PIR-10038 - Why Politics Matters
Coordinator: Brian Doherty Room: CBB2.028 Tel: +44 1782 7 34176
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 4
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2024/25


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2024/25

This module provides an introduction to politics that strips it back to its essentials. We examine the core debates in the subject and show why argument and disagreement are perennial features of modern politics but also why politics is an integral feature of modern societies.
Core questions in the first part of the module include - where does politics happen? Is it only about government, or can it also include politics in our daily lives, such as who looks after the children? Are we under the thumb of a ruling elite or does democracy mean that power is diffused widely in society? If democracy was the greatest political achievement of the twentieth century, is it now in trouble? Are people now more disenchanted with politics and are politicians less honest and more corrupt than they used to be? Has the state interfered too much in our lives or should government being doing more? What makes a good citizen and does being a good citizen include saying no to governments on occasion? There are no easy or universally-agreed answers to these questions, but trying to answer them will help you understand the forces that shape the world you live in, the choices that you have about how to live your life, and you will also learn how mere opinions do not make good political arguments.
In the second part of the module you will deepen your understanding of the role of conflicting values in politics by working in a small group to understand how a contemporary political issue can be seen differently by different ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism and socialism. Even if you don't think of yourself as political, you will learn how you take political decisions and express political views routinely This module will allow you to understand why politics and your role in it matters.
The module structure is based on whole group lectures and weekly seminars. You will study a workbook of readings and complete a range of tasks that will help you prepare for the seminars, write your essay and prepare for a small group presentation to the rest of your seminar group. You will receive guidance on how to build up a portfolio of research notes from lectures and reading and you will receive feedback on three pieces of assessed work.

1. To provide an engaging introduction to the academic study of politics, with a focus on its essential contestability, which does not repeat the standard A-Level Politics curriculum.
2. To inculcate core study and employability skills and to serve as an induction for students into how politics is studied in universities.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes


Study hours

10 hours attendance at lectures
11 hours attendance at seminars
Reading and preparation of lecture, seminar and reading notes portfolio - 39 hours
Other preparation for seminars 20 hours
Preparation of group presentation, including research - 30 hours
Researching and writing of essay - 40 hours

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Group Presentation weighted 40%
Team of four or five presents for 20-25 minutes
The presentation will be to the rest of the seminar group and the tutor. It is expected that it will involve audio-visual materials, which will also be submitted to the tutor. Each group will research a different ideology, choosing from a list.

2: Essay weighted 60%
1,500 word essay
An essay based on the core themes of the module.