POL8041 : Thinking About Politics

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module introduces students to approaches, concepts and debates that span the disciplines of Politics and International Relations (IR). In doing this, the main aim of the module is to provide students with foundational knowledge that will inform their study of more specialist modules that are central to their chosen degree programme and their final dissertation. The module is also designed to enhance students' skills in comparative analysis, critical analysis and essay writing.

Outline Of Syllabus


1. Thinking about politics - introduction to the module
2. Thinking about power and politics
3. Thinking about the state and politics
4. Ontology, epistemology and methodology
5. Rational choice
6. Constructivism
7. Marxism
8. Feminism
9. Post-structuralism
10. Review, recap and preparation for final assignment

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1180:00180:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The seminar will involve a combination of a presentation by the module leader and discussion based around presentations by students. The themes of the seminars will relate to the theoretical, methodological and substantive issues outlined in the module aims. The seminar-based teaching and learning methods will enable students to develop employment-related skills such as interpersonal communication, oral presentation, teamwork, planning and organising, information literacy and problem solving.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M201,500 word essay
Essay1M802,500 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The 1,500 word essay will give students an early opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and essay writing skills. The longer essay assesses students' understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to political research and how those approaches are related to conceptual and theoretical debates in politics. Students will be required to show knowledge of the philosophy of political research and canonical thinkers. This should provide a solid basis for future research while also requiring students to show understanding of the philosophical and conceptual issues raised in the assigned module readings.

Reading Lists