The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.
British Political History Since 1945
This module will introduce and interrogate British political history since 1945. The module will take students through key issues and controversies in post-war British politics and as they relate to leaders and governments and key debates over controversies.
The module will explore a range of issues relating to:
- economic policy
- social policy and the welfare state
- industrial relations
- foreign and defence policy
- local government
- nuclear deterrence
Seminars will employ a range of activity-based scenarios to develop student understanding of key crises experienced by leaders and governments since 1945.
Culture and Values in a Changing World
This module explores the shift from modern to postmodern values, looking at questions like levels of trust in democracies, religion and secularisation, and nationalism. While exploring these themes, you will learn the principles of research design and data analysis using Microsoft Excel.
Using the World Values Survey and a questionnaire designed yourself, you will learn how to compare countries and assess the role of culture in politics.
Introduction to Comparative Politics
This module seeks to compare and contrast the decision-making structures of modern democratic states. Topics to be covered will include:
- government and the state
- the comparative approach
- constitutions and the legal framework
- democratic and authoritarian rule
- political culture
- the political executive
- political parties and party systems
- electoral systems and voting behaviour
- the crisis of democracy
Modern Political Theory
This module introduces you to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Burke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, and Marx. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment). The module will be text based.
Political Theory from Ancient to Modern
This module introduces students to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment). The module will be text based.
Problems in Global Politics
This module explores some of the major problems that exist in contemporary global politics. It introduces you to a wide range of challenges faced by states and non-state actors in the international system and engages with topics ranging from security concerns to economic issues.
The module draws on a wide range of ideas and examples from around the world to help you to better understand global politics.
Understanding Global Politics
This module introduces global politics through the major theoretical, historical and empirical ways of seeing international relations. We consider how different approaches understand global politics, the role of different actors in global politics and different approaches to organising international relations. In particular, the module highlights the major issues of war and peace, and global poverty.
Plus some optional modules from outside the school.
Q-Step Quantitative Methods pathway
You can choose to take a specialised pathway as part of your course, graduating with a BA Politics and International Relations (Quantitative Methods) degree. This pathway is designed to integrate training in the quantitative analysis of a range of datasets. In order to graduate with the 'Quantitative Methods' qualifier, you will need to follow the Q-Step pathway through your degree, selecting 20 credits of Q-Step modules per year (as well as applying the quantitative skills you have developed to your dissertation).
Quantitative Methods for Social Science 1
This module focuses on quantitative methods for the social sciences, and in particular the acquisition of 'quantitative literacy'. The main topics of interest are:
- the character of quantitative data
- their use in description, explanation and forecasting
- their visualisation
- character and use of inferential statistics in the social sciences
- performing basic hypothesis tests
- evaluating reports of quantitative analyses as used in policy, business, regulations and academic literature
- working with statistical software
Throughout the semester there are weekly one-hour lectures, weekly two-hour seminars, plus two four-hour workshops. The module assessment is one 2,000-word piece of coursework.
Quantitative Methods for Social Science 2
This module continues from Quantitative Methods for Social Science 1, which is a prerequisite. The main topics of interest are the character and use of multivariate analysis, and the application of these topics in empirical social science research and in applied non-academic research. Practical training in these topics will be an integral part of the module.
Throughout the semester there are weekly two-hour lectures, weekly two-hour seminars, plus two four-hour workshops. The module assessment is one 2,000-word piece of coursework.
At least one of:
Approaches to Politics and International Relations
The module introduces you to alternative theoretical approaches to the study of political phenomena.
We consider the different forms of analysing, explaining, and understanding politics associated with approaches such as:
- rational choice theory
- interpretive theory
The module shows that the different approaches are based upon contrasting 'ontological' suppositions about the nature of politics, and they invoke alternative 'epistemological' assumptions about how we acquire valid knowledge of politics and international relations.
Contentious Politics: The Struggle for Democracy in Greater China
This module compares and contrasts social and political development in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan from the late 1970s until the present day. It introduces you to rapidly changing state-society relations in three distinctive and yet interrelated Chinese communities. You will analyse the interplay between political institutions and civil society in the Greater China region. More specifically, you will appraise how executive overreach and/or factional infighting among ruling elites have time and again led to cracks in the authoritarian edifice.
Drawing on specific case studies on mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan you will recognise how dissidents, civil society practitioners, and social movement leaders have made good use of resulting political opportunity structures and challenged state authority. You will assess to what extent civil society-led contentious politics has managed or failed to bring about political liberalisation and democratisation in the Greater China region.
At least one of:
How Voters Decide
Elections are the foundation of representative democracy. The act of voting creates a link between citizens' preferences and government policy. This means that the choices voters make have important consequences.
But, how do voters make these choices? Are they based on the policies that parties promise to enact in the future, or is it more about the policy successes (or failures) that parties have experienced in the past? Does the party's leader make a difference? Can campaigns or the media's coverage change how voters see their electoral choices? Finally, given the importance of elections, why do many citizens choose to abstain from the process altogether?
How Voters Decide will explore the choices that citizens make when they participate in elections and it will provide students with the skills necessary to evaluate arguments about electoral behaviour in Britain and beyond.
International Politics in the 20th Century
The module will examine key issues and themes in 20th century international history from 1918 to the end of the Cold War. We will examine themes such as the League of Nations, the Second World War, colonialism and anti-colonialism, the emergence of the Cold War, the space race, the Cuban missile crisis, détente, and the end of the Cold War.
At least two modules from the below:
British Party Politics
Political parties were central to the British political system throughout the 20th century and remain so at the beginning of the 21st. Despite persistent criticism, and perennial claims of their 'decline', parties are an essential component of any student's understanding of British politics and remain the central means by which the electorate passes judgement on the government.
This module examines the structure, ideology and history of British political parties. Topics covered include how the major and minor parties fought the 2015 general election, along with a discussion of how parties adapt to change.
Crises and Controversies in European Politics
This module aims to provide you with a systematic introduction to current debates in the comparative analysis of European politics.
The module adopts a thematic approach and focuses on both traditional fields of comparative enquiry, such as the study of party systems and representation, elections and voting behaviour, party competition and government formation, executive-legislative relations, as well as emerging fields of interest, such as political participation, extreme right politics, immigration, political corruption and the political and social challenges of globalisation and European integration.
The diverse experiences of liberal democracy in European countries and the political and social changes that they have undergone are discussed thematically in the seminars. In the seminars, a country-expert system is used whereby you are assigned a particular country to cover. The module covers both long-established democracies in Western Europe and newer democracies in Central and Eastern Europe.
This module explores issues in global security since the end of the Cold War. It focuses on security in a broad sense, from issues relating to the use of force by states, through to violence by non-state actors, such as terrorist groups, and on to the concept of human security.
The module builds on the first year modules, Understanding Global Politics and Problems in Global Politics, challenging you to deepen your theoretical as well as empirical knowledge in international security. It is also a preparation for the research-led third year modules that require a much more developed capacity of analysing empirical developments from a range of different theoretical perspectives.
International Political Economy and Global Development
This module studies the historical development of international political economy with a specific focus on development as well as the different ways this can be theoretically analysed.
While some speak about the internationalisation of the temporary order, others think in terms of more drastic changes and define them as globalisation. Similarly, while some are very optimistic that increasing free trade administered by the WTO will lead to general development, others argue that this is precisely the mechanism, with which underdeveloped countries are kept in a situation of dependence.
Based on the teaching of background information on different IPE theories and the immediate post-war period, it is these kinds of questions the module will be addressing. The module builds on the first year modules Understanding Global Politics and Problems in Global Politics, challenging you to deepen your theoretical as well as empirical knowledge in IPE.
It is also a preparation for the research-led third year modules, which require a much more developed capacity of analysing empirical developments from a range of different theoretical perspectives.
Political Parties and Party Systems Around the Globe
This module will offer an overview of political party development and the functioning of party systems in democratic states around the world, with a special focus on post-transitional democracies in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Applying a variety of analytical concepts, theoretical approaches and empirical indicators to the study of party politics, the module will highlight the institutional and sociological determinants of party organisation development and system stability as well as the consequences of party failure and party system collapse.
Social and Global Justice
'Justice' has been one of the key themes of political theory at least from the time of Plato, as questions of who gets what, when, and why are absolutely central to political discourse. Should people be able to keep what they earn with their talents, or is it only fair to take wealth away from those who have it to give to those who have little? Do different cultures deserve equal 'recognition'?
Recently these questions of distributive and social justice have taken on a global dimension. Does the developed world have obligations to distant others, and do they have rights against it?
This module will look at these questions from a contemporary perspective, looking at ideas about justice from thinkers such as the utilitarians, John Rawls, Thomas Pogge, Susan Moller Okin, and Bhikhu Parekh.
Social Change and Public Policy in China's Reform Era
This module examines major public policy programs since the beginning of the reform and opening up in the 1978 in the areas of education, environment, media and communications, health, population, labour, ethnicity, along with social changes and their consequences for people's livelihoods.
In addition to exploring the content, evolution and effects of policy in these areas, the module will examine how policies are made and implemented. Lectures will introduce substantive issues and the appropriate theoretical frameworks for making sense of developments on the ground while seminars will help students to understand the impacts of these policies and the social changes accompnaying them.
Airpower and Modern Warfare
The invention of the aircraft fundamentally changed the ways in which wars are fought and won. Over the course of only a century airpower developed into an indispensable instrument of warfare. Today, war without airpower is an unlikely prospect and major military operations, as a rule, are launched with overwhelming air attacks.
In recent years, however, the utility of 'strategic' airpower has increasingly come under question. Whilst technological innovation continues to strengthen airpower's capabilities, the relevance of these capabilities in contemporary conflicts cannot be taken for granted.
This module critically assesses the role of air power in modern conflict within the broader framework of strategic and security studies. It will assess the evolution of air power theory since the First World War and examine the limits of its practical application with reference to specific air campaigns.
Brexit: British Foreign Policy and the Withdrawal from Europe
This module interprets Brexit as the latest manifestation of a prolonged, vexed national debate about Britain's role in the world. It will build on and develop your understanding of material taught at year one and year two.
You will cover a wide variety of topics, all unified by analysis of the question that motivated policy-makers facing these dilemmas at the time: 'in or out of Europe?'
The module content unfolds around the debates that surrounded major foreign policy-related events such as the Cold War, Suez, the end of Empire and decolonisation, the turn to Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, the 1975 EEC membership referendum, the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty, EU enlargement and the Eurozone crisis.
China through Film
The module examines the close linkage between literature and cinema in China. It also explores trends in modern Chinese cinema and literature, with a primary focus on different genres and themes developed since 1978. By placing Chinese cinema and literature within their cultural, social and historical contexts, students will analyse, interpret and appreciate such phenomena.
It will include analyses of individual texts in translation and films with English subtitles. The module requires you to view films in English subtitles each week. It will increase your awareness of the major developments in literature and film as they are embedded in the wider changes in modern China.
Comparative Electoral Systems
This module offers a comparative analysis of electoral rules. The module will focus on the way electoral institutions work, as well as their effects on political outcomes and behaviour.
It will emphasise the rules used to elect presidents and assemblies, and it will examine electoral rules in countries throughout the world, including the U.S, South America, Eastern and Western Europe, and Asia.
This module enables you to undertake a sustained piece of research and analysis into a subject within the discipline of politic and international relations.
Election Campaigns in the US and Beyond
This course is organised around the following question: To what extent are election campaigns in Europe getting 'Americanized' and if so what are its causes and consequences?
The module will familiarise you with the main themes in the study of political communication. We will examine work conducted in the U.S. and Europe about campaign practices and how election campaigns have changed over time. We will analyse the campaign from the perspective of the voters, parties and candidates and the media.
European Union Politics
EU member states by assigning powers to the EU institutions have voluntarily participated in a process that increasingly binds them together. Yet, after all these years of European integration an effective system of political representation is said to be missing.
This module analyses how the growing competencies of the European Union and changing nature of the integration process affect political representation 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.
Fictionalised Politics: How Politics and Politicians are Represented in the US and UK
The module assesses changing attitudes to representative politics in the US and UK, specifically political parties and those who lead them, Prime Ministers, Presidents and the voters themselves through their representation, mostly in films and television dramas and comedies, up to and including The Iron Lady, The Thick of It, Dr Who, The Simpsons, The West Wing and the Ides of March, amongst many others.
The module explores what these fictions say about politics – and assesses what effect they have on how we see 'real' politics?
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.
Government and Politics in the USA
This module will offer an overview of the main political institutions and the behaviour of political actors in the United States, applying a variety of analytic concepts and empirical tools to the study of American politics.
It will in particular focus on rational choice theories of voters and politicians' behaviours addressing the incentives and constraints faced by politicians when choosing public policies. By employing theoretical and empirical tools to study public decision making at the federal and state level, the module will highlight the impact of different institutional arrangements on electoral accountability and policies in the United States.
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.
Immigration and Citizenship
This module will introduce you to the current issues around migration. You will learn to differentiate between different types of immigration such as asylum, labour, family, and irregular as well as different aspects, such as integration and citizenship. The module will identify and analyse political responses to immigration at both national and supranational levels.
International Political Economy of China
This module introduces you to the major topics in China's interaction with and role in international political economy (IPE). It includes useful concepts and theories in IPE, the evolution of China's ties with international political economy since 1949, the linkage between domestic and international political economy of China and players in the making of external political economic policies in China.
It also examines China's role in key international organisations (such as the WTO) and in the global and regional orders of political economy. It provides a survey of the political economy of China's ties with the major powers and regions such as the US, Russia, East Asia, and major oil producing nations.
International Politics of Race
This module is designed to provide an introduction to the international politics of race for final-year students.
The module begins discussing changing historical meaning of race and the changing historical critiques of race focusing on the shift from universalist to relativist approaches. The module goes on to discuss the historical meaning of race in international politics; the colonial experience, Second World War, after the Second World War, and the discrediting of racial theories.
The module then considers the evolving international policy approaches toward race and culture, in particular looking at UNESCO's approaches. Finally the module analyses the changing international debates over the politics of race in light of the election of US President Obama.
Nature, Ecology and Political Thought
This module considers the development of environmental and ecological political thought and how these relate to different forms of politics. It explores the relationship between deep ecology, environmental politics and different forms of anarchism, such as anarcho-primitivism and social ecology.
In addition it examines the 'ecological turn' as it has impacted upon feminism, Marxism, and right-wing thought. It also looks at the tensions between ecological politics and democracy, and at justifications for forms of environmental direct action. These strands of thought will be illustrated through application to specific policy areas such as climate change and species loss.
The module identifies and evaluates the role that Parliament plays in the political system. The module is both descriptive and analytical, comprising an introduction to Parliament (such as its place in the political process, the impact of party) and an investigation into the effectiveness or otherwise of its scrutiny and influence of selected sectors of government responsibility.
It covers the process of legislation, scrutiny, and links with the public. The module also considers the role of the House of Lords.
Politics and Drugs
This module studies the implications of the growing abuse of narcotics for the political system from both a national and international perspective. It will examine the production, consumption and trade in drugs as an international problem.
The development of and issues associated with contemporary British drug policy will be explored and the theoretical questions raised by drug control policy will be examined.
The Politics of Celebrity, Sex and 'Alternative' Lifestyles in China
This module will introduce you to developments in Chinese society, media and popular culture. Through the vehicle of 'alternative' lifestyles it will examine the political, social and economic contexts that have given rise to expanded opportunities, and concomitant responses from the state, for personal and political expression.
The module will provide detailed studies of Chinese celebrity, sex, internet culture, self-development, and numerous subcultures through a lens of class, gender, urbanisation and generation change.
The Politics of East and Central Europe
This module provides a critical assessment of the development of democracy in the post-communist states of East-Central Europe.
It analyses the historical legacy of communism including the imposition of communist rule, the failure of reform and the collapse of the communist system; the political transition, the new constitutional framework, party systems, the development of civil society and non-state mediating institutions, the economic transition from a state-planned to a market economy and the challenges that the social problems of systemic change pose in the area of social policy.
The module concludes by examining the impact of regional co-operation and the integration of post-communist states with the European political, economic and security structures.
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 Science Fiction
The module will look at a selection of science fiction novels and films from the standpoint of a student of political theory. In particular, it will consider the way in which works of literature and film have dealt with the issue of the relationships which exists between politics on the one hand and science/technology on the other.
This module involves part-time placement (one day a week) in an external organisation, and is aimed at developing hands-on work experience and employability skills in a workplace relevant to students of politics. Pre-placement training will be provided via three half-day workshops at the beginning of the module.
Each placement will be arranged by the work placement officer. Placements will be provided by organisations involved in private, public and third sector organisations, such as the civil service, charities and political parties.
Departmental mentoring will take the form of a weekly drop-in tutorial with the module convenor, in which experiences are shared and work is undertaken on the assessment tasks. Group presentations will occur during the final four hour workshop, at which time each group will critically reflect on their experiences of the ethos and goals of their host organisation.
Property and its Critics
Our world is dominated by institutions of private property. Why? What justifies the existence of private property? Why should (these) owners own (this) property? What could justify vast disparities in the ownership of the world's finite resources? Why does (almost) nobody ask these questions?
These are the issues that are explored in this module drawing on a wide range of texts and arguments, ancient and modern.
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.
War and Massacre
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.
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.