PO2SOP-The Study of Politics

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:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Mr David Marshall

Email: d.j.marshall@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module examines a range of different approaches to understanding and explaining politics. The module provides an overview of different theoretical approaches to politics, as well as different methodological approaches to political analysis. Students are also provided with opportunities to develop core skills of political research necessary for the successful completion of their undergraduate degree and further career development.

• to assist in improving the research, writing and oral skills of students to the degree that they are more capable of successfully undertaking major research projects including their dissertation;
• to inform students of departmental requirements in relation to the submission of assessed written coursework;
• to inform students of the library and IT resources available to them;
• to allow students to broaden their skills and knowledge of IT and other research resources relevant to their learning;
• to introduce and promote to students the services offered by the Careers, Placement and Experience Centre.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that students will be:
• familiar with a variety of different research methods used in the study of Politics and International Relations;
• able to apply those research methods to their own module assignments;
• able to orally communicate their research to others, and contribute effectively to group discussions;
• able to appreciate the criteria by which coursework is assessed;
• able to use IT and library resources in the completion of tasks;
• able to use careers tools and resources to aid their employability.

Additional outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:
- have a good understanding of the nature of politics
- demonstrate capacity for independent thought
- have a clear understanding of how a degree in politics helps prepare students for further study and/or career development.

Outline content:
The module content is indicative but may consist of the following components:
• lecture series introducing a number of research methods used in the study of Politics and International Relations;
- workshops to deepen the understanding of particular methodologies;
- on-line assessment on research methodology skills;
• tutorial on the use of a statistical software package;
• lecture on how to write-up research;
- workshop on preparing for a mini-conference;
• active participation in a compulsory mini-conference;
• Research Template written assignment;
• Introduction to library resources;
• Careers, Placement and Experience Centre sessions.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Students are required to:

• attend a series of lectures that build a rounded representation of Politics & IR research methodology; 

- meet with supervisors on their chosen research topic;

- attend a compulsory PC Lab tutorial on the use of a statistical software package;

• attend and participate in a compulsory mini-conference, which includes giving a presentation;

• write a compulsory Research Template written assignment;

• attend a compulsory introduction to library resources;

• complete a compulsory careers assignment.

The module employs a wide range of teaching and learning methods towards three themes.

Research methods

All students are required to attend a briefing session, and thereafter attend a series of lectures introducing various research methods. A mini-conference is held, during which students present an outline of a proposed research project to their colleagues and a representative of the Department. This is further developed into a Research Template written assignment, which outlines a research project that could potentially be developed into a dissertation. 

Research skills 

All students are required to attend a library session in which they are introduced to various resources available on the internet and how to use them to best effect. Students must also complete an assessed exercise on Blackboard that tests their understanding of the methodologies introduced and discussed in the lecture series and workshops in Term 1, and their skill in applying these methodologies. The website also makes available a statement of the criteria that staff apply when assessing students’ oral and written work. 

Careers and Placement advice

Sessions provided by the Career, Placement and Experience Centre Students will give students the opportunity to consider career directions, learn about placement opportunities, meet alumni and past placement students, and engage in careers workshop exercises relevant to the skills and experience attained as a student of politics.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 14 1
Practicals classes and workshops 5 8
Guided independent study 92 80
Total hours by term 111.00 89.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 30
Oral assessment and presentation 30
Set exercise 40

Other information on summative assessment:
• presentation of a mini-conference paper (30% - composed 15% oral presentation, 15% for PowerPoint slides/Prezi);
• Research Template written assignment of 3000 words (30%);
• completion of a compulsory Term 1 online assessment (40%);

Formative assessment methods:
• Completion of a compulsory statistical software tutorial and exercise (pass/fail);
• Completion of a compulsory library resource tutorial and exercise (pass/fail).
• Completion of a careers workshop assignment (pass/fail).

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (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.

    Length of examination:
    No examination.

    Requirements for a pass:
    40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    If a student fails to pass the year at the first attempt there is an opportunity to be re-assessed on one further occasion at the next opportunity in those modules achieving a mark of less than 40%. Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward.

    Coursework: 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):
    1) Required text books: Core Books
    There is no set text for this module, however most students will buy a methodologies primer - for instance Pollock's 'The Essentials of Political Analysis' Fifth Edition (RRP £45).
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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