Analysing Political Worlds

Second year module

Lecturers: Dr Stephen Bates and Dr Laura Jenkins

This module uses classic and contemporary research about substantive political issues to introduce you to a range of key theories, concepts and debates within Political Science. The module thus allows you to consider a range of approaches to political analysis, to the nature and distribution of power, and to state-societal relations in the contemporary world. 

The module is structured in four sections. In the first section, you consider the foundations of political analysis, such as the scope of the political, the definition of human nature and its role in the study of politics, the scientific status of political enquiry, and the role of critique and emancipation within the discipline. The second section is concerned with explaining political change and, specifically, the role of structure, agency, ideas and power in political analysis. The third section introduces you to key approaches in contemporary political analysis – rational choice theory, new institutionalism and feminism – while the final section considers various strands of state theory.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Achieve a critical understanding of why the core of Political Science is contested and why the discipline is characterised by diversity and pluralism;
  • Display a familiarity with a range of contemporary approaches to political analysis and the study of the state;
  • Utilise particular theories and concepts in the analysis of substantive political issues.


  • Term One: 1 essay x 2,000 word assessed work (50%)
  • Term Three: Take home test (2000 words, submitted via Canvas) (50%)