Marxism: Politics and International Relations - PO653

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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6 15 (7.5) DR P Cunliffe




Stage 3 only.
Preference may be given to Politics and International Relations students (single and joint Honours).



The module is aimed to introduce students to Marxist theory and to enable them to assess both the contemporary and historical significance of Marxism in world politics. Students are expected to read some of the key texts of Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels and to consider varied interpretations and critiques of Marxist methods, writings and theories. Students are also expected to consider the political contexts in which these theories and debates emerged and their implications for political practice. Students are not expected to demonstrate any detailed knowledge of the history of Marxist-inspired governments, regimes or political movements.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

150 hours including 44 lecture/seminar; 106 study hours. Autumn term.
(lecture/seminar hours split: 22 lecture/seminar and 22 'Capital' lecture/seminar)

Method of assessment

60% coursework (3000 word essay (40%), seminar participation (10% for standard seminar participation, and 10% for capital seminar participation)), 40% exam (2hr)

Indicative reading

Goran Therborn, 'From Marxism to Post-Marxism' (London: Verso, 2008)
Francis Wheen, 'Karl Marx' (London: Fourth Estate, 2010)
Fredrick Engels, 'Socialism: Utopian and Scientific' (multiple editions)
David Harvey, 'The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism' (London: Profile Books, 2010)
Karl Marx, 'Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts' (multiple editions)
Schlomo Avineri, 'The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968)
Jonathan Joseph, 'Marxism and Social Theory' (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
- Understand the main ideas of Karl Marx, Fredrick Engels and later Marxists in relation to politics and international relations.
- Demonstrate first-hand knowledge of some of the principal writings of Marx, Engels and some later Marxists.
- Demonstrate familiarity with major Marxist debates and theories.
- Understand the political context within which key Marxist theories and debates emerged.
- Understand some of the major criticisms of Marxism.
- Deploy Marxism as an explanatory theory and understand its political implications.

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