Module Details

GV909-7-FY-CO: Research Seminar In Political Theory And Methods

Year: 2016/17
Department: Government
Essex credit: 30
ECTS credit: 15
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: Yes
Outside Option: No

Staff
Supervisor: James Christensen and Tom Parr
Teaching Staff: James Christensen and Tom Parr
Contact details: James Christensen (james.christensen@essex.ac.uk) and Tom Parr (tparr@essex.ac.uk) Graduate Administrator Alex West awestb@essex.ac.uk

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This module aims to introduce and evaluate a variety of approaches to political theory, focusing in particular on normative and analytic approaches. It aims to provide a critical overview of different political philosophies; and to consider a range of methods and research strategies for those embarking upon graduate study in political theory and analysis, broadly construed.

Learning and Teaching Methods

The teaching is structured in weekly two-hour seminars. Members of the seminar are expected to attend on a weekly basis, and be prepared to discuss the essential texts in the seminars.

On completing this research seminar, a student ought to have a good understanding of central methodological debates in political philosophy; be familiar with key issues and methods in conducting political theoretical research at a graduate level; be familiar with the key methodological assumptions and debates in political theory and analysis; and be in a position to develop and execute an advanced research project in this field, including a masters dissertation.

Assessment

100 per cent Coursework Mark

Coursework

Two 5,000 word essays worth 50% each.

Other information

Aims:
1. It introduces a range of ideas and concepts in political theory.
2. It engages students in a series of close textual readings of selected essays, books and articles, with the aim of elucidating key methodological approaches.
3. It examines a number of central methodological debates in political theory.
4. It equips students with the skills to develop and execute a Masters Research Dissertation in political theory.

Objectives:
1. To give students the ability to understand the methodological underpinnings of academic research.
2. To enable students to place political theory in the wider context of the social sciences.

Learning Outcomes:
1. To understand the methodological dimensions of various approaches of political theory.
2. To introduce students to major schools of thought within contemporary political theorists.

Key Skills:
1. Students will learn how: to identify the premises and conclusions of arguments; to determine whether the conclusions follow from the premises; and to understand the practical implications of theory.
2. Students will learn: to apply reason to controversial issues; to read texts critically; to prepare well-argued essays; to learn both self-confidence and the ability to learn from others.

Bibliography

  • There is no single textbook that covers all the topics examined in the seminar, although texts that tap into key themes of the module include:
  • D. Leopold and M. Stears (eds) Contemporary Political Theory: Methods and Approaches (Oxford University Press, 2008).
  • The following academic journals, which are available in the library, are often useful: History of Political Thought; Journal of Political Ideologies; Journal of Political Philosophy; Ethics; New Left Review; Philosophy and Public Affairs; Political Studies; Political Theory; Politics, Philosophy & Economics; Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy; British Journal of Political Science.

Further information

External Examiner Information

  • Name: Prof Moya Lloyd
    Institution: Loughborough University
    Academic Role: Professor of Political Theory