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

Undergraduate Course: Contemporary Issues in Political Theory (PLIT10107)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryContemporary Issues in Political Theory takes a recent topic, one emerging in the news or in the academic literature, and provides students with the tools to identify the normative issues it raises and to analyse these using rigorous methods of political theory.
Course description For 2019-20, the theme will be education and social justice. Education is one of the most significant social institutions and is central to concerns with social justice. This course will address important ethical questions regarding the appropriate relationship between education and social justice. It will be organised to address major educational institutions such as schools, universities, and the work place. We will consider questions such as: does justice demand educational equality? Who should pay for university education? Is it legitimate for parents to help their children learn if this gives some children additional educational advantages? What is the appropriate relationship between democracy and education? Is selection ever justified in schools? Is marketization of education through vouchers unjust, or are just school voucher schemes possible? What justifies selection in university admissions? Are faith schools justified? Under what circumstances should home schooling be permitted? Should children be prevented from working and compelled to attend school, or should work be a form of education?
Students will be introduced to a comprehensive range of theories and debates in moral and political philosophy that address issues of education and social justice at the domestic, international, and global level. The course will relate theoretical debates regarding education and social justice to concrete cases and policies in order to demonstrate the importance of rigorous ethical understanding in the evaluation of education policy. Concrete cases will include Charter Schools, faith schools, university fees and loans, selective schools such as grammar schools, and other relevant examples.

The course will be taught as a two-hour seminar involving a mixture of student presentations, debates, and large or small group discussion, facilitated and chaired by the convenor. Required and optional political philosophy reading is indicated for each session alongside relevant case studies.

Written feedback will be provided on assessed work, verbal feedback on presentations and debates, and commentary on discussion in class. The convenor will provide advice in class on structuring, planning, and writing a good political theory essay, and will be available during feedback and guidance hours for further discussion.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have not taken Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World (PLIT08012), but have taken a similar course, should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Section for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Critical Response: 30% 1,500 words
This short-form essay will require students to address one theory/approach/concept and consider its moral implications for education policy. The discussion could be largely theoretical (such as the principled justifications meritocracy in education) or more applied case-study analysis where an educational policy (such as loans for University student fees) is selected for evaluation from the point of view of a particular normative theory/approach/concept.

Long essay: 70%, 3,000 words
Students will be asked to write an academic essay from a list of pre-assigned topics, or on a topic of their own choice with the prior approval of the course convenor.

Feedback Students will be offered advice and feedback on their workplans/outlines in preparation for the essay, which they may obtain on request. This feedback and guidance will be provided during the course convenors weekly office hours and by appointment. Students will be given feedback on the essay, which will be due in week 7 and feedback will be given on essay plans submitted 1-2 weeks in advance. Feedback on tutorial participation will be provided through an individual Tutorial Participation feedback sheet, which will be given to the students after the final tutorial.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will be able to demonstrate empirically-informed understanding of contemporary debates on the chosen topic from a relevant range of normative perspectives
  2. Students will have specialist in-depth knowledge of specific areas and issues in relation to the chosen topic
  3. Students will be able to critically engage with key theories, concepts, and arguments in the study of the chosen normative issue.
  4. Students will acquire effective communications skills, both written and verbal, to provide clear and concise analysis of the topic and arguments at hand
  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
Team work
Effective written and verbal communication
Effective research and analytical skills
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Philip Cook
Tel: (0131 6)51 1577
Course secretaryMr John Riddell
Tel: (0131 6)50 9975
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