context of the ‘European Civil War’; specifically, the role of military interventions on the part of regimes in Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union, and the influence of non-interventions by Britain and France. Using Helen Graham’s notion of the ‘past that won’t go away’, the module concludes with a reflection on the legacy of the Civil War in contemporary Spain.
From Revelation to ISIS: Apocalyptic Thought from the 1st to 21st Century
The need to infuse the present moment with apocalyptic meaning is an important theme in the history of ideas. Concerns about the day of judgement, Antichrist, the millennium and the end of time have a significant impact upon many different individuals and societies throughout history, finding expression in literature, architecture and a wide variety of artistic media. In some cases, apocalyptic anxiety directly influenced the actions of kings, emperors, ecclesiastical leaders and religious communities. Students will uncover systems of belief about the end of history and trace the impact of such traditions upon states, societies and religious institutions.
Plague, Fire and the Reimagining of the Capital 1600-1720: The Making of Modern London
In 1665, London suffered the worst plague epidemic since the Black Death, killing over 97,000 people. The following year, the Great Fire destroyed four-fifths of the ancient City of London within three days. This module explores the impact of these events and places them within the context of the 1660s and the city’s past and future history.
We will investigate how Londoners across the social spectrum responded to natural disasters and crises, the challenges that these presented to community values and group identities and how the spread of news reflected fears over religious difference and terrorist plots. The module also examines the changing character of the city across the period including concerns over health, the environment and the use of green space.
Transnationalising Italy: A History of Modern Italy in a Transnational Perspective
The module looks at the history of modern Italy (19th-21 century) from a transnational framework in order to illuminate different facets of the connections between Italy and the wider world. The module makes use of the methodological innovations of a transnational approach to put emphasis on movement, interaction, connections and exchange. It examines key moments and developments in the history of modern Italy by addressing the connections and circulations (of ideas, people, and goods) that cross borders.