The aim of this module is to provide first-year students with a grasp of the main conceptual approaches, schools, methods, and sub-disciplines in Politics. All the course contents are framed and taught with reference to contemporary European politics and political systems. The module gives students the toolkit and ability to problematise and reflect critically on common-sense assumptions and understandings of political institutions and processes, and provides a foundation for the analytical skills they will require in subsequent years of the European Studies/Politics degrees or the Liberal Arts programme.
The first semester will cover the nature of politics and power; some of the key concepts, categories and debates in political science, the key approaches to the study of politics and the key perspectives in international relations/international political economy. The second part of this module will introduce students to the key issues in comparative politics.
The module focuses on institutions, processes and political actors in modern Europe. While most of the course will be devoted to discussing political developments in Western Europe, both Eastern Europe and the EU political system will also be considered.
*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.
One 3,000 word essay (50%) and one 3-hour examination (50%). A practice essay could be submitted to the tutors by the reading week in semester 1
1-hour lecture and 1-hour seminar, weekly
Indicative Teaching Schedule
Semester 1 - Politics: Concepts, Approaches and Methods
- Introduction – Politics: A Contested Terrain
- Power: a Key Concept
- The State as a Political and Constitutional Form
- Democracy and its Critics
- Political Ideologies
Reading Week (no classes)
- Freedom and Justice
- The International System of States
- Critical Approaches to Global Politics
- Globalization and International Political Economy
- An Introduction to Research Methods
Semester 2 - Comparative Politics: Institutions, Actors and Processes
- Introduction – Comparing political systems
- Varieties of Democracy
- Executives & Legislatures
- Voting behaviour (I): electoral systems
- Voting behaviour (II): referendums
Reading Week (no classes)
- Party systems
- Political parties
- Interest groups
- Youth and Politics
- Representation of women and minorities in Western Europe
Suggested reading list
Garner, R.; Ferdinand, P. and S. Lawson (2016) Introduction to Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 3rd ed.
For the first part of the module, this is also an excellent textbook – although not always easy to read:
- Marsh, D. and Stoker, G. (2010) Theories and Methods in Political Science (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan) 3rd ed.
For the second part of the module, you may want to look at:
- Caramani, D. (ed.) (2017) Comparative Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 4th edition