Module Identifier IP10220  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Charlotte J Burns  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Charlotte J Burns  
Mutually Exclusive GW11220  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours (20 x 1 hour)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   8 Hours (8 x 1 hour)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  70%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  30%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

On completion of the modules, students will be able to:

- Identify and assess key differences in the foundations to the state; in the different conceptions of human nature and conduct within the political sphere; and in different approaches to the study of politics.
- Analyse both the linkages between the state and the nation, and their political significance
- Describe the structure, processes and functions of a political system with a view to making comparisons between states; distinguishing regime types; and defining the dynamics of system maintenance and change.
- Demonstrate a grasp of the problematic nature of politics and its relationship to power, rule, authority, legitimacy and obligation
- Assess the different forms of participation and communication within systems; and to examine the relationship between political input and policy outcomes.
- Examine and critically evaluate selected classical debates within political life; and discuss the significance of new developments, issues and challenges within the liberal democratic norm.
- Effectively deploy skills of: identification and location of appropriate sources; independent study; writing (essays and examinations); IT skills plus time-management.

10 ECTS credits

Brief description

The module provides an introduction to the varied forms and dynamics of political organisation, behaviour and thought; to the different approaches to the study of politics; and to the disputed nature of power.


The module aims to provide an introduction to the study and analysis of political activity and its relationship to ideas, institutions, processes, structures and values. It will equip students with a variety of analytical instruments that will enable them to examine the interrelationships between political thought, ideology and traditions on the one hand, and government organisation, political systems and policy formulation on the other. The course will enable students i) to identify key concepts and issues in the study of politics; ii) to discuss the nature of conflict and power; iii) to illustrate the dynamics of political systems; and iv) to show how ideas influence political premises and behaviour.


After giving an initial grounding into the general conceptions of politics and power, the course examines selected theoretical approaches to the origins of the state, the constituent properties of human nature and the meaning and extent of political obligation. This is followed by an analysis of freedom, equality and nationalism, together with their relationships to the state and to the conduct and language of political exchange. Close attention will be given to the causes and consequences of the liberal democratic norm. The course then moves on to give close attention to the theme of political systems and in particular to an examination of their structures, process and functions. The following elements will feature - constitutions, courts, legislatures, executives, elections, parties and policy making. The next section addresses the themes of political systems under strain. It will cover the difficulties of creating stable political systems in emergent nations, the challenges presented by authoritarian regimes and corruption, and the problems generated by state overreach and, in the past, by totalitarian ideology. The final section will address the significance of new ideas (e.g. feminism, green thought), new issues (citizenship, regional integration) and new developments (e.g. new social movements, e-democracy) to the maintenance and validity of the liberal democratic norm.

Transferable skills

Students will have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of transferable skills which will help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas. They will be encouraged to acquire information and to relate it to specific tasks. Throughout the course, students should practice and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills, as well as their basic numeracy and self-management skills. In lectures, students will develop listening and note taking skills, as well as analytical skills. In seminars students will enhance their analytical skills. They will practice listening, explaining and debating skills, as well as team work and problem solving. Essay writing will encourage students to practice their independent research, writing and IT skills, and the examination will test these skills under time constraint conditions.

Reading Lists

Andrew Heywood (2002) Politics 2nd. Palgrave
Rod Hague and Martin Harrop (2002) Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction Longman
Peter Calvert (1995) Comparative Politics: An Introduction 2nd. Harvester Wheatsheaf


This module is at CQFW Level 4