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This is the foundation module on which subsequent, university level Political Science modules are based.

This module provides an introduction to the discipline, its theories and key empirical issue areas that are the focus of political thought.

Topics covered

Introducing Politics and Political Thought: This unit introduces the study of politics and the main streams of political thought. It outlines the different ways that politics can be defined and challenges students to think about the different ways that politics can be studied. Key schools of political thought are introduced.

  • Section 1: What is politics?
  • Section 2: Studying politics
  • Section 3: Political Thought I
  • Section 4: Political Thought II

States, Nations and Regimes: This unit provides students with the tools to recognise both the large‐scale trends which led to the global rise of the nation‐state, as well as how different political patterns of rule have evolved.

  • Section 1: States and Regimes
  • Section 2: Nations and Nationalism
  • Section 3: Democratic Regimes
  • Section 4: Authoritarian Regimes

Representation and Government: This unit explains how government in modern democracies is based on the principle of representation.

  • Section 1: Representation and political parties
  • Section 2: Elections
  • Section 3: Assemblies
  • Section 4: Political executives

Unit Four – Economy and Society: This unit explores the ways in which society and economy interact with the state.

  • Section 1: Political Participation and Movements
  • Section 2: States and Markets
  • Section 3: Multilevel governance and Subnational Politics
  • Section 4: Globalization

Public Policy and Administration: This unit provides students with an understanding of the main institutions and organisations that intervene in the policymaking process.

  • Section 1: Bureaucracy
  • Section 2: Public Policy
  • Section 3: Armed forces
  • Section 4: Interest groups

Learning outcomes

If you complete the module successfully, you should be able to:

  • Identify and explain key concepts and theoretical approaches to the study of politics
  • Apply concepts and approaches to the analysis of the nation‐state and governance mechanisms
  • Contrast different types of government and representation that exist in the world today.


Unseen written exam (Two-hour 15 minutes).

Essential reading

  • Heywood, A. (2013) Politics 4th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.