Politics and the State

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

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

Lecturer: Professor Peter Burnham

The module provides an MA level introduction to state theory, historical sociology as applied to the state and issues surrounding the contemporary political restructuring of the state.

After a brief review of analytical approaches to capitalism we will analyse the rise of the modern state in the context of the crisis of European feudalism. We will then look in depth at theories of the capitalist state before analysing how these theories underpin modern forms of politics (in particular, liberal market and social democratic approaches to rule).

The last section of the module looks at the contemporary international state system and considers contemporary challenges to the state, as the principal form of political organisation. After reviewing the literature on the impact of economic globalisation on the state, we consider popular resistance to the state, and raise the question of whether new forms of politics are rendering the national form of the state redundant?

By the end of the module it is expected that you will be able to:

  • contribute to sophisticated debates on the nature of the state in political science and historical sociology
  • analyse conceptions of the state that underpin political strategies in Britain today
  • demonstrate an ability to apply established methods of research and enquiry appropriate to the analysis of the restructuring of the contemporary state


  • Term one 1 x 5000 word essay 100%

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.