Single honours students will study all of the following modules. Combined honours students will study three of these modules: Introduction to European Politics and Europe: Continent to Community plus one optional module.
Introduction to European Politics
This module has two aims; first, to provide you with an understanding of key issues and themes in the study of European politics: the history and role of the European Union and other European institutions; the ideological basis European integration history and the ups and downs of European democracy. Second, to develop the key skills students will need to progress through your university career, particularly essay writing and presentation skills.
Europe: From Continent to Community
This module will introduce you to the politics, policies and Member States of the European Union. It will combine the ‘politics’ priorities of institutions, sovereignty and decision making, with the ‘international relations’ focus on global and regional issues pertaining largely to conflict and cooperation. As such, the policies and politics, the institutions and integrations will be examined both from an historical and a theoretical perspective.
British Politics in Context
This module will help you build a firm foundation of knowledge about the issues and challenges which have preoccupied British politicians and voters in past decades, many of which continue to concern us today and all of which have had a crucial bearing on contemporary political practice. The module will subject crucial aspects of contemporary British political history to critical analysis. You will end up better informed and more sceptical, better able to tackle the more advanced modules available in British politics in the second and final year.
Contemporary Global Politics
Key issues addressed in this module include the emergence of modern empires, the emergence of a global political world where state power is less significant. The module will allow you to see how the acquisition, possession and loss of state power became systematised over time and in different ways, and enable you to explain critically the responses which have been made to this loss of power, from protectionism to full scale war.
Key Political Thinkers
This module aims to provide an introduction to classic and modern European political theory. Key thinkers will include Machiavelli, Hobbes, Lock and Kant. Its focus is political philosophy. Several areas of contestation including the nature of good government, the importance of discourses of human rights, and the role of national interest will emerge, providing you with the necessary theoretical and conceptual tools to make connections between the political concerns of the past and present – be it at the national, European, or international levels.
Power, Politics and the State
The module aims to introduce you to some of the key issues and challenges pertaining to the study of the state, its modes of power (territory and sovereignty), methods of political representation, and broader forms of governance. Key questions will include: What is the nature of political power? How does it operate in practice? What concepts are used to explain the role of the state, and its principle attribute of sovereignty? What is the relationship between political and economic power?
Contemporary Language Studies
We also offer the possibility to study a modern language in all three years. Languages offered vary year on year but typically include modern languages such as: French, Spanish, Italian, German and Mandarin Chinese.
EU: Power Policy and Integration
This module is designed to provide an in depth understanding of the European Union; based on both its legal foundations and the political will of its member states to engage in the ambitious, and unique, European integration project. Themes to be examined will include; the scope of community power – why do states cede autonomy to a European supranational body? The supremacy of EU law – to what extent, and under what conditions, must member states apply EU directives and legislation? The complexity of EU decision making – why are different legislative procedures used for different policy areas? The judicial system – what role is played by direct actions and preliminary rulings within the judicial system? We will also examine some of the major policy areas covered by the EU; for example, the continuing debate over the role of the EU in a common defence strategy; and some of its major legal doctrines.
European Political Economy
This module is designed to provide you with an introduction to the fundamental concepts of Political Economy progressing on to investigate the specific details of European Political Economy and the current economic and financial predicament known as the ‘Eurocrisis’. You will first investigate the basic principles of political economy – stateeconomy relations, the function of central banks, international finance – before going on to apply them to the study of the political economy of the EU. Themes to be examined may include questions such as – why have governments become less powerful relative to central banks and international financial markets? What is the function of central banks in modern economies and why have they become so important? Can international financial markets be tamed for the benefit of the state or are they there to serve the best interests of the state? What effect has EMU had on the economies of the old and ‘new’ member states? Why was the Euro founded? What caused the Eurocrisis and what are the necessary steps to see it resolved, indeed if they can be solved?
Likely optional modules
British Politics: Continuity and Change
This module introduces you to the structure of British politics and the practical functioning of British government. Providing a contemporary focus, the main political and administrative institutions in the British system will be examined and set within a comparative context. This module will examine alternative political processes as well as the formal institutions of state; therefore powerful forces such as political parties, nongovernmental organisations and the British media will be examined alongside institutions such as Parliament, the Prime Minister, the civil service and the constitutional monarchy.
Comparative Politics: States and Societies
This module is based on the long tradition of comparative political science and seeks to give you the critical knowledge and understanding required to appreciate the importance of global events and to analyse contemporary political institutions. In terms of practical comparative analysis, themes such as the following may be addressed: How do rates, and means, of political participation vary between countries? What impact do parliamentary structures have on political outcomes? Can we measure the impact of the powerful individual leader? To what extent is ‘democratisation’ an unstoppable force in international politics? How and why do countries make the transition from authoritarian to democratic regimes? This module will address questions such as these and many more.
Federalism, Multinationalism and the Future of Europe (summer school)
The module aims to develop awareness of the connection between the development of regional forms of government (in federal and regional states), the issue of multinationality and the evolution of the European Union. It studies the evolution and functioning of federal and regional government in a number of countries (including Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the USA, Canada and Bosnia and Herzegovina) and also provides some important insight into the discourses of federal theory (by focusing on the connection of federalism and democracy and the study of federalism and socialism). Finally, the module aims at assessing the role of the European Union (EU) in the federalist discourse.
This module aims to introduce you to the key debates in contemporary global ethics, from the cosmopolitanism versus communitarianism debate to the deontological versus consequentialist approach to politics. This module will also offer a number of conceptual and theoretical tools that will allow you to understand and assess politics and political action through an ethical and moral prism. Finally, it gives you the opportunity to understand in detail the ethical dilemmas associated with some of most pressing issues in contemporary global politics, namely, the legitimacy of international humanitarianism, the utility of development aid or the role multinational corporations play in fulfilling an ethical agenda in the international markets.
This module has three aims. First, it provides a broad introduction to concepts and examples of globalisation and governance using a range of ‘globalisation theories’ including approaches to governance, regime theory, neoliberal institutionalism and hegemonic stability theory. Second, it provides a detailed exploration of international, suprastate and global dynamics, their mandate, composition, operation and impact across a range of international policymaking. Third, it presents a series of practical, institution specific case studies, by which to explore in detail four specific themes of multilateral policymaking that arguably display differing forms of contemporary governance: Security (e.g. UN, IAEA, NATO, OSCE, EU), Justice (e.g. ICJ, ICC, ICTY, ICTR), Environment (e.g. UNEP, CEC, EU), Humanitarian Issues (e.g. UN agencies including UNCDF, UNCHS, UNDP, UNHCR, UNRWA, WFP, IBRD, EBRD).
The main aim of this module is to develop your appreciation of the importance of political enquiry, the contours of the empirical research process, and refine your ability to utilise these methods in your academic work. Through practical engagement and application of research skills you will gain an understanding of how the political arena operates in reality, and how to apply your research skills and wider subject knowledge to the realm of concrete politics.
Power and Strategy
This module explores the range of external dynamics facing the European Union as it strives to assert itself as a region, a foreign policy actor, a neighbour, and a source of European power. It will combine the ‘politics’ priorities of examining international institutions alongside national sovereignty and forms decision making, with the ‘international relations’ focus on regional and global issues pertaining to national interest, foreign policy, European foreign policy and international engagement. This module thus examines the foundational aspects of European strategic culture in terms of its historical development, conceptual schools of thought, empirical impact on decisionmaking modes, and case study examples highlighting the implementation of key EU outputs.
The Individual Study is designed to allow you to study indepth an area of special interest, encouraging wide research, relative autonomy, timemanagement, disciplined pursuit of goals and the enhancement of knowledge and skills bases. In relation to benchmark aims students will be encouraged to tackle topics which will enhance knowledge of concepts, questions and approaches pivotal to the politics area, presented with a balanced view of the areas of contestation which are inherent within the discipline.
Likely optional modules
This module provides a general outline to study of security. Students will first look at the conceptual and theoretical history of Security Studies. Themes to be examined will include: NATO after the end of the Cold War and the security priorities for the United Kingdom. This will be followed by an indepth study of what is known in the literature as ‘Critical Security Studies’. Here, the main theoretical schools – from the Copenhagen School to PostColonialism will be discussed at length, supported by the analysis of specific case studies as diverse as the Arab Spring or global warming as a security issue. The third and last part of the module deals with the interaction between theory and technological development, focusing on postmodernity and risk as conceptual tools for the understanding of issues such as cybersecurity or the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the socalled drones.
EU Foreign Affairs
This offering provides an advanced but cutting edge exploration of the challenges surrounding contemporary EU foreign policy as the EU – in the wake of Lisbon Treaty implementation now strives to assert itself as a region, a foreign policy actor, a neighbour, and a source of European power. It will combine the ‘politics’ priorities of examining international institutions alongside national sovereignty and forms decision making, with the ‘international relations’ focus on regional and global issues pertaining to national interest, foreign policy, European foreign policy and international engagement.
Parliament plays a key role in the British political system, but that role is often misunderstood. This module will explore this role, and adopt both a descriptive and analytical approach in doing so. It will provide an introduction to the Westminster Parliament, and examine where it fits into the political system as a representative institution. It will explore the key functions performed by parliament, in terms of deliberation, legislation and scrutiny, along with analysis of proposals to reform these functions. It will also examine the relationship between parliament and the public, and contemporary discussions about how this relationship might be improved. The module will cover both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and will also, where useful, include some analysis of the devolved institutions.
Politics of Migration
The module will aim to address a range of crucial political and ethical questions pertaining to the issue of migration perhaps one of the most ideologically contested topics in contemporary politics. This module will introduce you to the debates and controversies which surround the politics of migration in all its varied forms. This may include high and lowskilled labour migration, the ethics of migration, lifestyle migration, refugees, internally displaced persons and human trafficking. The module will outline how patterns of migration and perceptions of migrants have changed over time. We will examine how different forms of migration are governed at state, regional and global levels and the motivations for and effectiveness of practices and policies used by states and nonstate actors to manage, control, or protect migrants.
Radical Political Thought
The module will aim to address a range of crucial political and philosophical themes and issues at the heart of contemporary radical political thought, including Marxism/postMarxism and Anarchism/postAnarchism. Key thinkers to be explored include Althusser, Laclau and Mouffe, Geras, Badiou, and Žižek. Key questions will include: To what extent are the ‘problems of Marxism’ insurmountable for its reform? Is ideology a permanent aspect of human existence? Can a revolutionary ethics address the issue of ‘dirty hands’? How does desire motivate politics? Can we imagine a world free of ‘the state’? Is social clear still relevant for emancipatory politics? How important is the ecological ‘crisis’ for our understanding of radical politics? Can we imagine a world ‘beyond capitalism’? Is the ‘idea of communism’ dead?