PO1IPI-Introduction to Political Ideas

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Rob Jubb

Email: r.s.d.jubb@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

An introduction to political theory, covering central topics like the state and its authority, democracy, rights and liberty, equality and social justice, and war and intervention, as well as some of the basic methods for understanding them all. 


To introduce students to central topics in political theory and approaches to understanding them. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

At the end of this course students should be able:

  • To explain and analyse some basic political concepts like the state, democracy, rights and liberty;

  • To explain and analyse the use of these basic political concepts in political theory;

  • To explain and analyse the connections between these basic political concepts, their role in theories and traditions and policy preferences and orientations. 

Additional outcomes:

Effective oral presentation; informed and critical use of primary and secondary resources, including intelligent use of internet sources; enhanced confidence in, and effectiveness of, oral and written communication through seminar discussions, presentations and essays; appropriate and consistent referencing. 

Outline content:

This first-year module introduces students to the study of political ideas and concepts. It begins by investigating politics as a distinctive area of human life, the state and the related concept of sovereignty, before moving on to other central political concepts including liberty, equality and democracy, as well as questions around political obligation, the environment and war and intervention. The investigations will be focused around equipping students to study not just political theory b ut politics and international relations more broadly at a higher level, in part through connecting the questions raised in these investigations to contemporary political issues and debates. Students will consider, for example, whether democratic governments have any special claim to their citizens’ obedience, as well as the relationship, if any, between how free someone is and how wealthy they are.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

16 lectures and 10 classes requiring some preparatory reading, oral presentations and written essays.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 8 8
Seminars 5 5
Guided independent study: 87 87
Total hours by term 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:
One three-hour examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will write one 1,500 word essay in each of the Autumn and Spring terms. The coursework mark will be the average of the two essay marks. The coursework mark will constitute 40% of the overall assessment.

Visiting students: will follow the same assessments and if enrolled for the full year will also sit the examination. Those visiting students who are here for Autumn and Spring terms only but wish to gain full credits will also write a 3,000 word essay in place of the examination, to be submitted by the first day of term following their leaving date. Visiting students who are only studying for half credits in Autumn and Spring terms will submit one 1,500 word essay per term and if here for only one term should submit one 3,000 word essay in total.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor 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 by 1st August, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.

Examination: Re-examination takes place in August/September of the same year.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books: Catriona McKinnon, Robert Jubb and Patrick Tomlin Issues in Political Theory, Oxford University Press, 2014 (Fourth Edition). ISBN: 9780198784067, RRP: £32.99.

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: 4 April 2020


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