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POL1046 : Order and Disorder: The Shaping of the 21st Century

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ben Coulson
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


•       To introduce students to key political ideas, movements, and events which have contributed to the shaping of the 21st century
•       To introduce debates over the differing interpretations of political history
•       To deepen and broaden students’ awareness of historical context
•       To equip students with factual and conceptual knowledge which will promote their ongoing study of contemporary politics

Outline Of Syllabus

Will the 21st century witness a ‘clash of civilizations’? Or is history leading towards ever increasing forms of liberal democracy? Structured around the concepts of order and disorder in the international system, this module introduces students to key ideas and events of 20th century history. It focuses on those events which have led to the most dramatic changes in politics at the national and international levels and which have helped to shape the 21st century. Topics include but are not limited to: the rise of fall of great powers, revolution, colonialism, the two World Wars, the Cold War, economic crises in the 20th and 21st centuries, the debate over a new world order in the 1990s, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, the War on Terror, and the rise of China.. By covering these key areas, the module provides a solid foundation for future studies in Politics and reinforces an element of progression in the programme. The module goes beyond merely discussing history by focusing on the relevance of historical events and their interpretations for contemporary politics. By presenting the material in an engaging fashion, the module seeks to enhance student motivation and encourage them to expand their knowledge of historical context through independent study.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion182:0082:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study182:0082:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are crucial to provide students with an introduction to key ideas, movements, and events which have helped shape the 21st century. Lectures will include visual aids (e.g. power point slides, maps, etc) to help re-enforce students’ understanding. The lecturers own research into these topics will provide engaging examples and contribute towards the goal of research informed teaching. Seminars will allow students to follow up these ideas and issues by asking questions and debating amongst themselves. It provides the context for students to articulate their knowledge and understanding and to help them prepare for written assessment.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A50Unseen written exam
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M50due after POL1045 essay. 1500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay will help enable students to develop skills of critical analysis and provide an opportunity for them to hone their abilities to reason systematically and write clearly, as well as develop bibliographical skills. The essay will also allow students to explore a topic in depth and permit them to discuss, in brief, debates over historical interpretation and context in relation to a specific historical case. The exam will test students for their broad knowledge of the historical events covered in the module. These assessments act in tandem so as to test students on both their broad and specific knowledge of the module content.

Reading Lists