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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Contemporary Political Theory: Engaging with Current Research (PGSP11448)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis is an innovative course on contemporary political theory that engages directly with cutting edge research. The course is structured around a series of seminars in which five prominent political theorists will be invited to present recent research. Students will be offered the opportunity to debate with the theorist in the class and in a more informal event after the class. The course will address the ethical dimension of urgent political issues such as war, migration, democracy, poverty, education and climate change and key concepts such as justice, freedom and equality. Students taking this course should be prepared to engage in theoretical reasoning and scholarly debate. From it, they will gain not only an understanding of the topics taught but also an insight into how political theorists conduct their research.
Course description The details of the course are as follows:
1. Seminar series.
Five prominent political theorists will be invited to present papers to the class. To ensure value for money, we expect that most of the theorists will be from nearby universities. This not a problem as the UK is one of the best places in the world for political theory. Students will read the paper ahead of class. At the start of each seminar, a number of students will present their critical reflections to the paper. This will set the basis for further debate. To maintain the format of a seminar, the class will be capped at 20 students.

2. Preparatory classes:
In the week before each seminar, the class will read relevant literature that offers an overview of the topic so that the students can gain the necessary knowledge with which to approach the visiting theorist's work. The preparatory classes will follow a more traditional teaching format. The students will enjoy the guidance of the course convenor, who will help them achieve a better understanding of the topic and allow them to explore their own views and arguments. Students will also begin the process of drawing up relevant questions to consider ahead of the seminar with the theorist. The aim is that, after this preparatory class, students will have a grounding in the topic so that they are able to engage in constructive and well-reasoned debate with the visiting theorist in the following week.

3. Publication and Online Debate (Learn)
For assessment, students will be asked to write a short article summarising one of the papers and a longer response article. High quality response articles will be sent to the political theorist in question with the invitation for the theorist to respond either in correspondence with the student or in a comments section on the website.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand, from direct experience, the process of debate, discussion and critique through which political theorists develop their research.
  2. Identify key concepts, arguments, debates, traditions and thinkers in political theory.
  3. Communicate complex theoretical ideas clearly and accurately to a range of audiences including established scholars, peers and a non-specialist audience.
  4. Critically analyse a text in political theory for its internal consistency and strength of argumentation.
  5. Develop original lines of argument, objection and response in relation to a text.
Reading List
Useful background reading for the course includes:

The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory edited by John S. Dryzek, Bonnie Honig, and Anne Phillips
Pascalian Meditations by Pierre Bourdieu
Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race by Charles Mills
Frames of War by Judith Butler

Readings for particular weeks will be chosen on the basis of the topics covered.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Mihaela Mihai
Tel: (0131 6)51 3060
Course secretaryMrs Casey Behringer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2456
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