PO2THI-Political Thinking

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: Dr Alice Baderin

Email: a.baderin@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
Issues-based survey course in political theory, involving work on case studies.


This module aims to introduce students to some of the key concepts of political thought; to help them to identify the ways in which such concepts have in practice been deployed; to enable them to apply such concepts themselves in other fields of academic study; and to develop the ability to reason analytically about political questions. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

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

• explain some central concepts in and approaches to political philosophy;

• identify example of such concepts and approaches within canonical texts;

• make comparisons between those texts;

• apply the conceptual equipment acquired to the analysis of modern problems;

• organise and articulate their knowledge in written form, both in assessed essays and in the form of a case study.

Additional outcomes:

The module aims to develop the capacity for independent study, both individually and as part of a team; the ability 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 address the principal themes of Western political theory. They will move from treatment of such basic concepts as democracy, liberty, equality, and justice to considering their appearance in contemporary debates about real-world problems, (e.g. military conscription, the regulation of recreational drugs and reparations for historical injustice). Students will be invited to consider these problems in the light of the concepts and theories studied. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Twelve lectures and twelve 1 hour seminars requiring preparatory research and reading; individual and group presentations; précis exercise; group scrutiny and discussion of set texts. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 7 5
Seminars 7 5
Guided independent study 104 72
Total hours by term 118.00 82.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:
No examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

This module is assessed by means of coursework only.

You must write 2 assignments.

• 4000 word essay (50%)

• 2000 word case study (50%).

Visiting students will follow the same assessments for full credits. Visiting students who are only studying in the autumn term for half credits will submit one assignment in total.

Formative assessment methods:
Presentations in seminars.

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:
    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 within the stipulated resubmission period, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    1) Required text books: The textbook for this course is Issues in Political Theory, Catriona McKinnon (OUP, 2014: ISBN 9780199680436, RRP £27.99). 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: 17 September 2018


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