POLI100: Understanding Politics and Governance

The aim of this Part 1 core course is to introduce you to the key areas of Politics and International Relations.

The course is designed to be accessible to those who have studied Politics before, but also to those who have not. For the latter the course will provide an introduction and a foundation for future study; for the former it will expand and develop knowledge into new areas. The course will give a ‘taster’ of the kinds of modules which are available in Politics and International Relations in the second and third years (Part Two). The course is taught by eight members of academic staff, each focusing on an area of their expertise.

Term One:

  • Principles of Liberal Democracy
  • Practice of Liberal Democracy
  • International Institutions

In the first term students are introduced to the principles, practice and institutions of ‘liberal democracy’. Liberal democracy is the political and economic order that for many years has characterised life in ‘the West’. We begin the course by looking at the foundations of the liberal state, liberty and democracy, and examine their meaning, value and compatibility. We then explore two states that exemplify those principles (the UK and USA). Finally we will survey some of the institutions of liberal democracy which work within and beyond the state level (such as the European Union and the United Nations).

Term Two:

  • Principles of International Relations
  • Practice of International Relations
  • The US in the world

The second term concentrates on the international system. First we look at different ways of understanding the world of states, a field of study known as International Relations. We then look at the application of these IR theories to the non-Western world, in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. We will explore the complex and challenging role that the USA has on the current world political stage, and take a survey of some contemporary issues in politics.

Term Three:

  • Global Crises

The course concludes in the third term where we will build upon all of the material covered in the course to explore crises of a global nature.