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:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Christoph Arndt

Email: c.arndt@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

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 extent that they are more capable of successfully undertaking research projects.

To build on existing experience by broadening students’ skills and knowledge of library and IT resources for finding and processing relevant research information and data.

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 select and use appropriate library and IT resources effectively in carrying out study and research tasks.

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:

  • Further exploration of library resources.

  • Lecture series introducing a number of research methods used in the study of Politics and International Relations. This series of lectures will be divided into three sections, each with a particular methodological focus:

i.Qualitative: for example, the logic of comparison, historical approaches, and content analysis 

ii.Quantitative, for example exploring relationships in data, and survey design

iii.Political theory, for example critical, interpretive, conceptual, and normative/evaluative approaches

  • 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 design a research question.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

 Students are required to:

  • attend a lecture and PC workshop on the use of online scholarly search tools, including library research resources;

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

  • attend a compulsory PC Lab tutorial on the use of a statistical software package.

The module employs a wide range of teaching and learning metho ds towards three themes.  All students are required to attend a library session in which they will be introduced to various research-based resources available on the internet and how to use them to best effect. Students must also complete three online assessments via Blackboard which will test their understanding of the methodologies introduced and discussed in the lecture series and workshops and their skill in applying these methodologies.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 17 2
Tutorials 1
Practicals classes and workshops 3
Guided independent study: 147 30
Total hours by term 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 40
Class test administered by School 60

Summative assessment- Examinations:
No examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Assessment 1: Test 1      20%

Assessment 2: Test 2      20%

Assessment 3: Test 3      20%

Assessment 4: 2000 word essay 40%

A test worth 20%, on the content of each of the three sections of the module, to be taken at the end of each section (adding up to 60% overall).

A 1500-word critical evaluation of how methods have been applied within a well-known/important piece of academic work, chosen by the co-convenors (worth 40%).  Students to choose whether they want to evaluate qualitative/quantitative/theoretical work.

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). 

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 on Blackboard within the published resubmission deadline.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books: Core Books

There is no set text for this module.

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: 11 August 2020


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