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Year 1 modules – University of Reading

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Year 1 modules

‚ÄčThis page contains summary descriptions for all our first-year modules.

Core modules

Introduction to Contemporary Democracy

The module is intended to open your eyes to how democracy works or doesn't work around the world today. The first section on the origins of democracy looks globally at where democratic and non-democratic systems exist and what factors determine this distribution. Later sections draw much of their empirical content from the UK, but also include comparisons beyond the UK where appropriate.

Introduction to Political Ideas

This module is an introduction to key issues in political theory: democracy, citizenship, freedom, equality, obligation and justice.

Politics: International Relations and Strategic Studies

The module provides an introduction to the study of international relations and strategic studies. You will explore the history and evolution of the modern international system and develop an in-depth knowledge of theoretical approaches to international relations and strategic studies. It's also an opportunity to learn about international organisations and current issues in the area.

Optional modules

British Society

This module draws on theories and approaches from politics, sociology, psychology, history and philosophy to consider some of the main contours of contemporary British society. You will explore a number of images of Britain including: Britain as a welfare state, multicultural Britain and Britain as a class society. You will also look at crime and deviance in Britain, the role of the mass media and the increasing power of the food industry.


This module provides an interdisciplinary approach to the subject of freedom, with contributions from the University's departments of Classics, Law, Philosophy, and Politics. You will explore a range of different perspectives on the idea of freedom, and will examine the different ways in which freedom is valued and regulated in a variety of settings. You will work both individually and within groups to prepare your assignments, and there are a variety of written and oral assessments.


Is inequality fair? What's driving it? How does it affect our society? What can be done about it?

Different individuals earn different salaries, people of different genders and backgrounds have access to different economic opportunities, and those at the top of the income distribution have much better life chances than those at the bottom. What explains rising inequality, is it fair and what are the consequences of changes in inequality?


Our optional modules are arranged on an annual basis and are subject to change. It is possible that a module may be modified in its content, suspended for a session, or discontinued. New modules may become available in any given year.

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