Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Dawn Clarke

Email: d.clarke@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module aims to provide students with a good basic understanding of the nature of political institutions and ideologies and assist them to develop the ability to interpret and analyse political information and evaluate arguments.

This module aims to provide students with a good basic understanding of the nature of political institutions, concepts and ideologies and assist them to develop the ability to interpret and analyse political information and evaluate arguments.

Assessable learning outcomes:
1.Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of basic political concepts such as Freedom, Democracy, Nation, the State, Legitimacy, Power and Authority among others. Students will be able to show a sound knowledge of key thinkers, key ideas and explanatory models.
2.Demonstrate sound knowledge and understanding of the key thinkers and key ideas of a range of political ideologies such as Liberalism, Socialism, Marxism, Anarchism, Conservatism, Fascism and Feminism. Students will know how these ideologies were formed and how they developed over time, and how they can assess their strengths and weaknesses.
3.Understand the role of modern ideologies such as Religious Fundamentalism and Environmentalism . Students will be able to link the growth of these ideologies to changes in the modern world, such as globalisation.
4.Show good knowledge and understanding of a range of structures and institutions such as the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, together with the military and the police. Students will be able show a sound understanding of the roles and functions of these institutions.
5.Understand the functioning of the mass media, political culture and political socialisation in order to understand political behaviour.
6.Show a sound knowledge of the major theories which explain global politics, such as Idealism, Realism, Pluralism and Marxism, and know the difference between Bipolarity and Unipolarity, as well as being able to understand such issues as the Cold War and the ‘war on terror’.
7.Be able to compare the British political system with that of the USA.
8.Be able to understand the historical development of political institutions, political processes and political ideologies.
9.Be able to link this knowledge globally to other countries and other political systems.
10.Demonstrate the skills of evaluation, analysis and synthesis and show an ability to present a critical argument with relevance, clarity and coherence.

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims to encourage the development of an acceptable level of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Students will also develop their IT skills in presenting their work and in searching IT sources for information.

Outline content:
Content is indicative and may be subject to minor changes:
The module consists of two main themes: Politics A – Political concepts, ideologies and political behaviour.
Politics B – Political Institutions.
Politics A is about fundamental political concepts and approaches to the study of politics. The major political ideologies: liberalism, conservatism, socialism (including Marxism) are studied, together with range of newer ideologies such as feminism, fascism, religious fundamentalism and environmentalism. A fundamental concern is the critical examination of the meaning and usage of key concepts such as politics, democracy, the state, nations and nationalism, power and authority, law, legitimacy and freedom. In addition, the module examines the role of political culture and the mass media on political attitudes and political behaviour. This part of the module also examines the effect of globalisation on politics and political behaviour including such topics as the Cold War and the ‘War on Terror’.
Politics B - Is about political institutions and political processes. Through an in-depth analysis of the political institutions of the United Kingdom and the USA, it introduces students to political systems by examination of such central themes as constitutional government, legislative-executive relations and the judicial process, together with the role played by the military and the police.

Global context:
The module is comparative, and allows students to apply their knowledge of political ideologies and concepts to a range of different countries, including their own. The section on political institutions compares Britain and the USA, but also makes links, where necessary to the political institutions of other countries. Students are encouraged throughout the module to include global examples in both classroom discussions, and coursework and examination answers.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures based on printed notes, question and answer discussions.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 44 44 20
Seminars 11 11 5
Tutorials 11 11 5
Guided independent study 98 98 42
Total hours by term 164.00 164.00 72.00
Total hours for module 400.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 40
Class test administered by School 10

Other information on summative assessment:
Two written assignments, and two end of term class tests in December and March.

Formative assessment methods:
Classroom discussions, MCQ tests and short tests during the year.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (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.

    Length of examination:
    Two three-hour examinations in June.

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Two 3 hour examinations in August / September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    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: 6 April 2017

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