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Unit information: Post-Modern Political Theories in 2015/16

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Unit name Post-Modern Political Theories
Unit code POLI31367
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Carver
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit distinguishes between postmodernity and postmodernism, taking the latter to be a 'way of looking at the world'. This will be explained and explored in informal lectures, focused reading, class discussion and questions, student presentations, and engagement with current politics. Students will be expected to apply insights developed in the unit to areas of special interest such as party politics, gender politics, international relations, political economy, and public policy. This will require self-directed reading and news-following.


  1. To familiarise students with the philosophical ideas ascribed to postmodernism
  2. To help students to apply these insights to the analysis of political issues
  3. To help students develop an awareness of postmodern concerns with power
  4. To familiarise students with the political importance of visual media
  5. To enable students to read politics from films and to read politics into films

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Thorough knowledge of postmodernism as a 'way of looking at the world'
  2. Ability to deploy postmodern conceptions of 'reading', 'boundaries', appearance, representation, metaphor and power
  3. Ability to use the postmodern linkage between genre and knowledge
  4. Ability to communicate political ideas through visual framing and illustration

Teaching Information

3 hr seminar

Assessment Information

  • Book review (25%)
  • Issue analysis (75%)

Issue analysis:

Analysis of current political issue of your choice. This must be between 1500 and 2000 words.

Students to write in an objective and analytical style, setting out the historical and political background to their chosen issue, reviewing opinion and commentary very briefly, and then offering their own analysis as to how it should be viewed and understood by a thoughtful person. They do NOT need an ‘argument’; rather they should draw conclusions as they emerge from their analysis. They should include visual framing to draw the reader in and illustration to make their points. Marking will be 50/50 between ideas (such as we have been discussing in the seminars) and analysis.

Book review:

Completion of an individually written ‘Book Review.’ This must be between 1500 and 2000 words.

Students should write as if for publication in The New Yorker, Sight & Sound or similar journal or on-line format which takes lengthy ‘thoughtful’ reviews. Students MUST state what journal or medium they are writing for. Students should draw out the ideas in the novel and link them to the politics of the present, doing their own original research on issues.

Marking will be 50/50 between ideas (such as we have been discussing in the seminars) and politics (their choice from reliable media and academic sources – but it must be recent politics).

The book review assesses the achievement of learning outcomes 1, 2 and 3. The issue analysis assesses the achievement of learning outcomes 1, 2 and 4.

Reading and References

  • Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Also published under the title Blade Runner) (Gollancz 1999). PS3554.128.D6 (SLC)

Required films on DVD in the library

  • Purple Rose of Cairo (Woody Allen)
  • Dark Star (John Carpenter)
  • Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven)

Other reading:

  • Christopher Falzon, Philosophy Goes to the Movies.
  • Adam Roberts, Science Fiction.
  • Sara Mills, Discourse, 2nd edn.
  • David Howarth, Discourse.