PO2THI1-Political Thinking

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

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 theory;

  • identify examples of such concepts and approaches within key texts in contemporary political theory;

  • make comparisons between those texts;

  • apply the concepts and theories studied to the analysis of modern problems;

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

Additional outcomes:

The module aims to develop the capacity for independent study; the ability to think critically about political problems and theories and to be sensitive to the complexities and ambiguities of difficult texts; and the ability 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:

Lectures and one hour seminars requiring preparatory reading and preparation of answers to case study problems.  Preparatory work will form the basis for group exercises and discussions during the seminars.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 7
Seminars 7
Guided independent study: 86
Total hours by term 100
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

There is no examination for this module.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will write one 4,000 word essay. Non-submitted essays will be awarded a mark of zero. This will account for 100% of the module mark. 

Formative assessment methods:

Seminar discussion and group exercises.

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:

Overall pass mark of 40%.

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 specified deadline.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

  1. Required text books - £27.99

The textbook for this course is Issues in Political Theory, Catriona McKinnon (OUP, 2014: ISBN 9780199680436

Last updated: 11 August 2020


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