Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts - BA (Hons)

Overview

Do you want to understand the world from a political, cultural, historical and economic perspective? Study Liberal Arts at Kent to examine how different disciplines interact, explore the forces and events shaping contemporary society, and learn a new language or improve your language skills.

Liberal Arts is a truly interdisciplinary degree. It develops your understanding of humanities subjects such as culture, history and politics, while enabling you to discuss key scientific controversies. This broad knowledge helps you to succeed professionally in the 21st century.

While the programme is run by the School of Politics and International Relations, you are taught by academics from across all three faculties at Kent. You receive high-quality teaching informed by cutting-edge research on a range of political, social, economic and cultural issues.

Our degree programme

At the heart of our Liberal Arts degree is a core set of modules that enable you to analyse and understand how and why we think, and act, the way we do. Through collective discussion and debate around seminal readings, you get a grasp of the full field of social sciences, physical sciences, arts and humanities. 

In the first year and second years, you take a combination of compulsory modules and optional modules to suit your interests and career plans. Study a broad range of subjects such as contemporary culture and society, modes of reasoning, and how technology and the economy shapes human cultures. 

Your final year of study includes a dissertation module, where you focus on a topic related to your year abroad or on a research question of your choosing. You also take a compulsory module that develops your critical thinking skills and choose four optional modules, with approval from your tutor, from across the University.

Liberal Arts student Judith talks about her course at Kent.

Year abroad

You have the option take this as a 4 year course with an additional year spent studying abroad. See Liberal Arts with a Year Abroad.

Study resources

Facilities and resources to support the study of Liberal Arts include:

  • access to the European Documentation Centre
  • a dedicated Student Support Manager, who advises on issues related to academic study as well as wider University life
  • a Study Skills Officer, who provides subject-related guidance
  • the Academic Peer Mentoring scheme, where first-year students are matched with second- or third-year students on a similar programme.

Extra activities

At Kent, there are many student societies related to your studies, for example:

  • Current Affairs and Politics Society
  • Kent European Debates Society
  • Debating Society
  • Kent Model United Nations Society.

You are also encouraged to get involved in the programme of events and activities run by the School of Politics and International Relations, which focuses on bridging the gap between academic study and real-life politics. Our Public Speaker Programme features prominent academics and practitioners, who are invited to speak on current issues.

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. 

Please note that meeting this typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee an offer being made.Please also see our general entry requirements.

New GCSE grades

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

  • Certificate

    A level

    BBB

  • Certificate

    GCSE

    English Language grade B or 6

  • Certificate

    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.

  • Certificate

    BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

    Distinction, Distinction, Merit

  • Certificate

    International Baccalaureate

    34 points overall or 15 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. 

However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

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. 

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Course structure

Duration: 3 years full-time

The BA in Liberal Arts is composed of compulsory and optional modules. Your optional modules can be chosen from a wide range of subjects across the University in consultation with the Programme Director. This may include subjects offered by Anthropology, Classic and Ancient History, Comparative Literature, Criminology, Film studies, History, Philosophy, Politics or Sociology. Please get in touch with the School of Politics and International Relations to discuss the modules in more detail.

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

Stage 1

Compulsory modules currently include

One of the impediments to communication between different academic disciplines is their use of different ways of making and validating arguments and evidence. A key element of the Liberal Arts programme is developing a genuinely inter-disciplinary approach, enabling students to understand, appreciate, and assimilate the findings of diverse academic approaches. This module examines the varying modes of developing scientific, social scientific and humanities discourses to facilitate cross-disciplinary understanding of qualitative and quantitative reasoning. The course will be split into two halves. In the Autumn, students will be introduced to various debates and critical approaches to understanding what constitutes 'knowledge'. In the Spring term, students will be familiarised in lectures and readings with quantitative and qualitative methodologies as well as with associated processes of data presentation, validation and conclusion reaching. Seminars will serve both to discuss and assess approaches and to familiarise students with using these methods to undertake their own research.

Themes introduced here not only intertwine with teaching and practical exercises in the two concurrent first year core modules but also recur throughout the rest of the programme. The cross-disciplinary debates – and communications – opened in this module will be revisited, and nuanced, over the following three years.

The research project gives students the opportunity to integrate the methods of research and analysis learned during the module with a project of individually directed study, enabling both the development of talents for data collection, organisation and analysis and an opportunity, early in their academic careers, to create a substantive text of their own on a topic of their own choosing.

Find out more about PO331

The module asks students to think critically about their own period, and to analyse the forces and events shaping contemporary culture and society. Students will consider texts from a range of disciplines and will be introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. Although the focus of the module will be on the period since 2000, it will be necessary to reach back before that date to contextualise current issues. Students will be invited to think critically about the ways different disciplines are formulating representations of the contemporary period, and to discuss themes and ideas that cross disciplines, for instance, migration, environmental change, financial crisis, democratic agency, and new media. The module aims to develop multi-disciplinary understandings of the contemporary world and to encourage students to consider their role in shaping it.

Find out more about PO332

Optional modules may include

The module will discuss key issues, events, developments and trends that characterise today's global politics. The precise list of issues to be included will vary from year to year depending on the global political landscape and staff availability, but examples of issues that may be covered in a given year include climate change, globalisation, global dimensions of poverty and inequality, the global economy of waste, religion and global politics, global governance, global aspects of war and conflict, colonialism and imperialism, superpower politics and influence, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, international organisations, refugees and migration etc. The issues chosen will be studied from multiple perspectives, starting from a basic, empirical analysis and progressing towards conceptual and theoretical issues suitable to the module level. Lectures will be complemented by small groups seminars and workshops.

Find out more about PO334

The Politics Today module enables us to engage our first year students in debates on current political issues, typically on issues that dominate our newspapers and therefore are close to the students' own awareness and experience. However, in the introduction to the module we will also consider how such issues enter our awareness and why, and whether indeed 'relevance’ itself is a political construct. The module will be responsive to current world affairs, and therefore the precise selection of issues to be discussed may change from year to year. After a general introduction, 2-3 issues will be presented and analysed, typically by considering historical backgrounds, key political actors, configurations of interests, possible developments and outcomes. The module endeavours to help students appreciate and conceptualise the complexities of the modern world by discussing current national and/or world issues from diverse perspectives and angles. At the beginning of the course, students will also be given the opportunity to vote on issues of interest which are not already included in the curriculum. The issue with the most votes will then be added to the curriculum, and students will be involved in preparing the issue for discussion and analysis.

Find out more about PO336

What is political about politics? Can we think of political concepts that challenge the institutions of the state and politicians' politics? Are we free when left alone, or when we are all in control of our collective destiny? What would an equal society look like? What is justice and why do we think it is so important? Can democracy be reconciled with liberty? Can we imagine life without a state? Can we ever legitimately resist state power? Is community more important than individuality? Must we preserve all cultural traditions?

This module introduces you to a number of political concepts that are central to thinking about political life. Through these concepts you will be introduced to the principal ideas of many of the major figures in the history of Western political thought (for example, Plato, Hobbes, Rousseau and Marx) and to the work of many contemporary political theorists (John Rawls, Iris Marion Young, Richard Rorty, Susan Okin and others). In addition, lectures and seminars will familiarise you with a variety of different debates about how best to understand any given concept (such as, debates about the 'naturalness' or not of rights) as well as how to understand the relationship between different concepts (such as, whether a just society must be an equal one or not).

Moreover, the module is designed to allow you to develop a set of 'conceptual tools' with which to interrogate and shape the political world in which you find yourself; a world which is saturated everyday with competing articulations of the political concepts that we will study in this module. The module will familiarise you with the style of writing and argumentation specific to political theory, in a way that will develop your ability to construct and put forward successful arguments in the arena of competing political ideas. As such, it is hoped that you will come to develop a subtle appreciation of how the concepts examined on this module are, to greater or lesser degrees, intrinsic to all your studies in politics and international relations (and related subjects).

Find out more about PO314

This module provides an introduction to some of the key issues in the philosophy of law. All of the ideas discussed are linked by focusing on the notion of 'right'. Students will be exposed to a variety of questions and issues, such as: ‘What is a right?’, ‘Are there such things as natural rights?’, ‘Is there any absolute right?’, ‘What is involved in saying that one has a right to free speech or a right to private property?’, ‘Who has a right and why?’, ’Do future people have rights?’, ‘Do we have a right against social deprivation?’ and ‘Do children have a right to be loved?’.

Find out more about PL300

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.

Find out more about PL302

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.

Find out more about PL303

This module provides a general introduction to myth in the ancient world. Scholarship on approaches to mythology will inform the analysis of myth in its ancient setting. The curriculum will be designed to introduce students to a working repertoire of a large span of ancient (e.g. Greek) mythology and to its meanings and functions within its original context. A selection of case-study myths (represented in literature and/or iconography) will be used to examine the potential meanings and social functions of myth in general.

Find out more about CL366

The history will centre on Athens in the 5th century B.C. We begin with early Athens, then after considering the period of the Persian invasions, we study the developed democracy with its empire under Pericles and its destruction in the Peloponnesian War. After looking at the historical events of this period, we study a range of Greek literature. You will be introduced to the different literary genres of the time, including tragedy and comedy, and will be asked to consider the role of literature as a vehicle for public debate in the democracy, and its treatment of justice, religion, rationalism and patriotic themes.

Find out more about CL368

In this module, we shall begin by examining the history of the last century of the Roman republic. Our focus will be on how that republic fell and was replaced by the empire whose founder was Augustus. Among the themes examined will be political violence, the intrusion of the army into political life and the rise of the warlord. The second half of the module is concerned with the patronage of the arts (poetry, history writing, art and architecture) under Augustus, with the role of the arts as propaganda, and the thesis that writers were recruited to act as spokesmen for the policies and ideals of the principate. The central theme is the creation of enduring images of Rome and Empire, using traditional historical and mythological materials; alongside this, the module treats areas of public policy such as moral legislation, festivals, religious reform and the position of women. The module is also concerned with the responses of the writers, whether as supporters of public policy, or as commenting on and reacting against it. Thus, its content is much better understood as a result of the historical development outlined in the first part of term.

Find out more about CL369

The twentieth-century imagination was marked by a spirit of doubt, especially of the Enlightenment faith in reason's capacity to advance humankind to happiness and freedom. In this module will be discussed some classic fictional explorations of freedom and social, political, religious and racial oppression which have had an international impact. These texts will be read as works of literature in their own right as well as contextualised with the ideas they question and propagate: universal happiness, human liberation, and morality without God, personal and political freedom, the self and its responsibility.

Find out more about CP305

The 'knowledge of good and evil' is unique to human beings. It informs the individual’s conscience and determines the moral systems on which societies are based. The violation of moral codes is expected to induce the experience of guilt, while the lack of any sense of guilt is considered psychopathic. As the manifestation of an internal, and sometimes also external, struggle of varying intensity, guilt is an almost universal concern of literary texts; as is the quest for redemption, the alleviation of guilt and despair – through atonement, forgiveness or denial. In this module, we will analyse and discuss literary texts, which explore the frequently fuzzy edges of the experiences of guilt and redemption as a human quandary and as perceived against changing conceptions of morality. Texts included in the reading list engage with questions of personal and collective guilt incurred with hubris, cruelty, the violation of animal rights, and genocide, etc.

Find out more about CP306

This module introduces students to some of the most influential theories of World Literature, which are studied alongside a selection of literary examples. The theories include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's reflections formulated in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Goethe coined the term 'world literature' [Weltliteratur] to describe the international circulation and reception of literary works in Europe.

In the course of the module, we reflect on the relationship between national literatures and world literature, and on the ways in which the literary market facilitates and complicates transnational exchanges of ideas. In addition, students are given the opportunity to hone their close reading skills by studying a selection of ancient and modern world creation myths. These include texts from the Near East, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe. The module offers students the unique opportunity to analyse in detail different ways in which cultural backgrounds can shape literary productions, and how stories, motifs and themes travel across national boundaries. In the course of the module, we discuss key literary terms and concepts, including fictionality, literariness, translation, the canon, and the various modes of reception and circulation that shape our understanding of world literature.

Find out more about CP325

This module approaches the "big questions" that have surrounded film and the moving image and puts them into historical context. Although specific topics will vary, representative topics may address competing definitions of film and its constitutive elements, the effects that cinema has on spectators, the social, cultural and political implications that moving images reproduce, and the status of the medium between art and entertainment. Students will debate seminal writings on the nature of film and bring their arguments to bear on exemplary film productions.

Find out more about FI315

This course examines film history and historiography through a series of case studies. In carrying out this investigation students will be invited to work with secondary and primary sources held in the library and will be encouraged to evaluate the aesthetic, technological, economic, social and political histories presented in this module. Students will understand the role and value of the contextual study of film and will be given the opportunity to research and write on selected aspects of film historiography. The choice of case studies will depend upon the expertise of the module convenor and is not restricted to a particular national cinema or period; case studies may include, for instance, the history of film by means of the study of a particular theme and cultural context in the history of film.

Find out more about FI316

This module will provide a survey of the major events, themes and historiographical debates in early modern history from the Renaissance to religious wars of the early seventeenth century. This period in European history witnessed the cultural and social upheaval of the Reformation, the advent of print and the intellectual changes associated with Humanism, the formation of recognisably 'modern' nation states, and the beginnings of Europe's troubled engagement with the wider world.

Find out more about HI432

This module will provide a survey of the major events, themes and historiographical debates in early modern history from the religious wars of the first half of the seventeenth century to the dawn of modernity in the second half of the eighteenth century. This period in European history witnessed the development of a system of nation states in Europe, the rise of Absolutism, the development of new European powers in Eastern and Central Europe, an expansion of European influence in the Americas and Asia (leading to a greater commercialisation of European society), as well as the fundamental shifts in European intellectual culture associated with the Scientific Revolution, overseas expansion and the Enlightenment.

Find out more about HI433

Over the past 500 years, inventions such as telescopes, robots and fridges have revolutionised our relationships with one another and with the natural world. This module engages with some well-known inventions since the so-called 'scientific revolution' (c. 1600), alongside some unexpected and surprising ones. It examines their making and their use, and explores how they have contributed to the distinctively modern European perspective that has come to be known as ‘science’. This module approaches its topics from the perspectives of cultural and social history.

Find out more about HI434

Social Anthropology is a discipline which arose with other social sciences in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, social and cultural anthropology has made a speciality of studying 'other' peoples worlds and ways of life. With increasing frequency, however, anthropologists have turned towards 'home', using insights gained from studying other cultures to illuminate aspects of their own society. By studying people's lives both at 'home' and 'abroad', social and cultural anthropology attempt to both explain what may at first appear bizarre and alien about other peoples' ways of living whilst also questioning what goes without saying about our own society and beliefs. Or, to put it another way, social and cultural anthropology attempt, among other things, to challenge our ideas about what we take to be natural about 'human nature' and more generally force us to take a fresh look at what we take for granted.

Find out more about SE301

This module introduces students to the major figures, theories and approaches that have shaped Anthropology, both Sociocultural and Biological, over the past two centuries. It presents an historical outline of the major schools of thought and discusses the historical relationship between social, cultural and biological anthropology. It focuses on two major figures (Charles Darwin and Émile Durkheim) and on their theoretical legacies, namely the central notions of "evolution" and “structure” that dominated thinking on human sociality throughout the twentieth century.

Find out more about SE307

This module introduces students to discussions and debates surrounding modern culture. It looks at why culture has always been such a contested sphere and has a decisive impact on society at large. Students will look at culture in the widest sense, ranging from ‘the arts’ to the banalities of everyday life in our consumer society; at how culture has expressed and organised the way people think and live from the days of 'protestantism' to those of post-punk. Books, magazines, radio, TV, movies, cartoons, fashion, graffiti, the cult of celebrity, youth subcultures and pop music will be used to understand class, history, sexuality, colonialism, revolution, conflict and globalisation.

Find out more about SO334

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the ways sociologists attempt to document and explain the social experience of everyday life. Each week the category of 'social experience' is held up for analytical scrutiny in relation to a particular component of 'everyday life'. The course aims to illustrate the value of sociology for helping individuals to better understand the contents and conditions of their social experience of the world. It also aims to document the ways in which sociological theories and methods have developed in correspondence with the evolution of modern societies. The curriculum will include topics such as, The Social Experience of: Work; Memory; Childhood; Food; Stigma; Animals; Charity; and Taste.

Find out more about SO336

This module provides an introduction to the major issues and controversies surrounding the definition, development and teaching of ‘classical’ social theory. It introduces students to the key problems that have set the agendas for sociological inquiry as well as the main concepts and theoretical traditions that have shaped sociological thought. A considerable debate surrounds the meaning of ‘classical’ social theory and what should be associated with this term. For some, ‘classical’ social theory refers to ideas developed by a generation of thinkers whose works belong to a particular period of our cultural/intellectual history (usually dated c.1880- c.1920). Others understand this as a label for ‘canonical’ texts that define the project and enterprise of sociology. For many, it simply means the works of Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, Max Weber and Georg Simmel (the so-called ‘founding fathers’ of the discipline). Classical sociology has also been identified as a critical tradition of placing society in question so as individuals may be better equipped to understand how their personal troubles are the product of determining socio-economic structures and processes. Each of these approaches to understanding ‘classical’ social theory will be explored and analysed.

Find out more about SO408

This module provides a thematic introduction to selected topics and debates that span global philosophical, religious and cultural traditions. It will explore issues such as the nature of reality, of the self, and of goodness or value, the foundations of ethics and the ideal society, and the goals of life in a variety of worldviews. Cross-referencing cultural traditions with broader theoretical and philosophical debates, it seeks to provide a foundation for understanding key concepts and themes found within the world's traditions of philosophy and religion, and exploring their implications for fundamental debates about truth, society, psychology and the good life.

Find out more about TH350

Stage 2

Compulsory modules currently include

This module functions as a 'great books' module: students are expected to read a significant portion of a great book every week (averaging around fifty pages each week). These books will introduce students to important debates in a series of different fields in the humanities and social sciences, as well as key debates in the philosophy of science. While the content of the module will vary from year to year depending on guest lecturers, a balance will be struck to enable students to learn widely and develop a critical outlook on literary, social, political, economic, and epistemological works. Students will be encouraged to make connections between all of these areas of knowledge and critically evaluate the works of the authors read in their written work.

Find out more about PO685

Optional modules may include

PO686 explores the political biographies of three icons of 20th and 21st century politics: Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. All three have arguably changed the course of history not just in their home countries, and we will be studying how their lives brought them to the forefront of the historical struggles which they came to represent. In particular, we will be looking at how they came to make the personal commitment to engage in these struggles and how they came to accept and deal with the sacrifices that their involvement entailed. We will be particularly interested in the self-understanding of these figures as political actors. Did they intend or plan to have the impact they had? Or did political fame catch them by surprise? Did they understand themselves as political leaders, and if yes, what notions of leadership did they develop as part of their political struggles? How did they understand the resistance they offered to colonial oppression, racial discrimination and oppressive military regimes? What were the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of their resistance? What influenced them to offer this resistance? How did they reflect on their acts of resistance? What gave them the courage they needed in order to offer this resistance? And what were their methods? Were the means of their struggles appropriate for achieving their ends? What was the role of violence in these methods?

Apart from asking questions about their political lives and the impact these lives had on world history, we will also be able to ask more general questions about political reality itself: Can individuals really affect the course of national and world history? What enabled these figures to have such an impact? Personality? Charisma? Luck? Or were the circumstances such that anyone in similar positions could have provoked change? In fact, how did these figures relate to the world of politics? For example, was Gandhi a 'politician'? Did they have the impact they had because they stood in some sense ‘outside’ conventional politics? And also what does it say about us, about our political present, if we today revere these figures as icons of righteous resistance? Why is there a Nelson Mandela building on Campus? Why is his picture in the Rutherford Dining Hall? What is it that we admire in Mandela? And is the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi failed to live up to our expectations enough to justify her recent fall from grace? These are just some examples of the kinds of questions we will discuss in PO686.

Find out more about PO686

This module will address the politics and international relations of East Asia since 1945. We will analyse the causes and significance of events such as the Korean War, the Cultural Revolution, the economic take-off of both Japan and South Korea, China's economic reforms, democratisation and violence across the region, and the growing importance of populism and nationalism.

A central theme of the module will be uncovering the decisions that leaders take in order to hold onto power – from conflict to corruption, purges to propaganda – and how these decisions continue to influence the domestic and international politics of this vitally important region. We will explore differences in the countries’ domestic political systems and their economic and security considerations to shine a light on major historical and contemporary policies.

In seminars and their policy report, students will develop their own expertise on one East Asian country, in order to provide cutting-edge political analysis of the policy challenges that East Asian leaders face today.

Please note that this course covers a wide range of countries and time periods, so to succeed students will need to spend time engaging fully with the readings, lectures, and seminars. Students are expected to read at least two articles/chapters per week, and seminar grades will depend on having carried out these readings.

Find out more about PO683

The Asia-Pacific is one of the world's most economically and politically dynamic regions. But despite nuclear, territorial, and historical tensions, growing superpower competition, and cross-border threats from crime to the environment, the region has remained relatively peaceful and stable since 1945.

In this module we will begin by explore the puzzle of the region’s stability using approaches drawn from Western and non-Western international relations theories. We will then use these theories to help understand the causes of the region’s most pressing security and development concerns, analyse the likelihood that they will lead to instability and conflict, and evaluate policy measures that might resolve them. We will look at the risk of war over the Taiwan Straits, a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and historical grievances with Japan, before analysing regional solutions to cross-national security and economic challenges. The module will conclude by examining whether the region’s stability is likely to continue in the face of major shifts in the regional balance of power.

Please note that to succeed in this course students will need to spend time engaging fully with the readings, lectures, and seminars. Students are expected to read at least two articles/chapters per week, and seminar grades will depend on having carried out these readings.

Find out more about PO684

This course introduces students to the nature and purposes of descriptive and causal analysis in politics and international relations. Students will develop skills in choosing, using and evaluating different research designs and the techniques for the collection and analysis of data.

In addition to developing a conceptual and theoretical understanding of different approaches to evidence gathering and data analysis, students will also have the opportunity to extend their skills in practical data analysis. The course builds on their 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. Because of the focus in prior modules on quantitative research techniques this module pays particular attention to qualitative data and how it can be used alongside quantitative approaches. Emphasis will therefore be placed on a mixed-methods approach to political analysis that enables students to integrate, analyse and evaluate both qualitative and quantitative data. Students will notably practice skills in thinking about process tracing and how this method may allow for the identifcation of causal relationships.

The first part of the course will focus on general questions and problems in the empirical study of politics and international relations. Moodle quizzes will support the consolidation of knowledge of these issues. The second part will focus on the application of different research designs to understand specific examples of research. In this second part of the course students will be asked to read carefully an article employing a particular research design and method of data analysis in order to understand and develop a practical sense of how these research designs and methods are used to generate knowledge. These readings can become the basis of the critical evaluation that students are expected to develop in the first part of the coursework project.

Find out more about PO661

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.

Find out more about PO667

The curriculum 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 by the module convenors 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 at least two thinkers. The module is structured around lectures and seminars.

Find out more about PO669

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.

Find out more about PO681

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. 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.

Find out more about PO687

This module provides an overview of key theories, concepts and debates in the discipline of international relations: examples of such theories include liberalism, realism, international society approaches, Marxism, critical theory, post-structuralism and feminism. The theories will be introduced and evaluated in terms of their weaknesses and strengths. This will require some discussion of how theories contribute to the formation of knowledge and how they are to be 'tested' or evaluated.

Find out more about PO690

This module introduces ethnography and the ethnographic/documentary film as ways of understanding individual and social lives and the differences between cultures. The focus is critical and practical investigation of the research methods, production and communicative methods underlying them. Students will acquire both critical and practical training in these key ethnographic methodologies. The parallel histories of the development of ethnographic writing and visual anthropology will also be explored to facilitate integration between written and visual media. Indicative themes in the reading, analysis and practice of ethnography may include: (1) Critical and historical contextualisation and evaluation, (2) How to evaluate its contribution to key issues and topics in Social Anthropology; (3) Theoretical contributions; (4) Methodology and research methods; (5) The evaluation of the relationship between description and analysis (6) Examination of its structure, presentation and ability to communicate an understanding of a social and cultural group through the written word; (7) Ethnographies, photography and multi-media. Indicative themes in visual anthropology may include: (1) Collaborative and participatory media production (2) Photography, soundscapes and the senses (3) Cinema Verite and ethnographic film (4) Indigenous media, reception and publics (5) The transformative efficacy of video.

Find out more about SE627

This module combines theoretical and methodological approaches from sociology, cultural and media studies, history and literature to examine how our understandings of the past, present and future are formed, framed, mediated and remediated in a variety of social, cultural and political contexts. It aims to introduce students to key themes and issues related to the social experience of time. It will encourage them to reflect on how this experience informs our approaches to social problems, relationships of power and inequality, and the formation of collective identities. Over the course of the term, we will debate and critically explore the roles of heritage, nostalgia, the imagination, narrative and imagery at the heart of both processes of social change and cultural continuity. We will question what it is that forms the constitutive narrative of a cultural identity, its foundations, expression and trajectory. We will also examine the material and symbolic construction of social groups such as generations, classes and communities.

Find out more about SO621

The course is concerned with the relatively new ideas of living in a ‘risk society’ which theoretically capture the heightened sensitivity within Western societies to the numerous ‘risks’ which shape our lives. The course will explore basic concepts of risk, hazard and probability and how risk is managed and communicated. Topics will include risk and globalization, and risk and the media. Developments will be examined through key examples such as ‘mad cow’ disease and genetically modified ‘frankenfoods’. The course will suggest that heightened perception of risk is here to stay, and is leading to a reorganisation of society in important areas.

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Images of 'trim, taut and terrific' bodies surround us in contemporary consumer culture. They look down on us from billboards, are increasingly central to advertisers’ attempts to sell us clothes, cosmetics, cars, and other products, and pervade reality television programmes based on diet, exercise and ‘extreme’ makeovers. These trends have occurred at the same time that science, technology, genetic engineering and medicine have achieved unprecedented levels of control over the body: there are now few parts of the body which cannot be remoulded, supplemented or transplanted in one way or another. In this course we explore how culture represents and shapes bodies, and also examine how embodied subjects are themselves able to act on and influence the culture in which they live. We will seek to understand the relationship between the body and self-identity, embodiment and inequalities, and will explore various theories of the body. In doing this we range far and wide by looking at such issues as work, music, sex/gender, cyberbodies, Makeover TV, film, transgenderism, sport, music, work and sleep. Embodiment is the enduring theme of this course, though, and we will explore its many dimensions via a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, and by asking and addressing a range of questions such as ‘How and why has the body become increasingly commodified?’, ‘Why has the body become increasingly central to so many people’s sense of self-identity?’, ‘If we live in a culture that has been able to intervene in the sizes, shapes and contents of the body like never before, have people have become less sure about what is ‘natural’ about the body, and about how we should care for and treat our bodily selves?

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This module introduces some of the major works in ancient philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle the Epicureans, Stoics and/or the Skeptics. 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 intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how ancient philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.

Find out more about CL708

This module explores 5th-century Athenian history through the plays that were put on stage during this period of war and political upheaval. Greek tragedies and comedies produced during this tumultuous period (472-405 BC) offer us some of the most enticing, yet challenging, evidence for the state of Athenian politics and attitudes to contemporary events (especially war and empire). In this module, the evidence of key plays will be set against other forms of historical evidence to illuminate the complex relationship between the types of evidence that survive and the nature of 'making history'.

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This module investigates representations of gender and identity in a selection of texts by women writers from different temporal, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. In particular, it seeks to explore the way in which representations of "self" and "other", love and desire, madness and motherhood reflect the respective socio-cultural contexts and the situation of women therein. Corporeal aesthetics, patterns of behaviour labelled as feminine or masculine, representations of transgressive conduct, and relations of power will be investigated, drawing on classic feminist theory and historiography (Wollstonecraft, Beauvoir, Irigaray, Butler, Moi, Badinter), psychoanalytical thought (Freud), narratology (Genette), genre-theory (Bakhtin) subject-theory (Sartre, Levinas, Derrida) and studies in visual culture (Barthes, Sontag, Mulvey).

Students will be asked to engage with the significance of images and representations of women and men proliferated through literature. These representations provide or question role models and perpetuate or problematise stereotypical versions of female/male goals and aspirations. Furthermore, emphasis will be placed on close readings of the selected literary works, on cultural differences and variations, and on how conceptions of sex and gender are changing in the course of time.

Find out more about CP629

This module studies individual genres, which may vary across different academic terms (it may focus on the horror, science-fiction, western, musical, comedy, the noir or the gangster film, among others). It combines aesthetic and narrative analysis with the history of the genre. The theoretical framework draws from traditionally employed methods to study the genre in question (for example, psychoanalytical, postmodern or cognitive theory). The historical portion of the course examines the genre's growing commercial viability, the proliferation of subgenres, and the growing attention of academics. Topics include, but are not restricted to, gender politics, representations of sexuality, political commentary, allegory.

Find out more about FI595

This module looks at a group of politically inspired literary texts, comics and films, some of which were produced under the totalitarian regimes which held sway in Europe between 1917 and 1989. Others deal with the Middle East conflict, and the Islamic revolution in Iran and Mao's Cultural Revolution in China, or power relations in other contexts. Most explore ways of challenging and subverting authoritarian power structures and of articulating a critique in what Bertolt Brecht called 'dark times’. But we also focus on less obvious negotiations of fiction and power, especially with respect to the various forms of power to which these texts are subject, in which they participate, and on which they reflect metafictionally. The approach is comparative in various ways as the texts range historically and culturally, as well as across genres and language barriers (Arab, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Greek, Polish, Russian and Chinese).

Find out more about CP524

Cultures never develop and grow in isolation. They are built on the values of past generations, and they are shaped and challenged in interaction with other cultures. The main objective of this module is to explore and present the powerful interaction between Europe and the Islamic world in early modern times, c. 1450-1750.

The course will firstly provide an overview of the rise and fall of three major Islamic states and empires (the Abbasid Caliphate, the Safavid Empire, the Ottoman Empire). It will then assess the early modern European encounter with the Islamic world 1) by discussing the scholarly, religious, political and economic incentives for this encounter; 2) by documenting the exchange of knowledge, ideas, values and material objects this encounter stimulated in the early modern period; 3) by exploring the enormous impact, which this encounter had on European civilization. The course will focus on the following topics and areas of life:

1) Transmission of scientific, technical and medical knowledge.

2) Collecting manuscripts and studying the languages of the Islamic world

3) Trade and economic exchange

4) Conflict and cooperation

5) Understanding Islam, translating the Koran

6) European discovery of Arabic literature, art and architecture

7) Arabs in the West (diplomats, travellers, scholars and prisoners)

8) Europeans in the East (diplomats, travellers, scholars and prisoners)

Find out more about HI6009

The French Revolution continues rightly to be regarded as one the great turning points of modern European History. This course will introduce students to the political, social and economic context of France from the accession of Louis XVI to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. It will explore and assess the divergent interpretations for the origins of the revolutionary conflagration of 1789. There will also be an attempt to understand how a revolution based on the triad 'liberty, equally and fraternity,' lost of sight of its humanitarian aspirations and quickly descended into fratricidal political terror and warfare on a trans-European scale. Students will also be encouraged to cast a critical eye on the vexed question of the French Revolution's contribution to modern political culture.

Find out more about HI6011

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.

Find out more about PL611

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.

Find out more about PL618

This module explores the origins, evolution and role of the United Nations (UN) in world politics. The aim is to understand how and why states and other actors participate in the UN. The module further explores the extent to which the United Nations is able to achieve its stated goals of maintaining peace and security, achieving cooperation to solve key international problems, and promoting respect for human rights. The module examines the work of key UN organs, agencies, and member states in a variety of issue areas, with the aim of critically assessing the successes, challenges, and failures of the United Nations.

Find out more about PO555

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.

Find out more about PO563

This module focuses on European Union foreign policy, i.e. the 'external dimension' of EU politics, exploring the relationship between Europe and the rest of the world. Following the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the position of the High Representative, the EU has greater capacity to pursue foreign policy in its neighbourhood, and beyond. Definitions and different strands of European foreign policy will be identified.

Thereafter, the foreign policy tools of the EU will be looked at, after moving into an in-depth thematic treatment of the key foreign policy issues facing the EU vis-à-vis its security, defence, economic, trade and development relations, Brexit and its dynamics with ‘rising powers’, the US, its eastern and southern neighbours in Central Europe, Asia and North Africa. Other issues include its burgeoning military capacity and the impact of institutional reform.

Broader themes will include the impact of global developments on Europe, the international significance of European integration and the more general role of the EU in the new world order. This course will draw on theories from political science and international relations as well as making use of concepts of culture and identity in determining Europe’s connections with the world.

Find out more about PO566

This module explores the origins and evolution of post-Communist Russia. It covers the period from the late 1980s and Mikhail Gorbachev's attempts to reform the Soviet Union, but the main focus is on the years since 1991, starting with the failed putsch against Gorbachev and the rise of Boris Yeltsin and ending with the dilemmas facing Vladimir Putin in his fourth presidential term from 2018. The module examines political developments in post-Communist Russia, with a glance backwards to the decline and fall of the Soviet Union and also analysis of relations with the former Soviet states and the international system. The theoretical focus is on the problems of the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, coupled with the broader problem of establishing a new political order in the context of problematic relations with the West. Linked to this are constitutional developments, economic transformations and social changes. The degree to which the legacy of the past affects contemporary Russia will be examined, with particular attention to questions of political culture, geopolitical determinism and economic interdependence.

Specifically, we will discuss issues such as democratisation, the role of the presidency, the emergence and evolution of the multi-party system, electoral and parliamentary politics, federalism and regionalism, as well as economic, foreign, security and defence policy. We will also look at problems of leadership, evaluating the achievements and failures of Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-1991), Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), Vladimir Putin (2000-2008 and 2012-present) and Dmitry Medvedev (2008-12 as president and 2012-present as Prime Minister). We will study empirical issues to provide the knowledge and evidence against which conceptual questions can be addressed and rival theories tested.

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The purpose of this module is to consider the ways in which feminist thought has influenced political theory. 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?

Find out more about PO593

This module aims to provide students with a critical introduction and review of China's political development from 1949 to today. Following a brief historical review of the evolution of the Chinese political system since 1949, this module is designed around two core blocks of study.

The first block looks at the principal political institutions. They include the Communist Party, the government (State Council), the legislature (National People’s Congress) and the military (People’s Liberation Army). The second block examines the socio-political issues and challenges the country is facing in its ongoing development. They range from political participation and state-society relations, the cost of economic growth to environment and public health, tensions with ethnic minorities, the issues of nationalism and the relationship with Taiwan and Hong Kong, irredentism and territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, and finally China’s grand strategy of the Belt and Road Initiative.

A theme running through various lectures of this module is to ask why post-Mao China has performed better than many other authoritarian regimes in achieving both economic growth and political stability and acquiring international influence, despite the fact that China faces numerous mounting development challenges.

Find out more about PO597

The decision by a small majority of the British electorate in June 2016 to leave the European Union (EU) sent shockwaves throughout Europe and the world and created a political earthquake within the political system of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK). For the first time, a member state signalled its desire to exit the EU. From an EU perspective, this decision is yet another challenge the EU has faced since the Euro-crisis erupted in Greece ten years ago. The EU has also experienced a refugee crisis as well as a number of terrorist attacks and a rule of law crisis in Poland and Hungary. Changes in the international system have also affected the EU with heightened tension with Putin's Russia over the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Finally, the election of Donald Trump as US President with an accompanying weakening of the liberal international order and an increase in trade wars and disputes has added further instability. In response, EU member state governments, parliaments and the EU’s institutions have begun a dialogue on ideas to recast the EU in this changing environment.

In this module we will endeavour to 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 this time of uncertainty and flux. We will also look at the process of how the UK is exiting the EU, how it has been managed by the UK government and the EU27 and its implications for the future of the EU and the future of the UK. There has certainly never been a more challenging or interesting time to learn about the EU and its politics!

Find out more about PO611

Since 2009, the European Union (EU) has grappled with a crisis in the Eurozone, a refugee crisis, terrorist attacks in France, Belgium and the UK, the rise of challenger parties, heightened tension with Putin's Russia, the UK’s Brexit decision and rule of law disputes with Hungary and Poland. This has led to increased questioning of the purpose and trajectory of European integration and policy-making. 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, economic and monetary union, environmental policy, agriculture policy, regional policy, justice and home affairs policy (internal security), foreign policy and trade policy. As well as analysing the effectiveness of EU policy-making in these policy areas, where appropriate we also explore the impact of ongoing political events on their operation.

Find out more about PO612

With the world's largest economy and most powerful armed forces, the United States bestrides the world stage. Culturally, politically, diplomatically and intellectually, it is the most important player, too. To understand the world, one must understand America and its politics. Yet, according to many critics, the US’s own political system is in crisis and turmoil, not least because of the ascension to power of an outsider president who revels in his disruptive capabilities. Trump challenged our notions of who could be elected to the most powerful job in the world and he is currently challenging long established theories about how the US government can and should work. His presidency is layered on top of an ongoing 'war’ over cultural issues and the deep-seated antipathy between the political parties and between the presidential and congressional branches. All this has further reinforced perceptions about the system’s dysfunctionality. The US, like many other nations, also faces serious public policy questions on the economy, health, energy, education, guns, crime, poverty and immigration, among others. But good, politically viable solutions seem remote. George Bush left office as one of the most unpopular presidents since polling began, and the bubble of expectation surrounding Barack Obama on his election in November 2008 quickly burst. Now the American people have chosen a neophyte populist to govern them. How will he do? More broadly, how will, or even can, the US political system rise to the challenges facing it when its political institutions and actors appear deeply divided?

It is not hard to see why many observers believe that the US has become harder to govern and increasingly interesting as a subject for academic study. In order to answer some of the questions outlined above, PO617 offers a comprehensive introduction to the politics and government of the United States.

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This module examines the politics of transition and change in Eastern Europe over the last three decades, with an emphasis on processes of disintegration and integration, international cooperation and the challenges of post-communist internal political reform. Accordingly, the module consists of three parts.

Part One (Weeks 1-4) examines the region's recent political inheritance, with a focus on the communist system, the subsequent collapse of the USSR and the end of socialism in Central and Eastern Europe.

Part Two (Weeks 6-8) looks at the political re-orientations of Central and Eastern Europe during the 1990s and 2000s, with a focus on transition processes, political change, economic change, and the different challenges that came with these transitions.

Part Three (Weeks 9-12) reflects on more recent developments, including international cooperation, new forms of regional integration, and discussions about the feasibility and the future of socialism.

Find out more about PO618

The module aims to introduce students to the major developments in Western political thought from the 16th century onwards. More generally, it aims to make students aware of the historical dimension of political thought and to enable them to distinguish those aspects of an idea which are contingent upon the concrete historical circumstances of its emergence from those which transcend its historical context.

Students who successfully complete this module will be familiar with the standard canon of modern Western political theory. They will be able to summarize the main ideas of the key thinkers in these traditions and place them in their respective historical context. They will be able to appreciate that contemporary political concerns are often the result of long-term historical processes. In addition, students will be aware of the specific problems which 'modernity' poses for political theory in Western societies and beyond.

Find out more about PO623

This module provides an introduction to the scholarly study of terrorism and political violence. It aims to thoroughly deepen students' existing knowledge of this controversial subject. The initial series of lectures pertain to key debates in the field of terrorism studies: the definitional challenges around the concept of 'terrorism’ itself; competing perspectives on the causes of terrorist violence; and disagreements as to the efficacy of terrorism as an expression of political agency. After the reading week, the module focuses in greater detail on various forms of terrorism and political violence: dissident/non-state terrorism; counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency; state terrorism; ‘new terrorism’; and torture. The module examines terrorism and political violence in a variety of historical, political and geographical contexts, and through a variety of theoretical lenses. It addresses methodological problems in the study of terrorism and the potential link between religion and political violence. The course also examines the implications of the ‘War on Terror’ for democracy, human rights and international security.

Find out more about PO629

This module introduces the students to the study of the Middle East as a region, a conflict and a security complex. Against the background of a historical review of the gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire and European rule in the region after the First World War and in order to understand the imperial legacy, the emergence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem and the impact of the sub-state loyalties, the module will focus mainly on the various dimensions of the modern Middle East. In this context, 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 major regional crises and their consequences.

Adopting an international relations perspective, the module will also cover the impact of the outside state actors, such as USA, EU and Russia on the Middle East as a whole and on the relationships between the states that compose this region.

Here, special attention will be paid to the emergence of the Middle East as a security complex immediately after the Second World War and the establishment of the Israeli state, the developments during the Cold War and the limits and consequences of hegemonic power after the end of the Cold War.

The students will be introduced to the important issue of 'Orientalism', the problematic aspects of the Western academic study of the Middle East and the Islamic world. The course will conclude with the discussion of the critical matter of the democratization of the region.

Find out more about PO630

The module examines the nature of political behaviour in Britain today. It focuses on two key issues. The first is the way that citizens participate in politics. The module explores the nature of political participation, and how this has changed in the last few decades. It also examines the characteristics of people who participate, and the factors that motivate individuals to engage in different forms of political participation. The second key issue examined is voting behaviour. The module considers how far electoral decisions are shaped by stable ‘sociological’ factors, and how far voters today are less closely aligned with parties and more open to the influence of particular policy messages, personalities and media coverage. Alongside this focus on the behaviour of citizens, the module also considers the activities of key intermediary organisations, such as legislators. Throughout, the module seeks to develop students’ understanding and analytical skills, by considering theories and models of political behaviour along with the way data and other evidence can be brought to bear in testing the validity of these models.

Find out more about PO638

A thread running through this module is a belief that to understand today's China we have to know how it has come to the present. Present-day China is a product of its deep imperial past and of its revolutions in the 20th century, the Republican, the Nationalist and the Communist. Before studying the 'rise' of contemporary China, we must therefore understand the collapse of imperial China in the early 20th century. We can perceive the said rise of China as the process of regaining its rightful place in the Western-dominated international system and of mutual accommodation between China and the rest of the world.

Also, for many students of international relations, China's entry and integration into the international society since the 1970s has been strikingly non-violent. A secondary focus of this module will be on how China and other key members of the world have been mutually accommodating to each other and whether the 'peaceful rise' can continue.

Overall, the module is built on a historical study of China’s foreign relations and theoretical study of International Relations concepts/theories of hegemony, hierarchy, (social) legitimacy and national identity.

Find out more about PO658

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.

Find out more about PO660

Stage 3

Compulsory modules currently include

The research dissertation module aims to give students of politics and international relations the opportunity to do independent and original research on a topic of their choice. While we try to give students as much freedom as possible in their choice of topic, the final thesis title will require approval by the module convenor in order to ensure that (a) the title falls within the subject area of politics and international relations (broadly conceived) and that (b) the learning resources and expertise available in the School allow us to supervise the dissertation.

Many PO679 students already know the general area of their dissertation topic at the time of their registration for the module but there is still a long way to travel from your 'interests' in a particular topic or research area to a suitable and feasible dissertation title. In PO679 you will go 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 your 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 will help you along the way.

We recommend PO679 to all students considering postgraduate studies. Most postgraduate programmes – at MA, MPhil and PhD level – require you to write a substantial dissertation.

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

Find out more about PO679

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.

Find out more about PO681

Optional modules may include

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.

Find out more about PO681

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. A special feature of this module is that students can submit a ‘documented practice of resistance’ for assessment.

Find out more about PO682

The curriculum 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 by the module convenors 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 at least two thinkers. The module is structured around lectures and seminars.

Find out more about PO669

One of the most striking developments in established Western democracies has been the rise of radical right politics, as reflected in the growth of parties in Europe like the National Front in France, the Freedom Party of Austria, the UK Independence Party and then Brexit Party, and in the election of Donald Trump in the United States. In this module, students will investigate the nature and rise of populism and explore related issues such as national populism and racially-motivated violence and/or terrorism. This module will familiarise students with conceptual and theoretical debates within the academic literature, and introduce students to 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. More broadly, the module will enable students to strengthen their communication and presentational skills, critically assess academic debates and improve their understanding of theory and methods.

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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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The Asia-Pacific is one of the world's most economically and politically dynamic regions. But despite nuclear, territorial, and historical tensions, growing superpower competition, and cross-border threats from crime to the environment, the region has remained relatively peaceful and stable since 1945.

In this module we will begin by explore the puzzle of the region’s stability using approaches drawn from Western and non-Western international relations theories. We will then use these theories to help understand the causes of the region’s most pressing security and development concerns, analyse the likelihood that they will lead to instability and conflict, and evaluate policy measures that might resolve them. We will look at the risk of war over the Taiwan Straits, a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and historical grievances with Japan, before analysing regional solutions to cross-national security and economic challenges. The module will conclude by examining whether the region’s stability is likely to continue in the face of major shifts in the regional balance of power.

Please note that to succeed in this course students will need to spend time engaging fully with the readings, lectures, and seminars. Students are expected to read at least two articles/chapters per week, and seminar grades will depend on having carried out these readings.

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This module will address the politics and international relations of East Asia since 1945. We will analyse the causes and significance of events such as the Korean War, the Cultural Revolution, the economic take-off of both Japan and South Korea, China's economic reforms, democratisation and violence across the region, and the growing importance of populism and nationalism.

A central theme of the module will be uncovering the decisions that leaders take in order to hold onto power – from conflict to corruption, purges to propaganda – and how these decisions continue to influence the domestic and international politics of this vitally important region. We will explore differences in the countries’ domestic political systems and their economic and security considerations to shine a light on major historical and contemporary policies.

In seminars and their policy report, students will develop their own expertise on one East Asian country, in order to provide cutting-edge political analysis of the policy challenges that East Asian leaders face today.

Please note that this course covers a wide range of countries and time periods, so to succeed students will need to spend time engaging fully with the readings, lectures, and seminars. Students are expected to read at least two articles/chapters per week, and seminar grades will depend on having carried out these readings.

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PO686 explores the political biographies of three icons of 20th and 21st century politics: Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. All three have arguably changed the course of history not just in their home countries, and we will be studying how their lives brought them to the forefront of the historical struggles which they came to represent. In particular, we will be looking at how they came to make the personal commitment to engage in these struggles and how they came to accept and deal with the sacrifices that their involvement entailed. We will be particularly interested in the self-understanding of these figures as political actors. Did they intend or plan to have the impact they had? Or did political fame catch them by surprise? Did they understand themselves as political leaders, and if yes, what notions of leadership did they develop as part of their political struggles? How did they understand the resistance they offered to colonial oppression, racial discrimination and oppressive military regimes? What were the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of their resistance? What influenced them to offer this resistance? How did they reflect on their acts of resistance? What gave them the courage they needed in order to offer this resistance? And what were their methods? Were the means of their struggles appropriate for achieving their ends? What was the role of violence in these methods?

Apart from asking questions about their political lives and the impact these lives had on world history, we will also be able to ask more general questions about political reality itself: Can individuals really affect the course of national and world history? What enabled these figures to have such an impact? Personality? Charisma? Luck? Or were the circumstances such that anyone in similar positions could have provoked change? In fact, how did these figures relate to the world of politics? For example, was Gandhi a 'politician'? Did they have the impact they had because they stood in some sense ‘outside’ conventional politics? And also what does it say about us, about our political present, if we today revere these figures as icons of righteous resistance? Why is there a Nelson Mandela building on Campus? Why is his picture in the Rutherford Dining Hall? What is it that we admire in Mandela? And is the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi failed to live up to our expectations enough to justify her recent fall from grace? These are just some examples of the kinds of questions we will discuss in PO686.

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This module functions as a 'great books' module: students are expected to read a significant portion of a great book every week (averaging around fifty pages each week). These books will introduce students to important debates in a series of different fields in the humanities and social sciences, as well as key debates in the philosophy of science. While the content of the module will vary from year to year depending on guest lecturers, a balance will be struck to enable students to learn widely and develop a critical outlook on literary, social, political, economic, and epistemological works. Students will be encouraged to make connections between all of these areas of knowledge and critically evaluate the works of the authors read in their written work.

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Images of 'trim, taut and terrific' bodies surround us in contemporary consumer culture. They look down on us from billboards, are increasingly central to advertisers’ attempts to sell us clothes, cosmetics, cars, and other products, and pervade reality television programmes based on diet, exercise and ‘extreme’ makeovers. These trends have occurred at the same time that science, technology, genetic engineering and medicine have achieved unprecedented levels of control over the body: there are now few parts of the body which cannot be remoulded, supplemented or transplanted in one way or another. In this course we explore how culture represents and shapes bodies, and also examine how embodied subjects are themselves able to act on and influence the culture in which they live. We will seek to understand the relationship between the body and self-identity, embodiment and inequalities, and will explore various theories of the body. In doing this we range far and wide by looking at such issues as work, music, sex/gender, cyberbodies, Makeover TV, film, transgenderism, sport, music, work and sleep. Embodiment is the enduring theme of this course, though, and we will explore its many dimensions via a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, and by asking and addressing a range of questions such as ‘How and why has the body become increasingly commodified?’, ‘Why has the body become increasingly central to so many people’s sense of self-identity?’, ‘If we live in a culture that has been able to intervene in the sizes, shapes and contents of the body like never before, have people have become less sure about what is ‘natural’ about the body, and about how we should care for and treat our bodily selves?

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The course is concerned with the relatively new ideas of living in a ‘risk society’ which theoretically capture the heightened sensitivity within Western societies to the numerous ‘risks’ which shape our lives. The course will explore basic concepts of risk, hazard and probability and how risk is managed and communicated. Topics will include risk and globalization, and risk and the media. Developments will be examined through key examples such as ‘mad cow’ disease and genetically modified ‘frankenfoods’. The course will suggest that heightened perception of risk is here to stay, and is leading to a reorganisation of society in important areas.

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This module combines theoretical and methodological approaches from sociology, cultural and media studies, history and literature to examine how our understandings of the past, present and future are formed, framed, mediated and remediated in a variety of social, cultural and political contexts. It aims to introduce students to key themes and issues related to the social experience of time. It will encourage them to reflect on how this experience informs our approaches to social problems, relationships of power and inequality, and the formation of collective identities. Over the course of the term, we will debate and critically explore the roles of heritage, nostalgia, the imagination, narrative and imagery at the heart of both processes of social change and cultural continuity. We will question what it is that forms the constitutive narrative of a cultural identity, its foundations, expression and trajectory. We will also examine the material and symbolic construction of social groups such as generations, classes and communities.

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This module provides an overview of the degree to which cyberspace continues to revolutionise the operations of both state and non-state actors, and the challenges of governing this 'fifth sphere' of power projection. Whilst this module is not entrenched in International Relations or Security Studies theory, students will have the opportunity to apply both traditional and non-traditional approaches to the politics of cyberspace. Key themes include: 21st century technology, cyber warfare, espionage, surveillance, deterrence theory, cyberterrorism, and representation of threatening cyber-entities. Students will develop a toolkit to critique the existing state and NGO-based governance regime for cyberspace, and will convey arguments both for and against a ‘Geneva Convention’ for cyberspace.

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The aim of the module is offer an understanding of nationalism as a political phenomenon, approached from different perspectives and appreciated in its manifestations across time and space. The module first introduces and discusses the concepts of nations and nationalism and their distinctions from related concepts such as state, ethnic group, region etc. It then charts the emergence of nationalism, its success in becoming the dominant principle of political organisation, and its diffusion around the world. Subsequently, it engages with the main theories seeking to account for this process, discussing their respective strengths and weaknesses. It then explores the tensions between state and regional nationalism and some of the theories put forward to explain the latter. In a further step, it discusses some of the key aspects of nationalism, such as nation-building, national identity, nationalism and state structures, nationalism and secession, and the challenge of supra-national integration. It concludes by discussing some of the key normative questions raised by nationalism and assessing the likely trajectory of nationalism in the foreseeable future. By so doing, the module offers an analysis of the past, present, and future of nationalism and its significance in contemporary politics.

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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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A thread running through this module is a belief that to understand today's China we have to know how it has come to the present. Present-day China is a product of its deep imperial past and of its revolutions in the 20th century, the Republican, the Nationalist and the Communist. Before studying the 'rise' of contemporary China, we must therefore understand the collapse of imperial China in the early 20th century. We can perceive the said rise of China as the process of regaining its rightful place in the Western-dominated international system and of mutual accommodation between China and the rest of the world.

Also, for many students of international relations, China's entry and integration into the international society since the 1970s has been strikingly non-violent. A secondary focus of this module will be on how China and other key members of the world have been mutually accommodating to each other and whether the 'peaceful rise' can continue.

Overall, the module is built on a historical study of China’s foreign relations and theoretical study of International Relations concepts/theories of hegemony, hierarchy, (social) legitimacy and national identity.

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The module examines the nature of political behaviour in Britain today. It focuses on two key issues. The first is the way that citizens participate in politics. The module explores the nature of political participation, and how this has changed in the last few decades. It also examines the characteristics of people who participate, and the factors that motivate individuals to engage in different forms of political participation. The second key issue examined is voting behaviour. The module considers how far electoral decisions are shaped by stable ‘sociological’ factors, and how far voters today are less closely aligned with parties and more open to the influence of particular policy messages, personalities and media coverage. Alongside this focus on the behaviour of citizens, the module also considers the activities of key intermediary organisations, such as legislators. Throughout, the module seeks to develop students’ understanding and analytical skills, by considering theories and models of political behaviour along with the way data and other evidence can be brought to bear in testing the validity of these models.

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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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This module introduces the students to the study of the Middle East as a region, a conflict and a security complex. Against the background of a historical review of the gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire and European rule in the region after the First World War and in order to understand the imperial legacy, the emergence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem and the impact of the sub-state loyalties, the module will focus mainly on the various dimensions of the modern Middle East. In this context, 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 major regional crises and their consequences.

Adopting an international relations perspective, the module will also cover the impact of the outside state actors, such as USA, EU and Russia on the Middle East as a whole and on the relationships between the states that compose this region.

Here, special attention will be paid to the emergence of the Middle East as a security complex immediately after the Second World War and the establishment of the Israeli state, the developments during the Cold War and the limits and consequences of hegemonic power after the end of the Cold War.

The students will be introduced to the important issue of 'Orientalism', the problematic aspects of the Western academic study of the Middle East and the Islamic world. The course will conclude with the discussion of the critical matter of the democratization of the region.

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This module provides an introduction to the scholarly study of terrorism and political violence. It aims to thoroughly deepen students' existing knowledge of this controversial subject. The initial series of lectures pertain to key debates in the field of terrorism studies: the definitional challenges around the concept of 'terrorism’ itself; competing perspectives on the causes of terrorist violence; and disagreements as to the efficacy of terrorism as an expression of political agency. After the reading week, the module focuses in greater detail on various forms of terrorism and political violence: dissident/non-state terrorism; counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency; state terrorism; ‘new terrorism’; and torture. The module examines terrorism and political violence in a variety of historical, political and geographical contexts, and through a variety of theoretical lenses. It addresses methodological problems in the study of terrorism and the potential link between religion and political violence. The course also examines the implications of the ‘War on Terror’ for democracy, human rights and international security.

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The module aims to introduce students to the major developments in Western political thought from the 16th century onwards. More generally, it aims to make students aware of the historical dimension of political thought and to enable them to distinguish those aspects of an idea which are contingent upon the concrete historical circumstances of its emergence from those which transcend its historical context.

Students who successfully complete this module will be familiar with the standard canon of modern Western political theory. They will be able to summarize the main ideas of the key thinkers in these traditions and place them in their respective historical context. They will be able to appreciate that contemporary political concerns are often the result of long-term historical processes. In addition, students will be aware of the specific problems which 'modernity' poses for political theory in Western societies and beyond.

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This module examines the politics of transition and change in Eastern Europe over the last three decades, with an emphasis on processes of disintegration and integration, international cooperation and the challenges of post-communist internal political reform. Accordingly, the module consists of three parts.

Part One (Weeks 1-4) examines the region's recent political inheritance, with a focus on the communist system, the subsequent collapse of the USSR and the end of socialism in Central and Eastern Europe.

Part Two (Weeks 6-8) looks at the political re-orientations of Central and Eastern Europe during the 1990s and 2000s, with a focus on transition processes, political change, economic change, and the different challenges that came with these transitions.

Part Three (Weeks 9-12) reflects on more recent developments, including international cooperation, new forms of regional integration, and discussions about the feasibility and the future of socialism.

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With the world's largest economy and most powerful armed forces, the United States bestrides the world stage. Culturally, politically, diplomatically and intellectually, it is the most important player, too. To understand the world, one must understand America and its politics. Yet, according to many critics, the US’s own political system is in crisis and turmoil, not least because of the ascension to power of an outsider president who revels in his disruptive capabilities. Trump challenged our notions of who could be elected to the most powerful job in the world and he is currently challenging long established theories about how the US government can and should work. His presidency is layered on top of an ongoing 'war’ over cultural issues and the deep-seated antipathy between the political parties and between the presidential and congressional branches. All this has further reinforced perceptions about the system’s dysfunctionality. The US, like many other nations, also faces serious public policy questions on the economy, health, energy, education, guns, crime, poverty and immigration, among others. But good, politically viable solutions seem remote. George Bush left office as one of the most unpopular presidents since polling began, and the bubble of expectation surrounding Barack Obama on his election in November 2008 quickly burst. Now the American people have chosen a neophyte populist to govern them. How will he do? More broadly, how will, or even can, the US political system rise to the challenges facing it when its political institutions and actors appear deeply divided?

It is not hard to see why many observers believe that the US has become harder to govern and increasingly interesting as a subject for academic study. In order to answer some of the questions outlined above, PO617 offers a comprehensive introduction to the politics and government of the United States.

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Since 2009, the European Union (EU) has grappled with a crisis in the Eurozone, a refugee crisis, terrorist attacks in France, Belgium and the UK, the rise of challenger parties, heightened tension with Putin's Russia, the UK’s Brexit decision and rule of law disputes with Hungary and Poland. This has led to increased questioning of the purpose and trajectory of European integration and policy-making. 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, economic and monetary union, environmental policy, agriculture policy, regional policy, justice and home affairs policy (internal security), foreign policy and trade policy. As well as analysing the effectiveness of EU policy-making in these policy areas, where appropriate we also explore the impact of ongoing political events on their operation.

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The decision by a small majority of the British electorate in June 2016 to leave the European Union (EU) sent shockwaves throughout Europe and the world and created a political earthquake within the political system of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK). For the first time, a member state signalled its desire to exit the EU. From an EU perspective, this decision is yet another challenge the EU has faced since the Euro-crisis erupted in Greece ten years ago. The EU has also experienced a refugee crisis as well as a number of terrorist attacks and a rule of law crisis in Poland and Hungary. Changes in the international system have also affected the EU with heightened tension with Putin's Russia over the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Finally, the election of Donald Trump as US President with an accompanying weakening of the liberal international order and an increase in trade wars and disputes has added further instability. In response, EU member state governments, parliaments and the EU’s institutions have begun a dialogue on ideas to recast the EU in this changing environment.

In this module we will endeavour to 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 this time of uncertainty and flux. We will also look at the process of how the UK is exiting the EU, how it has been managed by the UK government and the EU27 and its implications for the future of the EU and the future of the UK. There has certainly never been a more challenging or interesting time to learn about the EU and its politics!

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This module aims to provide students with a critical introduction and review of China's political development from 1949 to today. Following a brief historical review of the evolution of the Chinese political system since 1949, this module is designed around two core blocks of study.

The first block looks at the principal political institutions. They include the Communist Party, the government (State Council), the legislature (National People’s Congress) and the military (People’s Liberation Army). The second block examines the socio-political issues and challenges the country is facing in its ongoing development. They range from political participation and state-society relations, the cost of economic growth to environment and public health, tensions with ethnic minorities, the issues of nationalism and the relationship with Taiwan and Hong Kong, irredentism and territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, and finally China’s grand strategy of the Belt and Road Initiative.

A theme running through various lectures of this module is to ask why post-Mao China has performed better than many other authoritarian regimes in achieving both economic growth and political stability and acquiring international influence, despite the fact that China faces numerous mounting development challenges.

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The purpose of this module is to consider the ways in which feminist thought has influenced political theory. 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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This module explores the origins and evolution of post-Communist Russia. It covers the period from the late 1980s and Mikhail Gorbachev's attempts to reform the Soviet Union, but the main focus is on the years since 1991, starting with the failed putsch against Gorbachev and the rise of Boris Yeltsin and ending with the dilemmas facing Vladimir Putin in his fourth presidential term from 2018. The module examines political developments in post-Communist Russia, with a glance backwards to the decline and fall of the Soviet Union and also analysis of relations with the former Soviet states and the international system. The theoretical focus is on the problems of the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, coupled with the broader problem of establishing a new political order in the context of problematic relations with the West. Linked to this are constitutional developments, economic transformations and social changes. The degree to which the legacy of the past affects contemporary Russia will be examined, with particular attention to questions of political culture, geopolitical determinism and economic interdependence.

Specifically, we will discuss issues such as democratisation, the role of the presidency, the emergence and evolution of the multi-party system, electoral and parliamentary politics, federalism and regionalism, as well as economic, foreign, security and defence policy. We will also look at problems of leadership, evaluating the achievements and failures of Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-1991), Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), Vladimir Putin (2000-2008 and 2012-present) and Dmitry Medvedev (2008-12 as president and 2012-present as Prime Minister). We will study empirical issues to provide the knowledge and evidence against which conceptual questions can be addressed and rival theories tested.

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This module focuses on European Union foreign policy, i.e. the 'external dimension' of EU politics, exploring the relationship between Europe and the rest of the world. Following the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the position of the High Representative, the EU has greater capacity to pursue foreign policy in its neighbourhood, and beyond. Definitions and different strands of European foreign policy will be identified.

Thereafter, the foreign policy tools of the EU will be looked at, after moving into an in-depth thematic treatment of the key foreign policy issues facing the EU vis-à-vis its security, defence, economic, trade and development relations, Brexit and its dynamics with ‘rising powers’, the US, its eastern and southern neighbours in Central Europe, Asia and North Africa. Other issues include its burgeoning military capacity and the impact of institutional reform.

Broader themes will include the impact of global developments on Europe, the international significance of European integration and the more general role of the EU in the new world order. This course will draw on theories from political science and international relations as well as making use of concepts of culture and identity in determining Europe’s connections with the world.

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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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This module explores the origins, evolution and role of the United Nations (UN) in world politics. The aim is to understand how and why states and other actors participate in the UN. The module further explores the extent to which the United Nations is able to achieve its stated goals of maintaining peace and security, achieving cooperation to solve key international problems, and promoting respect for human rights. The module examines the work of key UN organs, agencies, and member states in a variety of issue areas, with the aim of critically assessing the successes, challenges, and failures of the United Nations.

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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.

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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.

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The French Revolution continues rightly to be regarded as one the great turning points of modern European History. This course will introduce students to the political, social and economic context of France from the accession of Louis XVI to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. It will explore and assess the divergent interpretations for the origins of the revolutionary conflagration of 1789. There will also be an attempt to understand how a revolution based on the triad 'liberty, equally and fraternity,' lost of sight of its humanitarian aspirations and quickly descended into fratricidal political terror and warfare on a trans-European scale. Students will also be encouraged to cast a critical eye on the vexed question of the French Revolution's contribution to modern political culture.

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Cultures never develop and grow in isolation. They are built on the values of past generations, and they are shaped and challenged in interaction with other cultures. The main objective of this module is to explore and present the powerful interaction between Europe and the Islamic world in early modern times, c. 1450-1750.

The course will firstly provide an overview of the rise and fall of three major Islamic states and empires (the Abbasid Caliphate, the Safavid Empire, the Ottoman Empire). It will then assess the early modern European encounter with the Islamic world 1) by discussing the scholarly, religious, political and economic incentives for this encounter; 2) by documenting the exchange of knowledge, ideas, values and material objects this encounter stimulated in the early modern period; 3) by exploring the enormous impact, which this encounter had on European civilization. The course will focus on the following topics and areas of life:

1) Transmission of scientific, technical and medical knowledge.

2) Collecting manuscripts and studying the languages of the Islamic world

3) Trade and economic exchange

4) Conflict and cooperation

5) Understanding Islam, translating the Koran

6) European discovery of Arabic literature, art and architecture

7) Arabs in the West (diplomats, travellers, scholars and prisoners)

8) Europeans in the East (diplomats, travellers, scholars and prisoners)

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This module looks at a group of politically inspired literary texts, comics and films, some of which were produced under the totalitarian regimes which held sway in Europe between 1917 and 1989. Others deal with the Middle East conflict, and the Islamic revolution in Iran and Mao's Cultural Revolution in China, or power relations in other contexts. Most explore ways of challenging and subverting authoritarian power structures and of articulating a critique in what Bertolt Brecht called 'dark times’. But we also focus on less obvious negotiations of fiction and power, especially with respect to the various forms of power to which these texts are subject, in which they participate, and on which they reflect metafictionally. The approach is comparative in various ways as the texts range historically and culturally, as well as across genres and language barriers (Arab, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Greek, Polish, Russian and Chinese).

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This module studies individual genres, which may vary across different academic terms (it may focus on the horror, science-fiction, western, musical, comedy, the noir or the gangster film, among others). It combines aesthetic and narrative analysis with the history of the genre. The theoretical framework draws from traditionally employed methods to study the genre in question (for example, psychoanalytical, postmodern or cognitive theory). The historical portion of the course examines the genre's growing commercial viability, the proliferation of subgenres, and the growing attention of academics. Topics include, but are not restricted to, gender politics, representations of sexuality, political commentary, allegory.

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This module investigates representations of gender and identity in a selection of texts by women writers from different temporal, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. In particular, it seeks to explore the way in which representations of "self" and "other", love and desire, madness and motherhood reflect the respective socio-cultural contexts and the situation of women therein. Corporeal aesthetics, patterns of behaviour labelled as feminine or masculine, representations of transgressive conduct, and relations of power will be investigated, drawing on classic feminist theory and historiography (Wollstonecraft, Beauvoir, Irigaray, Butler, Moi, Badinter), psychoanalytical thought (Freud), narratology (Genette), genre-theory (Bakhtin) subject-theory (Sartre, Levinas, Derrida) and studies in visual culture (Barthes, Sontag, Mulvey).

Students will be asked to engage with the significance of images and representations of women and men proliferated through literature. These representations provide or question role models and perpetuate or problematise stereotypical versions of female/male goals and aspirations. Furthermore, emphasis will be placed on close readings of the selected literary works, on cultural differences and variations, and on how conceptions of sex and gender are changing in the course of time.

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This module explores 5th-century Athenian history through the plays which were put on stage during this period of war and political upheaval. Greek tragedies and comedies produced during this tumultuous period (472-405 BC) offer us some of the most enticing, yet challenging, evidence for the state of Athenian politics and attitudes to contemporary events (especially war and empire). In this module, the evidence of key plays will be set against other forms of historical evidence to illuminate the complex relationship between the types of evidence which survive and the nature of 'making history'.

Find out more about CL714

This module introduces some of the major works in ancient philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle the Epicureans, Stoics and/or the Skeptics. 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 intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how ancient philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.

Find out more about CL708

Fees

The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home/EU full-time TBC
  • International full-time TBC

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

Full-time tuition fees for Home and EU undergraduates are £9,250.

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.

Additional costs

There are no compulsory additional costs associated with this course. All textbooks are available from the library, although some students prefer to purchase their own.

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.

Teaching and assessment

Modules are taught by a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. You usually have 10 to 12 hours of contact time with staff each week.

Compulsory Liberal Arts modules are assessed by 100% coursework (essays, projects, dissertation), but optional modules may be assessed by a combination of examination and coursework, usually in the ratio of 50:50, 60:40 or 80:20.

Contact Hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • provide a cross-disciplinary, research-led, inspiring learning environment
  • offer a pioneering educational opportunity within the UK context through which you progress into high-level careers and related postgraduate opportunities
  • develop the following range of aptitudes and skills: communication, language, reasoning, numeracy, information literacy and research methods
  • engage you in a range of disciplines to be able to pursue careers in a range of complex organisational settings
  • promote an understanding of the relations between disciplines and an appreciation of the ways in which cross-disciplinary thinking leads to alternative and approaches to contemporary global challenges.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the principles and application of underlying modes of inquiry within different academic disciplines and contexts
  • cross-disciplinary understanding of qualitative and quantitative reasoning
  • the relation between technological and economic development and cultural change in historical context
  • the forces and events shaping contemporary thought and behaviour across a range of practices and disciplines
  • the various ways in which different disciplines and practices – across the arts, the social sciences, history and politics – conceptualise the contemporary
  • how to communicate seminal ideas across the fields of the social sciences, sciences, arts and humanities
  • how multi-disciplinary approaches and inter-disciplinary thinking can address future cultural and political challenges, such as environmental crises, the state and meaning of democracy and the potentialities of scientific development
  • how the study of given historical contexts can inform contemporary policy and practice
  • a selected topic within a given discipline and application of appropriate research methods.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual abilities:

  • research skills: how to formulate research questions and hypotheses to address problems across a range of disciplines
  • analytical skills: interpretation of arguments, evidence and data; marshalling information from published sources; critical evaluation of your own research and that of others
  • how to use appropriate IT skills to retrieve, analyse and present information
  • numerical evaluation: the use of appropriate analytical methods in handling statistical evidence and data.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in the following:

  • reasoning: how to construct arguments within different intellectual contexts and disciplines, and how to formulate and address research questions and problems
  • communication: how to communicate across disciplines, how to mediate key ideas between disciplines, and how to speak and write persuasively in discursive contexts
  • language: the functional use of a second language equal to the demands of  professional communication
  • presentation of research: how to write essays and a dissertation in an appropriate style in keeping with the conventions of different subject areas
  • numeracy: how to handle and interpret numerical evidence in differing intellectual contexts
  • careers: recognition of career opportunities available to Liberal Arts graduates.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • communication: the ability to organise information clearly, present information orally and in writing, and adapt presentations for different audiences
  • reflection: make use of constructive informal feedback from staff and peers, and assess your own progress to enhance your performance and personal skills
  • self-motivation and independence: time and workload management to meet personal targets and imposed deadlines
  • team work: the ability to work independently and as part of a research group using peer support, diplomacy and collective responsibility.

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

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.

Independent rankings

The BA in Liberal Arts sits within the School of Politics and International Relations.

In The Guardian University Guide 2020, over 91% of final-year Politics students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

Of Politics graduates who responded to the most recent national survey of graduate destinations, over 95% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE, 2017).

Careers

Graduates from the School have gone on to work in fields including:

  • diplomacy
  • the civil service
  • European and international organisations
  • NGOs
  • the media
  • banking
  • teaching.

Help finding a job

The School of Politics and International Relations runs an Employability Programme, focused on providing you with the skills you need when looking for a job. You can book one-to-one sessions for help with employability, skills development and advice on job applications.

You also have access to a weekly Employability Newsletter, featuring jobs for graduates, as well as internship and volunteering opportunities.

The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service, which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Career-enhancing skills

To help you appeal to employers, you also learn key transferable skills that are essential for all graduates. These include the ability to:

  • think critically
  • communicate your ideas and opinions
  • manage your time effectively
  • work independently or as part of a team.

You can also gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.

Apply for Liberal Arts - BA (Hons)

Full-time study through Clearing

The Start now button below takes you to Kent's short form, which you need to fill in and submit. We'll review your application and let you know if we can offer you a place. If you wish to accept our offer, you need to confirm this via UCAS Track. To do so, you'll need the following:

  • Your UCAS Track login details
  • UCAS code LV98
  • Institution ID K24
Start now

Part-time study

Apply for part-time study

Contact us

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

Enquire online for full-time study

T: +44 (0)1227 8272122

Subject contact: polirugadmissions@kent.ac.uk 

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk

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