PO2MAR-Karl Marx

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Mr Yanos Soubieski

Email: yanos.soubieski@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module examines the writings of Karl Marx, the greatest social theorist of the last two centuries, and developments in his thought throughout the twentieth century. This module is a text-based course, starting with excerpts from Marx’s own writings with the aim of identifying the emergence, development and trends of certain key ideas in his thought over the 30 years he was writing.  These include ideas of history, alienation, exploitation and ideology.  We will focus on the historical context and relevance of these texts with a focus on their relevance today.  We will also look at how those key ideas have developed in subsequent Marxist thought, engaging with key Marxist thinkers to identify how these ideas have changed from their origins to contemporary social critique.

There is no examination, but the module will conclude with a Long Essay requiring detailed knowledge of all aspects of the course.


This module aims to introduce students to all aspects of the thinking of Karl Marx, including his views on history, politics, and economics.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module, a student should be able to:

  • explain the most important Marxist doctrines both in the context of Marx’s own writings and later Marxist thought

  • relate them to Marx’s intellectual background and his historical context

  • relate his claims to fundamental problems within social and political theory

  • assess their relevance or otherwise to twenty-first century circumstances

Additional outcomes:

This is a text-based module whose main activity will be collective reading of some demanding texts.  It thus aims to develop the capacity for independent study, both individually and as part of a team; the capacity to think critically about political problems and theories and to be sensitive to the complexities and ambiguities of difficult texts; the skill of presenting the findings of such study and critical thought in group and individual presentations; and to contribute to oral discussions

Outline content:

The lectures will supply essential background information about Marx’s biography, the politics of nineteenth-century Europe, the philosophy of Hegel.  The classes will work through materials in the text-book: Karl Marx, Selected writings, ed.David McLellan, Second edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Given the centrality of this text to the module, students will need to obtain a copy of this edited volume.

Global context:

The module has some bearing on current political problems in every modern polity and culture.  This is clearly the case given the resurgence in Marxist thought since the financial crash of 2007-8 and attempts to theoretically and empirically analyse and investigate this economically, politically and socially calamitous event.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Nine one hour lectures and nine one hour seminars, followed by a viewing of Slavoj Zizek’s The Perverts Guide to Ideology.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 5 6
Seminars 5 4
Guided independent study 90 90
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:


Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Gobbet exercise (1250 words)             First Week of Spring

Gobbet exercise (2,500 words)            Last week of Spring

Long Essay (4,500 words)                   Third week of Summer

Formative assessment methods:

Oral presentation

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:


    Reassessment arrangements:

    Failed or missing coursework should be re-submitted by 1st August, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):



    Required text books:

    Karl Marx, Selected writings, ed. David McLellan, second edn (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000)


    Specialist equipment or materials


    Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear


    Printing and binding


    Computers and devices with a particular specification


    Travel, accommodation and subsistence


    Last updated: 7 August 2018


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