Developments in Contemporary Political Analysis

School: School of Government
Department of Political Science and International Studies

Modular value: 20 credits
Duration: Term long 
Contact Hours: 3 hours per week

Lecturers: Mark Goodwin

The discipline of Political Science, including International Relations and International Political Economy, is an essentially contested field, characterised by a plurality of approaches to analysing politics and political change, whether at the local, national or international level.

The purpose of this module is to allow you to understand the sources of this plurality and contestation, to locate yourself within Political Science, and to consider the merits and limitations of different forms of political analysis. This is achieved through the adoption of a ‘reading group’ format for the seminars which then allows you to engage directly with recent cutting-edge scholarship on a range of important conceptual and theoretical debates and controversies within the discipline. In particular, you will consider:

  • The boundaries of the discipline;
  • The sources of political change;
  • The nature and distribution of power within contemporary political systems; and
  • The (changing) relationship between state and society.

In so doing, you will be encouraged to relate such debates and controversies both to the research process and to substantive political issues in order to reflect upon their wider implications for your own research interests.

Course Outline:

  • Introduction
  • The Discipline of Political Science
  • Power
  • Structure and Agency
  • Ideas
  • Rational Choice Theory
  • New Institutionalism
  • Feminism
  • Theories of the State (I)
  • Theories of the State (II)


  • 1 x 4,000-word critical review 90%,
  • Contribution to seminar discussions throughout module (10%)

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.