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

Postgraduate Course: The Politics and Governance of Crisis (PGSP11616)

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
Summary'Crisis' is a ubiquitous concept in political discourse and is typically used in a wide range of national and global contexts and in relation to multiple issue areas. This course offers a forum for deep and advanced reflection on what we mean by crises, why they happen and how political actors and mass publics come to understand particular constellations of events as crises. Using a mixture of conceptual and case-based work (examining, for example, financial, security, public health, environmental, migration and cyber crises), the course further considers how crises are governed and whether we are living through a distinctive period of emergency governance in the age of a pluri-crisis
Course description Academic description:
This course interrogates the concept of crisis, examines the ways in which social scientists have sought to define, conceptualise and analyse the causes and consequences of crises past and present. It does so through a range of disciplinary lenses and via range of theoretical perspectives. It asks how and why politicians, policy-makers and mass publics come to understand particular events as crises and whether crises display historically predictable patterns. The course considers crisis in relation to a series of associated concepts such as risk and uncertainly, discusses the ways in which policy actors seek to manage and govern crises and asks whether the current period of so-called pluri-crisis is characterised by emergency governance at both national and international levels. The course works, via student-led sessions, with several concrete cases of crisis and their governance to allow students to deepen their understanding of conceptual content.

Outline content:
The following is an indicative list of key themes to be covered by the course. This is a tentative outline that may vary year-by-year, not least because new cases are likely to be introduced.

- Introduction: the age of the pluri-crisis?;

- What is a crisis? Conceptualising crisis, uncertainty and risk;

- Why do crises happen? Competing theoretical explanations;

- When do crises occur? The lessons of history;

- Reflecting on crises past and present: case-based presentations (student-led). Cases may include: Asset bubbles, the countdown to global conflicts, cyber-(in)security, pandemics, constitutional breakdown/secession, anthropogenic climate change, hyper-inflation, democratic backsliding.

- How are crises governed? The rise of emergency governance at national and international level

Student learning experience:
The course will be taught in a weekly two-hour block, which will feature a mixture of mini-lectures, small group exercises and plenary discussions. Up to two sessions in mid-semester will be devoted to group presentations on a diverse set of crisis cases. All teaching sessions will be interactive and driven by an ethos of active learning. Discussion will be driven by weekly assigned readings and students will be encouraged, including as part of their assessment, to actively reflect on their learning.
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
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Research essay (3000 words): 60%

Group presentation 20%

Reflection paper on the group presentation as a learning exercise and on their own learning on the course (1000 words): 20%
Feedback Feedback on all assessed work shall normally be returned within three weeks of submission. Where this is not possible, students shall be given clear expectations regarding the timing and methods of feedback. The research essay will be returned before the deadline for the reflection paper, thereby ensuring a formative element to the feedback, which in turn will inform students' work on the latter exercise.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an advanced critical understanding of the concept of crisis and the ways it has been used across a range of scholarly literatures
  2. Analyse historical and contemporary cases of crises through appropriate theoretical lenses
  3. Work collaboratively with their peers to present knowledge in formal and informal settings
  4. Actively, consciously and systematically reflect on their own learning
Reading List
Aliber, R.Z. and Kindleberger, C.P. Manias, Panics and Crashes. A History of Financial Crises, 7th Edition, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015

Bergman Rosamond, A. et al The Case for Interdisciplinary Crisis Studies¿, Global Discourse 12(3-4), 2022: 465-486.

Fraser, N. Legitimation Crisis? On the Political Contradictions of Financialized Capitalism¿, Critical Historical Studies 2(2), 2015: 157-189

Kreuder-Sonnen, C. Emergency Powers of International Organizations: Between Normalization and Containment, Oxford University Press, 2019.

Koselleck, R. Crisis, Journal of the History of Ideas 67(2), 2006 357-400.

Seabrooke, L. and Tsingou, E. Europes fast- and slow-burning crises¿, Journal of European Public Policy 26(2), 2019: 468-481.

Stahl, R.M. Ruling the Interregnum: Politics and Ideology in Nonhegemonic Times¿, Politics & Society 47(3), 2019: 330-360.

White, J. Politics of Last Resort: Governing by Emergency in the European Union, Oxford University Press, 2019.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Critical thinking and analysis through the application of complex theoretical literatures to concrete cases;
- Research skills through the preparation and execution of an extended assignment;
- Working with others collaboratively through small group tasks and presentations;
- Self-reflection, though active engagement with how learning has taken place on the course and how it fits into a wider programme of study.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Ben Rosamond
Course secretaryMrs Casey Behringer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2456
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