Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The State from Babylon to Brussels
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 16 Hours (16 x 1 hour)
Seminars / Tutorials 8 Hours (8 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,000 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,000 word essay  25%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,000 word essay, if essay element failed  25%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,000 word essay, if essay element failed  25%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay in lieu of exam, if exam element failed  50%

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate an in-depth and systematic understanding of the concept of the state and various understandings of its origin and applicability.
2. Demonstrate a good knowledge of the reasons for the development of states, including an awareness of such subjects as economic development, nationalism, imperialism, military conquest, and settler societies.
3. Demonstrate the critical awareness to undertake the analysis of complex issues pertaining to the module, and to synthesise and structure analytical material logically, using knowledge and processes from the forefront of the field.
4. Professionally engage in academic communication by defining an issue, presenting its ramifications effectively, engaging an audience through speech and with audio-visual means, and responding effectively to questions;
5. Use a level of conceptual and theoretical understanding that will allow them to critically evaluate (and apply) theory to a particular world order problem and hypothesise on alternative approaches.
6. Critically engage with apply research and presentational skills to complex issues in global governance autonomously.

Brief description

This module aims to trace notions of the state from ancient history to the present. This allows the module to explore the historical evolution of the state and provide students with an appreciation of the diversity of state forms which have emerged over the centuries. By exploring non-European and past understandings of the state the module also seeks to challenge Eurocentric notions of political community and encourage questioning of the applicability of 'statehood' in diverse geographical contexts. Examples used may include ancient Babylon, the Greek city states, various stages in Chinese history, and the development of the European 'nation-state'.

As a means of evaluating the state itself, the module will pay considerable attention to processes of and reasons for state formation. This encourages exploration of further themes such as economic development, nationalism, and the impact of military conquest and occupation on a territory’s subsequent political structures.


Lecture Schedule
1. Introduction: Module Overview
2. Defining the state
3. The state in prehistory
4. Video lecture based on episode of Ancient Worlds by BBC & Richard Miles
5. The city state 1: the Greeks
6. The city state 2: Renaissance Italy
7. The state outside Europe
8. Alternative forms of political organization
9. The state and the nation
10. The state and the economy
11. The state and military conquest
12. Colonialism and the state
13. The state and the population
14. The state in the early twenty-first century
15. Conclusion
16. Exam Preparation

Seminar Schedule
1. Defining the state
2. The prehistoric state
3. The city states
4. Political order in non-European societies
5. The development of the nation state
6. The state and conquest
7. The contemporary state


The module adds to the teaching programme of the Department, the Coleg Cenedlaethol and, potentially, the new Institute by providing a sustained focus on the historical development of the state. In so doing the module provides a historical context to many of the contemporary debates in International Relations.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to how to present their arguments most effectively. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. This module will particularly test aural and oral communication skills as it involves assessed seminar performance. Students will also be required to submit their essays in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework and presentation topics. The need to prepare for assessed seminar participation and to meet coursework deadlines will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of two essays and preparation for seminar discussions will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for all elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing media and web sources, as well as more conventional academic texts. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather appropriate and interesting resources materials.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: * Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module * Evaluate competing perspectives * Demonstrate subject specific research techniques Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary political problems.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. For many of the topics of this module, seminars will consist of small-group discussions where students will be asked to discuss as a group the core issues related to the seminar topic. These class discussions and debates form a significant part of the module, and will allow students to approach and examine a given topic through team work.


This module is at CQFW Level 6