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

Undergraduate Course: Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryPolitics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates introduces key political concepts, such as power, participation, and representation. Each week it explores a different concept, introducing students to the key debates and a contemporary case.
Course description PIR 1A introduces students to the discipline of political science by exploring key concepts and debates. Core concepts include power, democracy, legitimacy, the state, nationalism, gender, class, race, participation and representation.

It is structured around some of the most important political questions of our time, among them: How much power does the state still have? Is democracy under threat? Is politics perpetuating inequalities? How can we protect the environment? For each question, the course will examine the actors, processes, and institutions at play, and discuss them in the context of pivotal cases. The course equips students with knowledge and understanding of key political concepts, institutions and processes, and develop the analytical tools required to debate today's most prevalent political issues.

Each week, lectures will
- Introduce a significant political question or debate
- Identify the key concepts that enable students to make sense of the question/debate
- Challenge students' preconceptions by drawing out areas of conflict and contestation;
- Connect larger questions to the real world through a range of case studies, which might include the rise of populist parties, Brexit, the Arab spring, national efforts to address climate change, or sub-state nationalism in the UK;
- Show how a knowledge of concepts can help us better understand political issues, and generate solutions;
- Engage with a globally diverse range of research and individual thinkers, including primary sources;
- Provide a guide to the literature, informing and inspiring students to undertake further reading.

Weekly tutorials will
- Develop students' understanding with focused discussion of key concepts and cases;
- Develop students' analytical and communication skills through discussion of key areas of conflict and contestation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012)
Other requirements This course is only available to students on named Politics & International Relations degree programmes.
Students considering a transfer to a PIR degree may substitute this course with ┬┐PLIT08012 Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for Non-specialists┬┐.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  472
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 167 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Tutorial participation 10%
Essay (1600 words) 40%
Take-home exam 50% (online)
Feedback In the study skills sessions that accompany the course there are opportunities for students to receive feedback, from both their peers and academic staff.
Within the course itself, we include non-assessed activities such as quizzes that provide formative feedback.
Students will receive their essay feedback before the exam.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Exam2:15
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate knowledge of key concepts and key cases in politics.
  2. exhibit knowledge of different political institutions and their significance.
  3. apply this knowledge to understand and discuss contemporary political issues, debates and problems.
  4. critically analyse academic texts and debate them in tutorials.
  5. demonstrate fundamental writing skills, including academic referencing.
Reading List
Baylis, J. / Smith, S. / Owens, P. (2020) The Globalization of World Politics. Oxford University Press. 8th edition.

Heywood, A. (2019) Politics. Palgrave Macmillan. 5th edition.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course contributes to the following graduate attributes
- generic cognitive skills (e.g. evaluation, critical analysis);
- communication skills
- autonomy, accountability and working with others.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Patrick Theiner
Course secretaryMr Ian McClory
Tel: (0131 6)50 3932
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