POL1049 : Power and Inequality
POL1049 : Power and Inequality
- Offered for Year: 2023/24
- Module Leader(s): Professor Derek Bell
- Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
- Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.
|Semester 2 Credit Value:||20|
|European Credit Transfer System|
Modules you must have done previously to study this module
Pre Requisite Comment
Modules you need to take at the same time
Co Requisite Comment
In this module, we aim:
• to challenge our assumptions about power and inequality;
• to encourage critical thinking about inequalities at the local, national and global scales;
• to introduce different approaches to the study of power and inequality in Politics and International Relations;
• to think about how to choose appropriate approaches for studying specific political issues and how to explain the reasons for our choices;
• to develop key research skills, including: reading analytically; synthesising ideas and evidence; participating effectively in respectful critical discussion; giving and receiving constructive feedback; teamworking; and managing, recording and evaluating your own learning;
• to facilitate successful learning in stage 2 and 3 modules in Politics and International Relations by developing foundational knowledge and skills;
• to foster a “growth mindset” approach to learning.
Outline Of Syllabus
Topics to be covered could include:
We outline the module and explain the novel elements of the teaching format and assessment. We present examples that will be used throughout the module. These are likely to include examples of inequalities related to gender, race, disability, social class, nationality and sexuality (among others).
Describing and measuring inequalities
We introduce different ways of thinking about inequalities, including the distinction between inequality of opportunity and inequality of outcome, as well as different types of inequalities (e.g., economic, social, political, education, health, etc.). We introduce the legal concept of ‘protected characteristics’ and the discussion of inequalities between groups. We look at qualitative descriptions of inequality and the use of quantitative data to measure inequalities.
Explaining inequalities 1: Agents and power
We examine how the existence of inequalities has been explained in politics and international relations. We begin with explanations that emphasise the role of agents exercising power over their own or others’ lives. We introduce the one- and two-dimensional views of power and consider examples of how they feature in explanations of inequalities at local, national and global scales. We examine how people, including members of elites or other advantaged groups, use power to maintain inequalities that are to their advantage.
Explaining inequalities 2: Structures, institutions and power
We move on to approaches that emphasise the role of structures or institutions, such as democratic political institutions or capitalist economic institutions, in creating and maintaining inequalities. We introduce Lukes’ three-dimensional view of power. We use a variety of institutionalist and structuralist theories to illustrate the diversity of approaches used to explain inequalities across the discipline of politics and international relations. We compare structural and institutional approaches with agency-based approaches. We also consider how explanations of inequalities can refer both to structures and agents.
Explaining inequalities 3: Ideas, language and power
Finally, we consider approaches that emphasise the role of ideas and language in creating and maintaining inequalities. We introduce Foucault’s work on power. We provide examples of discourse-, and language-based explanations of inequalities. We also discuss unconscious bias. We consider how explanations of inequalities might refer to agents, structures and ideas.
So far, we have considered what inequalities exist and how they might be explained. We end the module by considering which inequalities are unjust. We introduce a normative political philosophy approach to thinking about inequalities. We consider how theories of justice can be used to justify or critique inequalities and the actions, institutions and ideas that create or maintain them.
Intended Knowledge Outcomes
At the end of the module it is expected students will be able to:
• Discuss quantitative and qualitative data that describes inequalities in the contemporary world;
• Compare alternative explanations of how power causes and maintains inequalities;
• Analyse normative arguments about which inequalities are unjust;
• Distinguish alternative approaches to the study of power and inequality in Politics and International Relations;
• Choose appropriate approaches for studying specific political issues and explain the reasons for their choices.
Intended Skill Outcomes
At the end of the module it is expected students will be able to:
• Read analytically so that they can identify key elements of a text, including its research questions, key concepts, theoretical framework, assumptions, methods, conclusions, evidence and the structure of its argument;
• Synthesise ideas and evidence from multiple sources so that they can integrate previous work on a topic to answer a research question;
• Communicate ideas orally and listen to others carefully so that they can participate effectively in respectful critical discussion of issues in Politics and International Relations;
• Give and receive constructive feedback on writing so that they can improve their own writing and help others to improve their writing;
• Work as part of a team to complete various tasks;
• Manage, record and evaluate their own learning so that they can achieve, and recognise when they are achieving, intended learning outcomes.
|Guided Independent Study||Assessment preparation and completion||5||8:00||40:00||Five research portfolio tasks to be completed during the module.|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Lecture||10||2:00||20:00||In person lecture. PiP.|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Small group teaching||10||1:00||10:00||Small group seminars (up to 25 students) to work on weekly study group activities. PiP.|
|Structured Guided Learning||Structured research and reading activities||11||2:00||22:00||Individual preparation for seminars.|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Drop-in/surgery||3||1:00||3:00||Assessment surgeries|
|Guided Independent Study||Independent study||1||105:00||105:00||N/A|
Teaching Rationale And Relationship
The lecture materials will introduce students to key approaches to the study of power and inequality as well as demonstrating key skills (e.g., analysing texts and arguments). The structured research and reading activities will help students to develop their understanding of key approaches to the study of power and inequality as well as practicing key academic skills. The preparation for seminars will enable students to develop their understanding of power and inequality through more detailed engagement with key readings. The seminars will support student learning and help to promote understanding of power and inequality.
Independent study will enable students to further develop their knowledge and skills. Students will use the time for assessment preparation and completion to write up the short pieces for their research portfolio. Assessment surgeries will be provided to support students to complete their research portfolio.
The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners
|Portfolio||2||M||100||3500 word research portfolio made up of 5 x 700 word papers/reports.|
Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.
|Written exercise||2||M||Students have the option of submitting a sample 700 word paper/report for formative feedback before they submit their Research Portfolio.|
Assessment Rationale And Relationship
Students are required to submit a research portfolio, which should be 3500 words in length. The portfolio should include specific pieces of writing (ideally) completed at intervals during the module. Each research portfolio piece will require students to demonstrate knowledge of specific inequalities as well as key research skills, including analysis and synthesis.
Students are encouraged to submit a sample 700 word paper/report for formative feedback before they submit their Research Portfolio.
Past Exam Papers
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