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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Contemporary Issues in Political Science (PLIT10104)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryContemporary Issues in International Relations takes a recent topic one emerging in the news or in the academic literature and provides students with the tools to situate it within the larger academic literature, the political context and methods of analysis.

This course examines the impact individual leaders can have on international relations. It focuses on how psychological characteristics of political leaders influence political processes and outcomes, particularly in foreign policy. Students will learn the standard arguments about the importance of leaders in international relations and the ways in which leaders' experiences, beliefs, and personalities affect their conduct of foreign policy and other behaviours important in international politics (such as international organizational leadership and multilateral negotiations). A theme of the course is how leaders' psychological traits interact with political contexts. While the focus is on theories, concepts and methods used to study world leaders generally, the course includes specific examples of leaders from around the world. This course will primarily run as a seminar, with minimal traditional lecture time. Students will conduct their own political personality profiles of leaders as part of the course assessment requirements.
Course description The substantive content of this course changes each year depending on topical issues and will be taught by experts on the issue itself or on particular approaches/methods from amongst permanent and postdoctoral staff. Students will learn substantive information about the topic itself but perhaps more importantly they will acquire the generic skills to analyse any phenomenon: how to place it within a larger context, where to look for information about context, the types of variables (whether social, economic, cultural, or political) to consider when analysing the phenomenon, how to identify wider theories and concepts to analyse the phenomenon and how to acquire evidence that would support one theoretical interpretation over another.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is only available to senior honours students on a Politics or International Relations (including joint honours) degree programme.
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will be able to demonstrate comprehensive understanding of contemporary debates on the chosen event, from both a theoretical and empirical perspective
  2. Students will have specialist in-depth knowledge of specific areas and issues in relation to the chosen event
  3. Students will be able to critically engage with key explanatory theories, concepts, institutions and issues in the study of the chosen event
  4. Students will be able to deploy and justify the use of case studies to deepen our understanding of political science
  5. Students will be able to engage in critical thinking, reflection and debate for academic and non-academic consumption.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical thinking and analysis
Effective written and verbal communication
Effective research and analytical skills
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Juliet Kaarbo
Tel: (0131 6)50 4252
Course secretaryMr Euan Morse
Tel: 0131 (6)51 1137
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