Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Philosophy and Politics - BA (Hons)

UCAS code LV25

2019

Studying Philosophy and Politics, you engage with the world’s major philosophies and the thinkers who describe the processes shaping our lives from within, alongside the global political environment that shapes our lives from without.

2019

Overview

What is philosophy? Why is it important? Is it relevant? As a student of Philosophy at Kent, you do not so much learn about philosophy as learn to do it yourself. This includes not only studying major philosophies and philosophers, but also contributing your own ideas to an ongoing dialogue. You develop the ability to connect the most abstract ideas to the most concrete things in our experience.

There is active research culture in the Department of Philosophy at Kent, with internationally recognised experts whose interests range from philosophers such as Hegel, Kant and Wittgenstein to topics such as the philosophy of the mind, ethics, aesthetics, logic, political philosophy, metaphysics and artificial intelligence. 

Politics is an exciting, fast-changing, broad-based discipline. Our programmes are extremely flexible and offer extensive module choice, reflecting the research interests of our staff, including conflict resolution, federalism, comparative politics, European integration, ethnic conflict, terrorism, the theory of international relations, political theory, and the politics of countries such as China, Japan, Russia and the USA.

The School of Politics and International Relations is one of the UK's most exciting and dynamic places to study. This programme gives you a solid grounding in politics as well as focusing on the international and global dimension of contemporary world politics and international relations

This is an ideal combination for anyone wanting to appreciate the breadth and complexities of our ideas as well as engage with the fast-changing key issues of today's world.

Independent rankings

Philosophy at Kent was ranked 14th for teaching quality and 19th overall in The Times Good University Guide 2018.

In the National Student Survey 2017, over 94% of final-year Philosophy students who responded to the survey were satisfied with the overall quality of their course. Philosophy at Kent was ranked 12th for overall satisfaction.

Politics at Kent was ranked 9th in The Guardian University Guide 2018. In the National Student Survey 2017, over 91% of final-year Politics students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

Teaching Excellence Framework

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Modules may include Credits

This module begins with a critical examination of Rene Descartes' justly celebrated Meditations on First Philosophy (published, originally, in 1641). This work not only provides a comprehensive account of Descartes' philosophical system, but also constitutes an admirable introduction to The Theory of Knowledge and to Metaphysics. Thus, Descartes' fundamentally Rationalist account of our knowledge of the external world is duly contrasted with the Empiricist accounts offered by such Twentieth Century Philosophers as Bertrand Russell and A.J.Ayer; while Descartes' Dualism is compared with the other major metaphysical doctrines, namely, Idealism, Phenomenalism and contemporary Physicalism. The module concludes with a survey of what is, perhaps, the most perplexing of metaphysical problems, namely, The Problem of Freewill and Determinism.

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15

This module will introduce students to a number of big questions in ethics. The questions may include the following: What makes a life good? Is it happiness? Or is it something else? Another big question is: What makes actions right or wrong? Is it God demanding or forbidding them? Or are actions perhaps right to the extent that they serve to make lives better off, and wrong to the extent that they make lives worse off? Some philosophers have thought so. Others wonder: What if I steal money from someone so rich that my act in no way makes their life go any worse. Might it still be the case that I have acted wrongly—even if I haven't made anyone worse off? A third bit question is this: What’s the status of morality? Is it, for example, the case that what’s right for me might be wrong for you? Does it make any sense at all to talk about moral claims being true or false, even relative to moral communities? Might moral judgments be nothing but expressions of sentiments? Throughout the course, students will be examining these and similar questions from the point of view of a variety of philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and David Hume.

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15

Since Plato's Dialogues, it has been part of philosophical enquiry to consider philosophical questions using logic and common sense alone. This module aims to train students to continue in that tradition. In the first part students will be introduced to basic themes in introductory formal logic and critical thinking. In the second part students will be presented with a problem each week in the form of a short argument, question, or philosophical puzzle and will be asked to think about it without consulting the literature. The problem, and students’ responses to it, will then form the basis of a structured discussion. By the end of the module, students (a) will have acquired a basic logical vocabulary and techniques for the evaluation of arguments; (b) will have practised applying these techniques to short passages of philosophical argument; and (c) will have acquired the ability to look at new claims or problems and to apply their newly acquired argumentative and critical skills in order to generate philosophical discussions of them.

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15

What do philosophers do? How do they think? What do they typically think about? How do philosophers write? What sorts of writing are acceptable in philosophy? How should you write? How should philosophy best be read in order to be understood and assessed?'

In this module we will introduce you to some of the most interesting questions in philosophy, both from its history and from current debates. As we do this we will show you how to think, read and write as a philosopher.

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15

This core module introduces students to the wide range of different methodologies commonly employed in political science. This includes the scientific method and both traditional and newer forms of research. Students will also be introduced to some of the fields of inquiry that dominate the study of politics, including public choice, social movements, political behaviour, economic development and democracy. The module integrates these two main components to create both an awareness of the breadth of political science and its approaches, ultimately providing students with the foundation for further study in political science. Substantive topics include: the nature of inquiry (questioning and determining what constitutes evidence), methods of comparison, theory and hypotheses. They will also be introduced to and explore quantitative methods, formal methods, experimental methods and empirical quantitative methods. Students will implement basic quantitative research techniques for themselves. Finally, they will be introduced to concepts such as equivalence, selection bias, spuriousness, value bias and ecological and individualist fallacy in order to illuminate the difficulties faced when making comparisons.

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15

The module introduces students to the empirical study of the key structures, institutions and processes in political life. It does so through the lens of the comparative method, in which political systems are compared and contrasted to test hypotheses about the factors producing similarities and differences across countries and over time. The module first introduces the comparative method, and then discusses the different ways in which political systems can be organized and classified. It focuses on the three key powers in all political systems – executive, legislative and judicial – the ‘intermediate’ actors that link people to their governments, namely political parties, interest groups and the media, and how citizens behave politically in relations to such institutions and actors. Throughout the module, students are encouraged to identify the factors and the processes leading to different political outcomes across states and over time and to use both qualitative and quantitative data to support their arguments.

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15
You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Stage 2

Modules may include Credits

This course builds on students' knowledge of the approaches and methods used in the study of politics and international relations introduced in the first year of the degree program and the foundation in the analysis of quantitative data established in the second year. Students will be asked to consider the nature and purposes of descriptive and causal analysis in politics and international relations. Students will develop skills in choosing, using and evaluating the research designs, and techniques for the collection and analyses of data used by researchers in these fields. Emphasis in the course will be placed on a mixed methods approach to political analysis that enables student to integrate, analyse and evaluate both qualitative and quantitative data. In addition to developing a conceptual and theoretical understanding of different approaches to evidence gathering and analyses and how they can be combined, students will also have the opportunity to extend their skills in practical data analyses.

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15

The study of social and political phenomena is a vast endeavour and this class will serve as an introduction to methods for social science research. This 15 credit intermediate-level module is normally taken in Stage II. It provides a basic, non-technical introduction to the use of quantitative methods in the political sciences for students from a variety of educational backgrounds (including those with very limited knowledge of mathematical terminology and notation). The progression of this course will address scientific research design and methodology and consider many examples of such research In short, it seeks to enable students to read, interpret, and critically assess arguments drawing on quantitative methods in Politics and International Relations. Students with some prior exposure to quantitative methods will have the opportunity to improve their command of statistical software as well as apply their general statistical skills to data sets commonly found in policy and academic work.

The module is divided into two main components: In the first part, students will be introduced to both the logic of empirical research in the social sciences and to basic concepts and techniques of descriptive uni-, bi-, and multi-variate data analysis. The second part will focus on uni-, bi-, and multi-variate inferential statistics. ICT skills will be acquired/enhanced of students by the introduction to and use of statistical software (SPSS). The focus will be on student-centred learning and critical reflection of selected examples of quantitative work in seminars and group work.

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15

This module provides an introduction to some of the major works in ancient Greek philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. The emphasis throughout will be on the philosophical significance of the ideas studied. The module will concentrate on understanding key philosophical arguments and concepts within the context of the ancient Greek intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how Greek philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.

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30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of philosophical issues arising from medical research and medical practice. Students will consider attempts to define the following terms – health, illness, and disease – and discuss what rests on their definition. Much medical practice proceeds as though medicine were a natural science. This module will probe the limitations of this conception. The placebo effect demonstrates the powerful influence of suggestion on the body and students will consider its relevance to philosophical ideas of the mind-body relation. Finally, students will consider ethical issues arising in medical practice, such as 'medically assisted death'.

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30

The module will enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding of Wittgenstein's approach to philosophy, and to acquire familiarity with major themes especially in the areas of epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. The module will give students practice in deploying their critical philosophical skills.

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30

Groups of marks or bursts of sound are just physical entities but, when produced by a writer or a speaker, they are used to point beyond themselves. This is the property of aboutness or intentionality. Other physical entities generally do not have this property. When you hear a sentence, you hear a burst of sound, but typically you also understand a meaning conveyed by the speaker. What is the meaning of a word – some weird entity that floats alongside the word, a set of rules associating the word with objects, an intention in the mind of the speaker….? What is the difference between what your words imply and what you convey in saying them? How are words used non-literally, how do hearers catch on to the meaning of a newly minted metaphor? How can we mean and convey so much when uttering a concise sentence? When someone says something offensive, is it part of its meaning that it is offensive, or just how it is used? In this module we shall try to find some answers to the questions listed above.

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30

The aim of this course is to engage in the study of specific topics in the philosophy of mind, language, or action and to engage with the criticism of contemporary approaches as it is found in the works of Wittgenstein, Ryle, Anscombe, and/or Austin.

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30

Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct reasoning from incorrect reasoning and, as such, it is a crucial component of any philosophy course. Moreover, logic has applications other than the testing of arguments for cogency: it is also a widely used and useful tool for clarifying the problematic concepts that have traditionally troubled philosophers, e.g., deductive consequence, rational degree of belief, knowledge, necessary truth, identity, etc. Indeed, much contemporary philosophy cannot be understood without a working knowledge of logic. Given this, logic is an important subject for philosophy students to master.

The module will primarily cover propositional and predicate logic. Regarding propositional and predicate logic, the focus will be on methods for testing the validity of an argument. These methods will allow students to distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning. The module will also cover inductive and modal logics. Regarding inductive and modal logics, the focus will be on clarifying epistemological concepts through the use of these logics.

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30

The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. An indicative list of topics is: The Turing test; the Chinese Room argument; the frame problem; connectionism; extended and embodied cognition; artificial consciousness. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

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30

How does truth relate to existence? This module looks at the connection between truths and the things that make them true. We consider questions relating to the connection between truth and ontology (or existence) concerning time, persistence, possibility, generality, composition, and causation. We will look at how these issues are discussed in contemporary analytic metaphysics. We will explore both what solutions looking at the connections between truth and ontology might offer, whether this approach to the problems is useful, and how best to communicate the problems we discuss.

Read more
30

Is it right that the talented profit from their (undeserved) talents? Should the government provide compensation for people who find it hard to meet that special someone? Should we think our duties to our compatriots are more important than our duties to people in other countries?

This course is divided into two parts. The first part examines classic topics in political philosophy, such as Rawls Theory of Justice, Nozick's libertarianism and the feminist and communitarian criticism of political liberalism. The second part of the course will explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as equality, our obligations to those in the developing world, and the politics of immigration. We will consider whether we can make sense of political obligation between states as well as within states. We will look at these issues in the context of particular recent case studies.

Read more
30

The curriculum will typically be focused on an important classic or recent philosophical work. In addition, students will typically be expected to read critical commentaries. (Alternatively, a convenor may choose a small number of classic texts on a unified and important theme).

Exactly what the curriculum will be will differ from year to year. The point of introducing this module, and the sister module Philosophical Texts 2: Normative Ethics (PL626/627), is to offer students the chance to study a single text (or small number of texts) in a very focussed manner, and to introduce more variety into the curriculum. Things are left open so that the text can be altered each year as appropriate and so that different lecturers are given the chance to teach a different text.

Although not set in stone, typically this module will focus on a classic philosophical work, and Phil Text 2 will focus on a recently published work.

Read more
30

The curriculum will typically be focused on an important classic or recent philosophical work. In addition, students will typically be expected to read critical responses and commentaries. (Alternatively, a convenor may choose a small number of texts on a unified and important theme)

Exactly what the curriculum will be will different from year to year. The point of introducing this module, and the sister module Philosophical Text 1, is to offer students the chance to study a single text (or small number of texts) in a very focussed manner, and to introduce more variety into the curriculum. Things are left open so that the text can be altered each year as appropriate and different lecturers are given the chance to teach a different text.

Although not set in stone, typically this module will focus on a recently published philosophical work, and Phil Text 1 will focus on a classic text. (See section 15.)

The outline given to students will, obviously, change from year to year depending on the text studied.

For 2016-17:

Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher of the 20th century. He believed that good philosophy requires awareness of the radical limitations of human existence, especially of our constant background anxiety and our mortality. He was not a nice analytic philosopher writing abstract texts on relatively innocent technical topics, but a clever and nasty man, who struggled with his inner demons and succumbed to the temptations of his dark age (which is also our age). In these lectures I will discuss the views that Heidegger developed on art and poetry in the 1930s, for example in his essay on the Origin of the Work of Art and his essay "Why Poets?". His views on art and poetry were not simply contributions to 'aesthetics', 'art history' or 'literature theory', but attempts to show the immense importance of art and poetry to philosophy itself. Unlike most people, he did not consider art and poetry to be 'cultural products', but defining features of the human predicament in the world. He claimed that poetry is the essence of language, language is the house of Being, and Being is the happening of truth. Do you want to know what all this means? Come to the dark side.

Read more
30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of approaches in what is often referred to as "normative ethics". We face and hear about moral problems every day. These problems range from life and death matters concerning abortion, euthanasia and the like to other types of case such as whether to tell a lie to prevent hurting someone's feelings. At some point we might wonder whether there is a set of rules or principles (such as 'Do not lie') which will help us through these tricky problems; we might wonder whether there is something more simple underlying all of this 'ethical mess’ that we can discern.

Normative ethics contains a number of theories that attempt to give us such principles and to sort out the mess. In particular, different normative ethical theories are attempts to articulate reasons why a certain course of action is ethically best; they are attempts to say what types of feature we should concentrate on when thinking about ethical problems and why it is that such features are features which have ‘intrinsic moral significance’. Of course, ethical theories do not exist in a vacuum. As we shall see, our everyday intuitions about what is morally best are both the origin of normative ethical theories and the origin of thoughts raised against them. In all of this, the course will be examining these theories by starting with their historical roots, particularly focussing on the work of J. S. Mill, Immanuel Kant and Aristotle.

Read more
30

Many people today are reluctant to identify themselves as 'feminist': either because they see feminism as a useful political movement that has essentially served its purposes; or because they view feminism as a 'single-issue', militant ideology that they cannot identify with. This module is intended to give students an opportunity to reflect philosophically on what claims like this could mean: if we live in a post-feminist era, why do women earn, on average, two thirds of what their male counterparts earn? If we live in post-feminist era, why are women still under-represented in many fields (including politics, science and academic philosophy?). If feminism is a 'single-issue' ideology, why is it that feminists have proposed such a variety of solutions to the above problems, and from such a wide range of political standpoints?

The module explores some key debates in contemporary feminist philosophy, with particularly emphasis on its uncomfortable relationship with liberalism. The course draws attention to feminist critiques of key liberal concepts, such as consent, the social contract, autonomy, universal rights, and the private/public distinction. We go on to apply theoretical debates in feminist thought to the following political issues: prostitution, pornography, feminine appearance, multiculturalism, and human rights.

Read more
30

This module will introduce students to classical as well as contemporary discussions in the intersection between politics, philosophy, and economics. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Topics which may be covered include Authoritarianism, Behavioural economics, Rational Choice Theory, Game Theory, Libertarianism and Paternalism, Markets and Trade, Private Property and the Legitimacy of Organ Sale.

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies contained in politics, philosophy, and economics, and enable them to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30

The course will begin by looking at various philosophical problems, as presented in films. This will involve discussing a range of different philosophical topics, from different areas of philosophy. Film here is presented as a way into the philosophical discussion, which will be supplemented by appropriate primary and secondary texts. The course will then consider ways in which the medium of film itself presents philosophical problems.

Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Philosophical issues presented through film will include, but will not be restricted to, time travel, existentialism and Philosophy of art. Philosophical Issues concerning film will include, but will not be restricted to 'is film art?', 'what is film?' and 'can film be philosophy?'.

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of both a number of issues in philosophy, and the way that the medium in which philosophy is done is potentially a constraint on or a complement to the aims of the philosophy. The module will enable students to evaluate issues, both timely and timeless, in a manner that's informed by an interdisciplinary approach to philosophy.

Read more
30

This module will introduce students to philosophical theories of causality and philosophical theories of probability. The module will provide a broad background to the range of available interpretations of causality and probability. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies on causality and probability. The module will enable students to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30

Emotions figure in many areas of public life, and a number of pressing political issues (from fear in the evaluation of biomedical promises, to compassion in the criminal courtroom) invite us to think about the role of emotion in shaping citizens' political thought and activity. Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied conceptually, with the result that both political theory and practice are often left at a loss. Through lectures and seminar discussion, this module will offer the opportunity for students to engage in close analysis of the philosophy and cognitive science of emotion, as well as the ethical concerns that are raised by the role emotions can play in political activity and institutional practice.

This module will study prominent theories of emotion, asking about the connection between emotion, reason, and well-being. These aspects take a philosophical approach, but are also informed by advances in neurobiology and cognitive science. The module will also explore the public stage, asking how specific emotions figure in political questions: for example, fear, disgust, compassion, blame, empathy, boredom, and revenge. Political topics considered may include risky technologies, wrongful legal conviction, capital punishment, the Citizens' Income, and assisted dying. The role of emotion in media politics and protest movements will also be examined, assessing, for example, how compassion can be manufactured and mediated through political rhetoric, social media, social privilege, and popular fiction.

Read more
30
You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Year abroad

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally. You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

You can apply to add a year abroad to your degree programme from your arrival at Kent until the autumn term of your second year. The year abroad takes place between Stages 2 and 3 at one of our partner universities. Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme. For a full list, please see Go Abroad.

You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the year abroad.  The year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and does not count towards your final degree classification.

Stage 3

Modules may include Credits

Emotions figure in many areas of public life, and a number of pressing political issues (from fear in the evaluation of biomedical promises, to compassion in the criminal courtroom) invite us to think about the role of emotion in shaping citizens' political thought and activity. Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied conceptually, with the result that both political theory and practice are often left at a loss. Through lectures and seminar discussion, this module will offer the opportunity for students to engage in close analysis of the philosophy and cognitive science of emotion, as well as the ethical concerns that are raised by the role emotions can play in political activity and institutional practice.

This module will study prominent theories of emotion, asking about the connection between emotion, reason, and well-being. These aspects take a philosophical approach, but are also informed by advances in neurobiology and cognitive science. The module will also explore the public stage, asking how specific emotions figure in political questions: for example, fear, disgust, compassion, blame, empathy, boredom, and revenge. Political topics considered may include risky technologies, wrongful legal conviction, capital punishment, the Citizens' Income, and assisted dying. The role of emotion in media politics and protest movements will also be examined, assessing, for example, how compassion can be manufactured and mediated through political rhetoric, social media, social privilege, and popular fiction.

Read more
30

This module will introduce students to philosophical theories of causality and philosophical theories of probability. The module will provide a broad background to the range of available interpretations of causality and probability. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies on causality and probability. The module will enable students to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30

The course will begin by looking at various philosophical problems, as presented in films. This will involve discussing a range of different philosophical topics, from different areas of philosophy. Film here is presented as a way into the philosophical discussion, which will be supplemented by appropriate primary and secondary texts. The course will then consider ways in which the medium of film itself presents philosophical problems.

Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Philosophical issues presented through film will include, but will not be restricted to, time travel, existentialism and Philosophy of art. Philosophical Issues concerning film will include, but will not be restricted to 'is film art?', 'what is film?' and 'can film be philosophy?'.

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of both a number of issues in philosophy, and the way that the medium in which philosophy is done is potentially a constraint on or a complement to the aims of the philosophy. The module will enable students to evaluate issues, both timely and timeless, in a manner that's informed by an interdisciplinary approach to philosophy.

Read more
30

This module will introduce students to classical as well as contemporary discussions in the intersection between politics, philosophy, and economics. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Topics which may be covered include Authoritarianism, Behavioural economics, Rational Choice Theory, Game Theory, Libertarianism and Paternalism, Markets and Trade, Private Property and the Legitimacy of Organ Sale.

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies contained in politics, philosophy, and economics, and enable them to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30

Many people today are reluctant to identify themselves as 'feminist': either because they see feminism as a useful political movement that has essentially served its purposes; or because they view feminism as a 'single-issue', militant ideology that they cannot identify with. This module is intended to give students an opportunity to reflect philosophically on what claims like this could mean: if we live in a post-feminist era, why do women earn, on average, two thirds of what their male counterparts earn? If we live in post-feminist era, why are women still under-represented in many fields (including politics, science and academic philosophy?). If feminism is a 'single-issue' ideology, why is it that feminists have proposed such a variety of solutions to the above problems, and from such a wide range of political standpoints?

The module explores some key debates in contemporary feminist philosophy, with particularly emphasis on its uncomfortable relationship with liberalism. The course draws attention to feminist critiques of key liberal concepts, such as consent, the social contract, autonomy, universal rights, and the private/public distinction. We go on to apply theoretical debates in feminist thought to the following political issues: prostitution, pornography, feminine appearance, multiculturalism, and human rights.

Read more
30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of approaches in what is often referred to as "normative ethics". We face and hear about moral problems every day. These problems range from life and death matters concerning abortion, euthanasia and the like to other types of case such as whether to tell a lie to prevent hurting someone's feelings. At some point we might wonder whether there is a set of rules or principles (such as 'Do not lie') which will help us through these tricky problems; we might wonder whether there is something more simple underlying all of this 'ethical mess' that we can discern.

Normative ethics contains a number of theories that attempt to give us such principles and to sort out the mess. In particular, different normative ethical theories are attempts to articulate reasons why a certain course of action is ethically best; they are attempts to say what types of feature we should concentrate on when thinking about ethical problems and why it is that such features are features which have 'intrinsic moral significance'. Of course, ethical theories do not exist in a vacuum. As we shall see, our everyday intuitions about what is morally best are both the origin of normative ethical theories and the origin of thoughts raised against them. In all of this, the course will be examining these theories by starting with their historical roots, particularly focussing on the work of J. S. Mill, Immanuel Kant and Aristotle.

Read more
30

The curriculum will typically be focused on an important classic or recent philosophical work. In addition, students will typically be expected to read critical responses and commentaries. Alternatively, a convenor may choose a small number of texts on a unified and important theme.

Exactly what the curriculum will be will different from year to year. The point of this module is to offer students the chance to study a single text (or small number of texts) in a very focussed manner, and to introduce more variety into the curriculum. Things are left open so that the text can be altered each year as appropriate and different lecturers are given the chance to teach a different text.

Although not set in stone, typically this module will focus on more recent philosophy (i.e. from the 20th and 21st century). The outline given to students will change from year to year depending on the text studied.

For 2016-17:

Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher of the 20th century. He believed that good philosophy requires awareness of the radical limitations of human existence, especially of our constant background anxiety and our mortality. He was not a nice analytic philosopher writing abstract texts on relatively innocent technical topics, but a clever and nasty man, who struggled with his inner demons and succumbed to the temptations of his dark age (which is also our age). In these lectures I will discuss the views that Heidegger developed on art and poetry in the 1930s, for example in his essay on the Origin of the Work of Art and his essay "Why Poets?". His views on art and poetry were not simply contributions to 'aesthetics', 'art history' or 'literature theory', but attempts to show the immense importance of art and poetry to philosophy itself. Unlike most people, he did not consider art and poetry to be 'cultural products', but defining features of the human predicament in the world. He claimed that poetry is the essence of language, language is the house of Being, and Being is the happening of truth. Do you want to know what all this means? Come to the dark side.

Read more
30

Is it right that the talented profit from their (undeserved) talents? Should the government provide compensation for people who find it hard to meet that special someone? Should we think our duties to our compatriots are more important than our duties to people in other countries?

This course is divided into two parts. The first part examines classic topics in political philosophy, such as Rawls Theory of Justice, Nozick's libertarianism and the feminist and communitarian criticism of political liberalism. The second part of the course will explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as equality, our obligations to those in the developing world, and the politics of immigration. We will consider whether we can make sense of political obligation between states as well as within states. We will look at these issues in the context of particular recent case studies.

Read more
30

The curriculum will typically be focused on an important classic or recent philosophical work. In addition, students will typically be expected to read critical commentaries. (Alternatively, a convenor may choose a small number of classic texts on a unified and important theme).

Exactly what the curriculum will be will differ from year to year. The point of introducing this module, and the sister module Philosophical Texts 2: Normative Ethics (PL626/627), is to offer students the chance to study a single text (or small number of texts) in a very focussed manner, and to introduce more variety into the curriculum. Things are left open so that the text can be altered each year as appropriate and so that different lecturers are given the chance to teach a different text.

Read more
30

How does truth relate to existence? This module looks at the connection between truths and the things that make them true. We consider questions relating to the connection between truth and ontology (or existence) concerning time, persistence, possibility, generality, composition, and causation. We will look at how these issues are discussed in contemporary analytic metaphysics. We will explore both what solutions looking at the connections between truth and ontology might offer, whether this approach to the problems is useful, and how best to communicate the problems we discuss.

Read more
30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of philosophical issues arising from medical research and medical practice. Students will consider attempts to define the following terms – health, illness, and disease – and discuss what rests on their definition. Much medical practice proceeds as though medicine were a natural science. This module will probe the limitations of this conception. The placebo effect demonstrates the powerful influence of suggestion on the body and students will consider its relevance to philosophical ideas of the mind-body relation. Finally, students will consider ethical issues arising in medical practice, such as 'medically assisted death'.

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30

The module will enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding of Wittgenstein's approach to philosophy, and to acquire familiarity with major themes especially in the areas of epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. The module will give students practice in deploying their critical philosophical skills.

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30

Groups of marks or bursts of sound are just physical entities but, when produced by a writer or a speaker, they are used to point beyond themselves. This is the property of aboutness or intentionality. Other physical entities generally do not have this property. When you hear a sentence, you hear a burst of sound, but typically you also understand a meaning conveyed by the speaker. What is the meaning of a word – some weird entity that floats alongside the word, a set of rules associating the word with objects, an intention in the mind of the speaker….? What is the difference between what your words imply and what you convey in saying them? How are words used non-literally, how do hearers catch on to the meaning of a newly minted metaphor? How can we mean and convey so much when uttering a concise sentence? When someone says something offensive, is it part of its meaning that it is offensive, or just how it is used? In this module we shall try to find some answers to the questions listed above.

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30

The aim of this course is to engage in the study of specific topics in the philosophy of mind, language, or action and to engage with the criticism of contemporary approaches as it is found in the works of Wittgenstein, Ryle, Anscombe, and/or Austin.

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30

Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct reasoning from incorrect reasoning and, as such, it is a crucial component of any philosophy course. Moreover, logic has applications other than the testing of arguments for cogency: it is also a widely used and useful tool for clarifying the problematic concepts that have traditionally troubled philosophers, e.g., deductive consequence, rational degree of belief, knowledge, necessary truth, identity, etc. Indeed, much contemporary philosophy cannot be understood without a working knowledge of logic. Given this, logic is an important subject for philosophy students to master.

The module will primarily cover propositional and predicate logic. Regarding propositional and predicate logic, the focus will be on methods for testing the validity of an argument. These methods will allow students to distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning. The module will also cover inductive and modal logics. Regarding inductive and modal logics, the focus will be on clarifying epistemological concepts through the use of these logics.

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30

The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. An indicative list of topics is: The Turing test; the Chinese Room argument; the frame problem; connectionism; extended and embodied cognition; artificial consciousness. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

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30

This module provides an introduction to some of the major works in ancient Greek philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. The emphasis throughout will be on the philosophical significance of the ideas studied. The module will concentrate on understanding key philosophical arguments and concepts within the context of the ancient Greek intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how Greek philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.

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30

This module aims to provide students with a critical review of China’s hegemonic role in pre-modern East Asia and its political development since the 1840s when it was forced to open up to the outside world and to lay a solid foundation for even more detailed study of present-day China.

It deals with a recurrent theme in the study of Chinese politics, that is, how successive Chinese leaderships since the 1840s have reconciled Chinese indigenous political culture with models of modernisations that originated in the West. Focus is on how indigenous and foreign models for state-building and political development have guided Chinese thinking about national rejuvenation and modernisation.

This module assumes no prior knowledge of Chinese history or politics, and introduces students to the defining features of the Chinese traditional political system, including: Confucianism and Legalism, the causes of the demise of imperial China in 1911, the abortive attempts of republicanism and constitutionalism between 1912 and 1949, the rise of communism, and major political events since 1949 as well as its recent ascendancy.

Questions to be explored in this module include: Why did the Chinese imperial system fail to meet the challenges and encroachment from the West and Japan? How did Chinese leaders understand ‘modernisation’? Why did Chinese political elites embrace communism? What have been the impacts of revolutions on China’s external behaviour and relations, post-1949? How has China’s worldview been ‘socially constructed’ in its interactions with Western powers? What is China’s grand strategy for development in the early 21st century?

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15

The module will begin with an introduction to biographical narrative as a method in political science and to 'leadership' as a concept. Following this introduction, the module will present three ‘icons’ of 20th/21st Century world politics in three blocks of three weeks each, leaving one week for a concluding and comparative discussion (and one reading week). Throughout the module, the three themes of the title – resistance, suffering (sacrifice) and leadership – will be highlighted and will serve as a focus as the module considers the lives of Gandhi, Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi and their impact on world politics. Considering the lives of these iconic figures will allow us to discuss a number of important question, e.g. how they, as individuals, made choices that led them to occupy such prominent roles, how they understood themselves and how that self-understanding evolved over time, how the historical context provided them with opportunities to exercise influence and mobilise mass movements, how resistance and suffering enhanced their leadership roles, and how they used the influence they gained. While political science often studies political reality from an aggregate point of view, incorporating large numbers of observations through quantitative analyses, PO659 endeavours to explore general patterns in political reality through the unique experiences of three individuals and their journey to political stardom. We will also be able to take a critical look at how Western culture and politics often appropriate prominent individuals as representatives of liberal values without paying attention to the complexities of the relevant local contexts, customs and traditions.

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15

The course provides an overview of the broad field of international conflict analysis and resolution. Students have the opportunity to explore the motivations driving different forms of conflict, including interpersonal, group and civil violence. Students will also be exposed to a range of theories and approaches used to understand violent conflict, and a number of different methods of conflict resolution (e.g. negotiation, mediation, peacekeeping operations, and transitional justice.) The approach is interdisciplinary and juxtaposes traditional approaches used to study conflict management with new scientific studies of conflict and cooperation.

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15

This course will provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the recent political history of Northern Ireland. The course will be accessible to all students, whether they are new to the topic or not. The main objective of the course is to provide students with a greater understanding of one of the most complex regions within the United Kingdom. Students who take the course will learn about the central issues that underpinned community conflict, why sectarian conflict broke out in the region in the late 1960s, why it continued for so long, and what political dynamics led to the ‘peace process’ of the 1990s. In addition to looking at the conventional historical and political development of Northern Ireland, the course will also focus on wider aspects of the society such as representations in Irish poetry, music and sport, and the way in which these have mirrored political and cultural relationships within the region.

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15

This module introduces students to the complex set of questions surrounding religion in international politics. The module begins by exploring contending political and sociological understandings of religion at the turn of the 20th century. It looks, in particular, at the constructed nature of the categories of the ‘religious’ and the ‘secular’, and at the limits of the secularization thesis, which anticipated the privatization, decline and ultimately disappearance of religion in modernity. The discussion then turns to the relation between religion and secularism in Europe – with a focus on the question of European identity, multiculturalism, the relation between Europe and Islam and the numerous controversies surrounding Islam in Europe – and in the United States – with a focus on the concept of civil religion and the role of religious rhetoric and thinking in US foreign policy, particularly in the so-called ‘war on terror’. The module then explores the relation between religion and violence by looking at the role of the 16th and 17th wars of religion in the process of modern state formation and by asking whether there is a genuine connection between religion and violence. The concluding part of the module focuses on the emerging concept of the ‘postsecular’, its contending meanings, understandings and possible applications by focusing on the case of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

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15

The purpose of the module is to enable students to critically engage with the International Society (or “English School”) approach to International Relations. Combining political theory, IR theory, philosophy, sociology, and history this approach seeks to understand the theory and practice of international politics by reference to the historical development of relations between large scale political entities (from empires, hordes, kingdoms, to the modern nation-state and beyond) and the discourses that have emerged (Machiavellian, Grotian, Kantian) in response to the development of first European international society and eventually world society. The course focuses on the central features of international society - war and peace - as they have been conceived by the three traditions and members of the English School from Martin Wight to more contemporary figures.

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15

This course is intended to familiarise students with the conservative tradition in modern politics. This is achieved by reference to a range of key conservative thinkers selected to help students understand the diversity of the conservative tradition and consider what factors help to cohere it. Comparison within the tradition and across a variety of thinkers is achieved by examining these thinkers' views on four basic categories of modern politics, namely the state, the market, society and international relations. In order to meet these broad learning outcomes, essay questions will be designed in order to ensure that students have to compare different thinkers.

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15

This module provides an introduction to the various approaches to security studies by way of introducing key thinkers, the key literature. Its core aim is to provide a solid theoretical and conceptual grounding for students interested in the diversity of issues, institutions and actors engaged in the practice of international security.

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15

This module blends practical workplace experience, in the form of an internship in the area of politics and international relations, with taught workshops and private study. The internship will allow students to experience first-hand the practical application of their degree subject in the wider world of work, and will provide the opportunity to develop transferable skills such as teamwork, communication and self-organisation. The taught workshops will provide an opportunity to reflect upon, and develop, knowledge of the sector and its relationship with the academic field of study, using the student's internship experiences and a range of other resources. Students will also examine learning theory and consider the value of experiential learning experiences within Higher Education.

It will be the student's responsibility to source and apply for internship opportunities, but assistance will be provided both by the School's Employability, Alumni Manager, and the University's Careers and Employability Service. These opportunities should be in an organisation whose aims and activities are broadly related to politics and international relations, and the internship should reflect these activities and give the student the opportunity to work in a way which allows the module learning objectives to be achieved. Students on pre-approved School-administered internships will also be eligible to take this module.

The internship must consist of at least 60 hours of work, but this may be spread across a number of days / weeks and need not be a full-time position. The module convenor will approve of all internship opportunities prior to their commencement and students are advised to liaise closely with the module convenor and other appropriate staff in good time. Internships must finish by the date of the final seminar, and the School will provide all documentation and relevant insurance / health and safety checks to ensure that the placement meets both University and sector requirements and guidance on work-related learning opportunities. Students who fail to complete necessary paperwork relating to their internship and the module will be unable to proceed.

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15

One of the most striking developments in established Western democracies has been the electoral growth of extreme right and radical right-wing political parties. In this module students will investigate the nature and rise of extreme and radical right-wing parties, while also exploring other related issues such as right-wing extremist and racially-motivated violence and/or terrorism. This module will introduce students to the academic literature that has followed a resurgence of support for the extreme right. The module will familiarise students with conceptual and theoretical debates within this literature, and introduce students to some of the associated methodological debates. Students will be encouraged to think critically about concepts, classifications, ideologies, electoral behaviour and the broader implications of the rise of these parties and social movements in areas such as public policy and social cohesion.

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15

PO679 allows students to do independent, original research under supervision on a political science topic close to their specialist interests. The dissertation module gives them the opportunity to further these interests and acquire a wide range of study and research skills in the process. All dissertation topics have to be approved by the module convenor as well as by an academic supervisor. The module takes students through the entire process of writing a dissertation (8,000 words long): from the original 'problem' to a suitable research 'question', to choosing a method, to designing the research, to conducting the research; from taking notes to drafting the dissertation, to revising and writing the dissertation, and finally to submitting the dissertation. Lectures, supervision and a conference help students along the way. The curriculum includes structured opportunities for students to discuss their research ideas with each other as well as mock panel presentations in preparation for the student conference.

PLEASE NOTE: PO679 is worth 45 credits. If you wish to take PO679, please keep this in mind when choosing your other modules. PO679 is worth 15 credits in autumn term, and 30 in spring. The module is weighted more to the Spring term to enable you to dedicate the time needed to produce your dissertation.

As you can chose the equivalent of 4 x 15 credits in the autumn and 4 x 15 in the Spring, picking PO679 would look like this:

Autumn:

PO679

XX

XX

XX

Spring:

PO679

PO679

XX

XX

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45

This module prepares students both to think about the ways in which the landscapes are evolving and being shaped by contemporary developments in technical, scientific, and theoretical fields; and to think about how they want to take part in these developments in their own lives, through professional activity or further study. It will prepare students to think critically about the opportunities and dangers that come with the future, notably through the changes taking place in production techniques (through three-dimensional printing), ecological change and planning, scientific advancements and their impact on the humanities and social sciences (such as quantum theory's challenge to historical studies). By building on bodies of work that have already discussed the potential impact of new technologies and scientific innovations on our understanding of the human, this module will demand intellectual reflection on the potential for change and transformation, with reference to past events and how transformation has occurred to this day. In additional, the module will provide practical guidance on how to think about the student’s own future, whether professionally or for further studies. It will guide students through the possibilities open to them, and give them practical skills to secure an interview and present themselves successfully.

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15

The module provides an overview of some of the core arguments and issues that arise within the context of debates on political resistance: moral justifications of resistance to political authority, the techniques of resistance employed in historical examples, the presuppositions underpinning these techniques, the tensions and difficulties that typically arise in any act of resistance. Starting with Socrates, sent to the Athenians to act as a 'gadfly', the module will look at selected historical examples of resistance, identify and analyse aims and methods, and review and discuss outcomes and consequences.

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15

This module will address the major milestones in the politics and international relations of East Asia since 1945.The significance for East Asian countries of events such as the Korean War, the Cultural Revolution, the economic take-off of both Japan and South Korea, China's economic reforms, the end of the Cold War, and US changing policies towards East Asia will be analysed.

A central theme of the module will be the nexus between domestic factors and international behaviour – hence the internal political cultures and national identities of China, South Korea and Japan will be studied in relation to their particular world-views and their foreign policy initiatives. Each of these countries’ domestic political systems will also be analysed to enhance understanding of the impetus for policy making decisions both domestically and internationally. Analysis will also be made of how the imperative to achieve economic development influences political decision making. Finally, an assessment will be made as to the future of East Asia.

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15

In this course, we shall examine the primary development and security issues that affect the major states and their populations in the Asia-Pacific.

It will start with an overview of International Relations theories and their applications to the study of a non-Western region, and an exploration of whether non-Western International Relations theories will be a better alternative to Western theories in understanding the development and security challenges in the Asia-Pacific.

Following on that, key development and security issues and key actors and their mutual interactions will be discussed in detail. The main development and security issues include: national identity, national sovereignty, nationalism, irredentism, territorial disputes, arms proliferation, regionalism, regional security architecture, and economic interdependence and trade. The main actors are: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia, China, Japan, two Koreas, Russia, Taiwan, and the US.

Finally, it will engage with the debate as to whether the influence and authority of the US, the incumbent hegemon in the Asia-Pacific region, are in decline and its preeminent role will soon be replaced by a rising China, and whether great-power confrontation is inevitable. It will also explore what the resultant regional order would likely be.

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15

Connections is an innovative module that aims to provide a 'diagnosis of the present' informed by an interdisciplinary variety of approaches such as historical narratives, life writings (auto-biography), literature, photography and data analysis. A key question to be discussed is: what are the themes and issues that define our contemporary era, and how are they connected and impact on each other? In previous years, the module explored issues of class, peace(-keeping) and violence, borders and imagination, exile, media and democracy, and others. The module further aims to make connections with current events as they are unfolding, and depending on circumstances may include sessions on topics of particular relevance at the time that the module is being taught.

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30

This module explores the origins, evolution and role of international organisations in world politics. The aim is to understand how these institutions have developed, why states choose, refuse and fail to use these institutions as a means to achieve their objectives, and to what extent international organisations can promote international cooperation. The module takes the United Nations system as its central focus, but will also consider historical forms of international organisation as well as the processes of global governance. International organisations are involved in a wide variety of issues in contemporary international politics. This module will survey a selection of them, exploring the political differences and questions that arise in international responses to these issues.

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15

This module examines the complex relationship between foreign policy analysis and foreign policy practice. It does so by exploring shifting approaches to making and examing foreign policy, including the contributions of IR theory to Foreign Policy Analysis. Historical antecedents of foreign policy as a practice are examined via observations of traditional bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, followed by traditional state-based actors, non-state actors, and the nature of the structure they inhabit. FP decision-making is then examined, followed by the process of foreign policy implementation. The issue of motivation is tackled through analyses of the largely domestic impact of culture, interests and identity and broader effect of intra-state norms, ethics, the issue of human rights. Case studies of key countries reinforce the practical implications of above-mentioned issues throughout the module.

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15

We examine the main challenges facing post-communist Russia and in particular assess the development of democracy. We discuss the main institutions and political processes: the presidency, parliament, federalism, elections, party development and foreign policy, as well as discuss Yeltin’s, Putin’s and Medvedev's leadership. We end with a broader evaluation of issues like the relationship of markets to democracy, civil society and its discontents, nationalism, political culture and democracy and Russia's place in the world.

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15

In western countries feminism has had a considerable impact on the conduct of practical politics. The purpose of this module is to consider the ways in which feminist thought has influenced political theory. Returning to some of the earliest feminist critiques of modern politics by Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill, we examine a range of feminist approaches to politics, asking what unifies them and where and why they diverge from one another. Throughout, we ask how meaningful it is to speak of feminism in the singular: given the immense variety displayed by feminist thinking, should we talk about feminisms? Another guiding question will be the extent to which these approaches pose a fundamental challenge to traditional political theory. Can feminist theories of politics just 'add women and stir'? Or do feminist approaches compel us to new or different methodologies, conceptual tools and even definitions of politics?

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15

This module aims to provide students with a critical review of China's political development in the 20th and early 21st centuries. After a brief overview of China's political history since 1949, it is designed around two core blocks of study.

The first block looks at the principal political institutions that include the Communist Party, the government (the State Council), the legislature (the National People's Congress) and the military (the People's Liberation Army).

The second block examines the socio-political issues and challenges facing the country in its ongoing development. They range from the prospects of democratisation and the growth of civil society, the issue of quality of life in the areas of the environment and public health, corruption, nationalism and ethnic minorities, national reunification, territorial disputes with neighbouring countries to China's engagement with global governance.

A major theme of the module is to address why the Chinese communist regime is more durable and resilient than other non-democratic countries in achieving both economic growth and political stability and acquiring international influence, despite the fact that it faces numerous mounting development and governance challenges.

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15

This module places the contemporary developments in European security integration within a historical context while focusing on institutional formation and the role of nation-states with the view to highlight continuities and changes constituted in the new Security Architecture. The module locates (Western) Europe’s place in international security vis-à-vis other actors including the United States and emerging powers in order to determine what type of security identity Europe has carved for itself in the post-War period. The module further considers the implications of cooperation for Europe’s ability to respond to external New Security Challenges.

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15

The decision by a majority of the British electorate who voted on Thursday 23rd June 2016 to leave the EU sent shockwaves throughout Europe and the world and created a political earthquake within the UK's political system. Focusing on the European level, as this module does, the result of the referendum plunged the EU into its most serious existential crisis as, for the first time, a member state has signalled its desire to exit. According to Marine Le Pen, leader of France's Front National, the Brexit vote was 'by far the most important political event taking place in our continent since the fall of the Berlin Wall'. The reverberations of this decision will be felt for many years to come and affect an EU experiencing what some commentators have termed a 'polycrisis’ since the Euro-crisis erupted in Greece six years ago. As well as bailing out Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus and the economic fall-out from the global financial crisis of 2008-9, the EU has also witnessed the worst refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War, terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels and heightened tension with Putin’s Russia over the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. The EU has never been under such pressure and its resilience so tested. The purpose of this module in this context is thus two-fold. First, we learn and understand how the EU has reached where it is today, how its political system works, its strengths and weaknesses and how it is driven both the politics and economics of its member states and the global system. At the same time, we analyse the process of Brexit, how it will be managed by the UK and the EU27 and its implications for the future of the EU. There has certainly never been a more challenging or interesting time to learn about the EU!

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15

Since 2009, the European Union (EU) has been grappling with a crisis in the Eurozone, a refugee crisis, terrorist attacks in France and Belgium, the rise of challenger parties and heightened tension with Putin's Russia. This has led to increased questioning of the purpose and trajectory of European integration and policy-making. The Brexit decision by the UK electorate in June 2016 plunged the EU further into crisis, sending shockwaves throughout the world as for the very first time an EU member state chose exit over voice or loyalty. Membership of the EU is now clearly contingent and the reverberations of this decision will affect both the EU and the UK for many years to come. The focus of this module is on assessing the capacity of the EU as a system of public policy-making as it faces these myriad challenges. In so doing we endeavour to understand how the EU’s system of governance works and how it is driven by both the politics and economics of its member states and the global system. This module focuses on the EU’s 'outputs’ in terms of public policy in this context, with particular attention paid to the fields of market regulation, monetary union, environmental policy, agriculture policy, regional policy, justice and home affairs, foreign policy and trade policy. As well as analysing the effectiveness of EU policy-making in these policy areas, we also evaluate the impact of Brexit on their operation, as well as the process of Brexit itself, how it is being managed by the UK and the EU27 and its implications for the future of the EU.

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15

Much recent academic and popular commentary has focused on citizens’ supposed mistrust of government, especially in the United States of America. The central aim of the Politics of Trust is to uncover the reasons for Americans’ malaise. However, students will also examine other western democracies where trust has fallen to see if these countries’ experiences can inform our understanding of the US case specifically and the politics of trust more generally. The course begins with a history of trust in America, with an overview of the putative reasons for declining trust in the post-World War II period, with an examination of the experiences of other western democracies. The second part turns to the specific explanations for declining trust as posited by academics and political commentators. Explanations include the crisis of government performance, spin, the internecine warfare between Republicans and Democrats, the changing nature of the modern labour market, declining social capital, and the media.

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15

PO617 offers a comprehensive introduction to the politics and national government of the United States. It introduces students to the ‘foundations’ of the US political system, examining the history of the republic, its economy and society, the values and beliefs American people subscribe to, and the basic structure of the political system. We will also examine those ‘intermediate’ institutions (interest groups, parties, elections and the media) that link people to their government, and the three key institutions of the federal government: the Congress, Presidency and Supreme Court. Lastly, we focus on the policymaking process in the US. We will look at economic policy, civil rights and liberties and foreign policy, ask how and why policy is made as it is, and examine the extent to which the policy solutions produced by the political system are optimal.

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30

The module examines the politics of transition and change in post-communist countries in their effort to establish new democratic regimes and find their place in the world. The module consists of three main parts.

Part I focuses on the experience and nature of communist rule, to develop basic understanding of communism as an ideal, political system, and a life style. Part II looks at transitions, examining regional patterns of change and relating them to the 3rd and 4th waves (coloured revolutions) of democratisation globally. Part III discusses the issues of post-communist politics in Europe, by way of exploring the forms and quality of democracy in the new states, considering the effect of EU enlargements on the new Member States and the EU neighbours; and discussing the future of communism in the world.

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15

This module provides an introduction to some of the major developments in Western political thought by discussing the work and impact of key figures such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Rousseau, Kant, Wollstonecraft, Mill, Marx, and Nietzsche. Focusing on reading the primary works of these thinkers, putting them in their historical context, and understanding their reception in contemporary scholarship, this module addresses the overall problems which ‘modernity’ poses for political theory in Western societies.

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15

This module introduces students into the study of terrorism and political violence, and thereafter deepens their knowledge of the controversial aspects of this subject. The initial lectures will deal with definitional problems involved in the concept of "terrorism" and various theories about the causes of political violence in its different forms. With a point of departure in a chronological review tracing the origins of the phenomenon long back in history, the module will later study the emergence of political terrorism during the second half of the 19th century. This will be followed by a study of state and dissident terrorism in different parts of the world. The module will also address the relationship between religious radicalism and different forms of political violence, including "new terrorism" and possible use of weapons of mass destruction. Then, the focus of attention will be shifted to implications of various counter-terrorism strategies and "The War on Terrorism" for democracy and human rights. These issues will be addressed with a special focus on methodological problems involved in the study of terrorism and political violence.

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15

This module introduces students into the study of the Middle East as a region and an arena of international conflict. Against the background of a historical review of the developments in the 20th century, the module will focus on the colonial past of the region, the imperial legacy, the emergence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the origins of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the impact of sub-state loyalties – i.e. factors which have shaped the Middle East as a region and as a security complex. In this context, the students will explore the ideological developments in the region, most important among them, the rise and fall of Arab nationalism, the emergence of Islamic radicalism and the consolidation of the Israeli right. Adopting an international relations perspective, the module will also cover the impact of outside state actors, such as USA, Russia and the EU on the Middle East as a whole and on the relationships among those states that compose this region. Finally, the students will study the debate about "Orientalism" and the problematic aspects of the Western academic study of the Middle East and the Islamic world. These issues will be addressed with a special focus on the problem of bias involved in the academic study of the Middle East.

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15

This module offers a comprehensive study of US foreign policy since 1945. Ranging from ‘containment’, ‘democratic enlargement’, and ‘the war on terror’ the module introduces students to the concept of ‘grand strategy’ and the need to understand the broader intellectual platform and foundations of the way in which the United States engages with the world. A number of case studies are used to explore this such as the work of George Kennan, the Vietnam War, and the move towards ‘smart power’ under presidents Bush and Obama. In addition to this the course also explores questions on the social construction of state identity in the American national consciousness and how both the media and political elites help to shape public opinion and attitudes that relate to America’s ‘friends’, ‘allies’, and ‘enemies’. The course also explores the concept of ‘soft power’ as a method of extending American influence and power in the world and questions the idea of American decline.

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15

This module introduces students to central debates about the influence of different executive formats on democratic government. The course examines the differences between and within presidential, parliamentary and semi-presidential constitutions and examines their consequences for the quality of democracy and for policy outcomes. The course initially focuses on identifying the key institutions and processes that shape the behaviour and strategies of politicians in the executive, before moving on to consider the consequences of these for governance, policy-making and democratic stability. Throughout the central focus is on understanding the extent and the ways that formal political institutions may shape how politicians respond to citizen preferences, bargain with each other to resolve political conflict and choose policies. Students will be exposed to different ways of thinking about the impact of political institutions on politics, different ways of conceptualizing and measuring democratic performance and encouraged to think about how a broad range of other factors may interact with constitutional formats to shape outcomes. The approach used will be broadly comparative and will use case-specific and cross-national evidence from both developed and less developed democracies in all regions of the world.

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15

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.

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15

This module explores the linkages between mediation theory and the practice of conflict resolution in deeply divided societies. Topics include the theory and practice of negotiations, conflict escalation and peace mediations while specific emphasis will be given to the role of regional or international institutions in early conflict prevention. The module applies negotiation theory in the study of state disintegration, demographic and environmental conflict, property rights, federal management and transitional justice. The course engages with the core literature in negotiation theory and exposes students to a number of simulations aiming to improve negotiation skills (identifying best alternatives, revealing or not preferences, identifying win-win arrangements, defeating spoilers and exercising veto rights). Because of the practical skills taught in the module and the interactive nature of in-class simulations, students are expected to attend lectures and tutorials. Finally, the course examines the role of citizens and community organizations in peace mediations focusing on a number of selected case studies from deeply divided societies specifically Israel/Palestine, the former Yugoslavia, South Africa, Greece/Turkey (including Cyprus & the Kurdish issue), Rwanda and Northern Ireland.

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15

Democracy rests on the will of citizens. But how can we identify this ‘will’? Elections are one method; but more regular expressions of citizen views are possible via opinion polls. Indeed, a range of public and private bodies routinely use polls to identify popular attitudes. But what are the ‘opinions’ supposedly revealed by these polls, how do surveys go about identifying opinions and how valid are their results?

This module introduces students to the theory and practice of public opinion and its measurement. The module focuses on two main questions. First, what is public opinion? How far do people’s attitudes pre-exist and how far are they instead ‘shaped’ by the way questions are asked? Are attitudes informed and considered, or are they largely knee-jerk responses based on little information? If, in fact, citizens know little about politics, are there ways in which they can, nonetheless, form meaningful views on important public issues? The answers to these questions are central to the task of assessing the proper role of public opinion in modern democracies. The second question asks how public opinion is measured. What are the main features of social surveys, and how well do they measure public attitudes? This section of the module pays particular attention to the ways that different types of survey can affect the responses that people give, and to the principles and practices of effective survey design.

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This module aims to investigate the different roles and experiences of human beings at and in war. Following an introduction to issues regarding agency (How do people act in the social world? How much freedom do they have? What impact can their actions have?), the course will examine the roles of combatants (both state and non-state), civilians (men, women and children), and third parties (peacekeepers, humanitarian workers, journalists, and academics). The module will draw on academic literature, but also written, oral and video testimony and artwork to examine these categories first as a social group (examining questions such as age brackets, income brackets, education, life expectancy), then in terms of their political functions and roles, and finally in an attempt to access some degree of experiential knowledge of war and peace. Due to the sensitive nature of the material examined, the module will not be using lecture capture.

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Teaching and assessment

Philosophy

Teaching is by lectures, seminars, class discussions, and individual and group research, which is discussed in class.

All modules are assessed by 100% coursework (essays, in-class assignments, seminar participation) throughout the year.

Politics and International Relations

Our main teaching methods are lectures, seminars, working groups, PC laboratory sessions and individual discussions with your academic adviser or module teachers. Assessment is through continuous feedback, written examinations, assessed essays and oral presentations.

Politics Open Forum

We hold a weekly extra-curricular Open Forum organised by our School research groups, where students and staff have the opportunity to discuss and debate key issues of the day that affect higher education and politics in the world today.

Programme aims

For programme aims and learning outcomes please see the programmes specification for each subject below. Please note that outcomes depend on your specific module selection:

Careers

Politics

You gain much more than an academic qualification when you graduate from the School of Politics & International Relations. From the moment you begin your studies with us, our efforts are focused on helping you gain the knowledge, skills and experience you need to thrive in an increasingly competitive workplace. 

Recent graduates have gone into areas such as:

  • local and central government
  • the diplomatic service
  • EU administration
  • financial services
  • non-governmental organisations
  • journalism
  • international business or organisations.

Our degrees provide you not only with specific subject training but also with key transferable skills. The School has a dedicated Employability Officer to help and support you in finding a suitable career and making the most of the skills you have developed through your degree.

Philosophy

The Philosophy Department at Kent takes employability seriously, and all of our modules are designed to give you important skills that transfer to the workplace. 

Recent graduates have gone into areas such as:

  • teaching
  • publishing
  • journalism
  • media
  • marketing
  • the civil service
  • the legal profession.

Our modules not only improve your grasp of philosophy, but also teach you how to critically evaluate ideas, think through problems and clearly communicate even complex material. We offer opportunities to discuss and defend your ideas, to give oral presentations, to work both individually and as part of a group, all of which equips you with useful instruments for your future careers, whatever they may be.

Independent rankings

For graduate prospects, Philosophy at Kent was ranked 8th in The Times Good University Guide 2018. Of Philosophy students who graduated from Kent in 2016, over 97% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

For graduate prospects, Politics at Kent was ranked 3rd in The Guardian University Guide 2018 and 7th in The Complete University Guide 2018. Of Politics students who graduated in 2016, 94% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level

ABB

Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 16 points at HL

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £15700
Part-time £4625 £7850

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Fees for Year in Industry

For 2019/20 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,385

Fees for Year Abroad

UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2019/20 academic year pay £1,385 for that year. 

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.

Full-time

Part-time

The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.