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Unit information: Approaches to the study of Political Science in 2016/17

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Unit name Approaches to the study of Political Science
Unit code POLI11104
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Wickham-Jones
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 provides an introduction to different approaches to the study of political science. It will begin by offering some sort of overview of the core concepts in political science and of their development over the last fifty or so years. It will go to examine a number of different approaches such as behaviouralism, rational choice, and materialism. It will look at critical perspectives and more recent developments. The focus of the unit will be theoretical and conceptual; empirical examples will come from a range of sources. The unit will conclude by considering what is the relevance of political science.


  • To introduce students to the development of political science as a discipline;
  • To introduce students to various approaches to the study of political science;
  • To demonstrate the difference between various approaches in the study of political science;
  • To encourage students to understand the relevance of different approaches.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. An awareness of the different approaches to the study of politics, including some of the key tools and frameworks used by political scientists;
  2. An awareness of the possibilities of using political approaches and tools in the explanation of political phenomena;
  3. The capacity to think critically about political issues;
  4. The ability to evaluate different approaches.

Teaching Information

2 x 1hr lecture and 1hr seminar

Assessment Information

Formative assessment:

One essay of between 1,500 and 2,000 words.

Assessment for classification and progression:

POLI 11104 is examined in a single three hour written examination. Students write four answers . The exam will assess learning outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Reading and References

David Marsh and Gerry Stoker (eds.), Theory and Methods in Political Science, 2nd edition, Basingstoke: Palgrave.