In your final year, you can take either 40 credits of politics, philosophy and economics modules, or 60 credits of modules from any two of these disciplines.
Advanced Development Economics
This module adopts a broad focus on factors influencing growth and development, concentrating on core economic policy areas and the role of international organisations.
Topics covered include macroeconomic policies, in particular exchange rates and the role of the IMF; aid policy and the World Bank, effects of aid on growth, macroeconomic and fiscal policy, and poverty; trade policy and performance and the WTO; economic reforms and growth experiences in East Asia, China and Africa; human development and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Advanced Experimental and Behavioural Economics
This module discusses aspects of some of the main sub-areas of experimental and behavioural economics. This includes applications related to individual decision-making, strategic behaviour and market behaviour.
The module encourages reflection on both the role of experiments in economics and the assumptions that economics does (and should) make about people’s motivations. Both experimental economics and behavioural economics are still comparatively new fields within the wider discipline.
The module considers their potential and main achievements, relative to more traditional economic techniques. It encourages development of critical skills and reflection on specific research contributions in experimental and behavioural economics.
Advanced Financial Economics
This module covers:
- 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
- bond markets and fixed income securities
- the term structure of interest rates
- the role of behavioural finance in explaining stock market puzzles
Advanced Industrial Economics
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 International Trade I
This module looks at:
- trade policy
- economic policy for trade and international factor mobility
- theory and evidence
- trade policy and imperfect competition
- trade and distortions
- the political economy of protection
- trade policy reform
Advanced Labour Economics
This module covers an economic analysis of the labour market, with an emphasis on policy implications and institutional arrangements.
This module covers:
- 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 accounts for business cycle fluctuations, and what links short run fluctuations and growth processes
This 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 Monetary Economics
This module provides a rigorous introduction to formal models of money in the macroeconomy. Following this, applications for areas of central banking, finance and international macroeconomics will be explored.
Advanced Political Economy
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 Public Economics
The module will introduce some major themes of the economic analysis of government. Using the tools of modern microeconomic theory, it will explore how government institutions are designed, how they could be designed better, and how they shape economic policy.
This module investigates different kinds of contemporary logic, as well as their uses in philosophy. We will investigate the syntax and semantics of various logics, including first order logic, modal logics, and three-valued logics, as well as ways to apply formal techniques from these logics to philosophical topics such as possibility and necessity, vagueness, and the Liar paradox.
We’ll cover ways to reason and construct proofs using the logics we study, and also ways to reason about them. We’ll look at proofs regarding the limits of formal logic, including proofs of soundness, completeness, and decidability.
Authenticity, Freedom, and Ethics
This module concerns these three themes: Authenticity, Freedom, and Ethics, and their relations. We will be exploring these themes via a focus on how they are handled by three different schools of thought: Kantianism; Existentialism; and Contemporary Compatibilism.
Philosophers on the agenda include: Kant, Korsgaard, and Velleman (from the Kantian School); Sartre, Camus, and Beauvoir (from the Existentialist School); and Frankfurt, Watson, and Wolff (from the Contemporary Compatibilist School).
This module will teach you how to communicate philosophy through a variety of different mediums, assessing them in each. We will look at how philosophy can be communicated through legal documentation, press releases, handouts, lesson plans, webpages, funding bids and posters (with optional presentations).
A number of the sessions will be delivered by professionals from outside the university, with support from the module convener. Seminars will be used to develop each of the items for assessment. You will be invited to draw upon your prior philosophical learning to generate your assessments, except in the case of handout where you will be set a specific philosophical task and asked to complete some (very basic) independent research.
Dissertation in Philosophy
The aim of this module is to provide you with an opportunity to write an 8,000-word dissertation on a philosophical topic, the precise subject of which is by agreement with the supervisor. At the completion of the module, you will have had an opportunity to work independently, though with the advice of a supervisor.
In this module we'll ask questions like:
- How should human beings interact with the non-human natural world?
- Is nature intrinsically valuable, or does it possess value only by being valuable to us?
As part of this we'll cover topics such as:
- the moral status of animals
- the ethics of zoos
- responsibility for climate change
- whether there is any connection between the twin oppressions of women and nature
- the environmental impact of having children
- the ethics of restoring nature after it has been damaged by human development
This module is worth 20 credits.
What are the proper concerns of an egalitarian society? If we’re concerned about equality, what kind of world should we be working towards? What does it mean to treat one another as equals? Should we treat each other that way? If so, why? And what are the political implications of such obligations?
In this module we will be exploring these and other questions at the heart of the egalitarian project. Subjects will include equality of condition, relational equality, moral equality and political equality. We will also touch on issues around welfare, luck, rights, dignity, status and democracy. Writers covered may include Dworkin, Sen, Parfit, Anderson, Kant, Rousseau, Scanlon, Christiano and Rawls.
Knowledge, Ignorance and Democracy
Politics and truth have always had a complicated relationship. Lies, bullshit, spin, and propaganda are nothing new.
Polarization is on the rise in many democracies and political disagreements have spread to disputes about obvious matters of fact.
But have we really entered the era of 'post-truth' politics? Is debate now framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the facts?
In this module, we'll explore questions such as:
- Should the existence of widespread disagreement in politics make us less confident in our own views?
- Are voters morally or epistemically obligated to vote responsibly?
- Is it rational for citizens to base their political views on group identity rather than reasoned arguments?
- Should we have beliefs about complex policy questions about which we are not experts?
- Is democracy the best form of government for getting at the truth?
This module is worth 20 credits.
Karl Marx's thoughts and words have had an enormous impact on history. Revolutions have been fought, economic policies pursued and artistic movements established by followers (and opponents) of Marxism.
Together we'll examine some of Mark's original writing and explore his thinking. Specific themes we'll cover include:
- the materialist conception of history
- the labour theory of value
By the end of the module you should have a good overview of Marx's attempt to synthesise German philosophy, French political theory, and British economics.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Mind, Psychology and Mental Health
This module will consider mind, psychology, and mental health from a philosophical angle. The module will cover a range of exciting and fundamental topics in the philosophy of mind and psychology (chosen from topics such as, the social mind, animal minds, the nature of consciousness, the mind-body problem, the emotions, imagination, pain, will and action, belief, perception, mind as machine, and artificial intelligence - selected topics will vary from year to year).
We will always ask how these relate to mental health. But the module will also have a more specific focus on mental health as we will take the tools of philosophy of mind and psychology to mental health: we will consider how philosophy of mind and psychology can help us better understand mental health, but also how reflection on mental health can impact work in philosophy of mind and psychology. So the module will also cover content chosen from topics and areas such as the nature of mental health (and mental illness), delusion, thought-insertion, therapy, self-deception and the philosophy of specific mental disorders (for example, addiction, schizophrenia, depression) - specific topics varying from year to year.
So, in sum the module will combine focus on specific topics in philosophy of mind and psychology (with a mental health angle), and specific topics in philosophy of mental health (with a philosophy of mind and psychology angle).
Philosophy and Mortality
Illness, ageing, death and dying are universal experiences. Yet discussion about them often only happens in times of emotional distress.
Together we'll explore philosophical issues related to human mortality in an open, supportive and compassionate way.
As well as a deeper understanding of the issues you will also build capacity to think sensitively and humanely about the human experience of ageing, illness, and dying.
Typical topics might include:
- experiences of being chronically ill
- psychiatry and mental health
- the oppression of ill persons · illness narratives
- the moral and spiritual significance of illness
- the experience of dying
- empathy, grief, and mourning
- death and the meaning of life
- the significance of human mortality to wider philosophical issues and concerns
This module is worth 20 credits.
Philosophy of Criminal Law
There is perhaps no more vivid example of the exercise of state power over individuals than through the institution of criminal law. This power relationship raises a host of important philosophical questions, such as:
- Is there a general obligation to obey the law? If so, what is the basis for this obligation?
- What sorts of acts should be criminalised, and why?
- What does it mean for someone to be responsible for a crime, or for the state to hold someone responsible?
- Is criminal punishment justified? If so, why?
- What is the proper role for the presumption of innocence: Who must presume whom to be innocent of what?
- Is the state ever justified in imposing legal restrictions on offenders even after they have completed their punishment?
- How should the criminal law function in the international context?
We'll look at thinking from across history, from seminal figures such as Plato, Bentham, and Kant, to more contemporary philosophers such as Hart, Hampton, Duff, and others.
No experience of criminal law necessary. Ideal for both philosophers and practitioners.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Philosophy of Education
Education plays a fundamental part in all our lives. It shapes who we are as individuals, our value systems, our political and religious outlooks. As a consequence it changes how society looks, how it operates, and what we think society ought to be like. Education then, is of the most profound importance.
As philosophers we are uniquely placed to think long and hard about education:
- what is its role?
- what should its role be?
- who gets to decide what is taught?
Rising to this challenge this module creates the space, and provides the tools, for you to do just this.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Philosophy of Recreation
We expect recompense when we work but appear to do recreational activities just for their own sake.
You'll use philosophical tools to examine the meaning and value of such recreational activities, exploring questions such as:
- Is recreational sex and drug consumption merely about pleasurable sensations?
- Why do we put such great effort into achieving seemingly arbitrary goals in sport?
- Does it make sense for fans to feel elated if they played no part in a team’s success?
- Is there something special about being in a zone of effortless attention whilst playing an instrument?
- Could risking death seeking sensations of the sublime by climbing a mountain be better than safely siting on your sofa watching trash tv?
Philosophy of Sex
- How many people have you had sex with?
- Is there a difference between sex work and working in a supermarket?
- What is love? Do we chose who we love?
- What is gender? What do we mean when we say 'trans women are women'?
These are some of the many philosophical questions which arise when you start thinking about sex and related topics.
During this module we will tackle the conceptual, moral, political, and metaphysical issues raised by sexual activity. Possible topics we'll look at include:
- the nature of sexual desire
- sexual consent
- sexual objectification
- sexual orientation
Together we'll look at the experiences and testimony of a variety of groups, including those considered sexual and gender minorities. Then we'll use philosophical tools to explore the issues that such testimony raises.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Subjectivism and Relativism in Ethics
One often hears the opinion that ethics is subjective. But what does this mean, exactly?
And one often hears the view that ethics is relative. But relative to what?
And what is ‘ethics’ anyway?
And if ethics is subjective, or relative, what does that mean for ethics as a discipline? Does it mean, for example, that our ethical pronouncements can never be incorrect, never be challenged, or never disagreed with?
This module addresses these and other questions about the foundations of ethics, and gives you the material to develop your own views of this peculiarly human phenomenon.
Taking Utilitarianism Seriously
This module is an extended discussion of utilitarian approaches to moral and political philosophy, including utilitarian accounts of:
- the nature of wellbeing
- reasons and rightness
- rights and justice
- individual decision-making
- praise and blame
Topics in the Philosophy of Science
When we evaluate scientific theories there are a number of criteria not directly connected to predictive success, or even the ability to accommodate the empirical evidence, that collectively are called “theoretical virtues”. For example, we often evaluate theories partly on their simplicity, explanatory power, coherence with other theories, ability to unify disparate domains, fruitfulness for future research, etc.
In this module will focus on one of these theoretical virtues in order to address in detail if and how it is related to epistemic success. Can we, contrary to first impressions, account for the virtue in terms of predictive success? Can we give an epistemic defence of the virtue? Can it be defended on pragmatic grounds? How does our answer to the previous question affect the attitude that we should take towards our best scientific theories?
While we may consider various examples from the history of science, no background knowledge of science or logic (beyond elementary first-year logic) is presupposed. All reading assignments for this module are accessible to students with no training in science. More technical/formal reading materials will be made available to those who are interested, but such readings will not be compulsory for this module.
The Battle for Democracy
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.
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.
Dissertation in Politics and International Relations
This module enables you to undertake a sustained piece of research and analysis into a subject within the discipline of politic and international relations.
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.
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.
Crisis: Death or Survival of Democracy
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.
The 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.
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.
Race and Politics
This module seeks to introduce you to theories of race and racialisation, including, but not limited to, postcolonial theory, orientalism, and intersectionality. After learning about these theoretical lenses, you will study the politics of race in different country contexts through countries’ histories of colonialism and imperialism as well as contemporary racial and ethnic disparities.
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.
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.