How Politics and IR count
There are many indicators in Politics and IR that try to express in numerical form some information about countries. Similar to University league tables, such indicators allow us to compare for instance how well particular countries have accomplished specific goals (Human development index, gender development index, etc.) or to judge the quality of their institutions (Varieties of Democracy, Freedom House, etc.). But what is an indicator, how are these compiled and above all, by whom? In this module you will become acquainted with the purpose of quantification, its pitfalls, and advantages. We will discuss what data is, what to watch out for in measurement, and explore public opinions surveys and the use of social media such as twitter in data generation. By the end of the module you will know how to summarize data, interpret data in tabular and graphical form and have gained a solid understanding of the most common data used by governments, international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank, and scholars to analyze questions in human development, comparative politics, conflict studies and international relations. Hence, at the end of the module you will feel more comfortable around numbers and will be a knowledgeable and confident consumer of numerical information.
Elections and Voting
This module introduces students to one of the central concerns of politics scholars: the systematic study of elections. The module begins with an examination of competing theoretical conceptions of the role that elections play in a democratic political system. With this theoretical framework established, the module guides students through a rich literature that seeks to explain how elections play out in established democracies. Students are introduced to several approaches to explaining voter behaviour, including: party identification; socio-cultural explanations; rational choice theory; retrospective economic voting; issue voting/issue ownership; leadership effects; and strategic voting. Students will be encouraged to evaluate both the conceptual coherence of these theories and the evidence on which they are based. This exploration of voter behaviour is complimented by analyses of contemporary election campaigns in the United Kingdom, the United States and other established democracies, where recent developments in the media environment have transformed voter-party communications.
Subject to the approval of the Departmental Dissertations Tutor, students will choose their own area for research. They will be given guidance on research skills and techniques and supervised by a specialist research topic supervisor during the research for, and writing of, their dissertation. Dissertation word length - 8000 words.
Researching Politics 1
This module offers students a valuable experience of both individual and collective research as well as the opportunity to study in depth an important aspect of Politics and International Relations. After an introductory session students will work in small groups pursuing research into a specific topic using a wide variety of source materials under the guidance of a member of staff with appropriate specialist knowledge and expertise.
Researching Politics 2 (PO-327)
This module offers students a valuable experience of both individual and collective research - as well as the opportunity to study in depth an important aspect of Politics and International Relations. Students extend and deepen the research undertaken in PO-396 Researching Politics 1 and continue to meet regularly in order to share ideas, opinions and sources. In these meetings, students evaluate, criticise and analyse issues concerning the topic under investigation. Minutes of the meetings are kept and the meetings are conducted with a view to arriving at a common position that will serve as the basis for producing a collectively authored report and presentation. Each student in the group also produces a shorter individual report on their own experience of Researching Politics, in the course of which they reflect on their individual contribution to the groups output. This self-assessment is validated by the other members of the group.
Individual research based, under the guidance of appointed supervisor.
Conceptual Issues In the Theory and Practice of Social Sciences
This module introduces MA students to philosophical and methodological issues relating to the possibilities, purpose and conduct of the social sciences. These issues are of great importance for the development of thinking about how to study political theory, political science or international relations. The intellectual reflection demanded by this module will feed into students¿ approaches to their work in the sub-disciplinary modules and dissertation.
Governance, Globalization and Neoliberal Political Economy
In recent decades, many theorists of governance, the state and international relations have been discussing the `de-centering¿ and `hollowing out¿ of the state, as tasks previously performed by `national¿ governments have been taken up by or shared with a wide range of other actors or tiers of governance. These have included international associations or organizations such as the European Union, NAFTA, Mercosur, the UN, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the major `international financial institutions¿ (the IMF, the World Bank, and the various regional development banks), as well as corporations and other organizations in the private and financial sectors. In addition, new forms of governance have emerged, which have greatly changed the way in which rules, institutions and democracy are understood, interpreted and implemented.
What have been the reasons for these changes? Are they inevitable? What are the factors at play in the shift from `government¿ to `governance¿? And how transparent, participatory, accountable and democratic are the emerging or evolving forms of governance?
These are amongst the key questions addressed in this module, which will induct students into the study of governance and political participation and accountability at four main levels: national, subnational, macro-regional, and global. It will also examine the emergence and evolution of distinctive patterns of governance in various parts of the world. Students will be familiarized with key theories, issues and debates concerning the state, political economy, and emerging or evolving forms of governance, and with various ways in which older forms and conceptions of politics and democratic participation, transparency and accountability are being challenged and/or transformed in these changing environments.