Introduction to Politics

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
23 September 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA LL12 Economics and Politics,
BA LL13 Economics and Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA LL1F Economics and Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BSC LL2F Economics and Politics,
BSC LL3F Economics and Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BSC LL4F Economics and Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA R9L2 European Studies with Politics,
BA R9L8 European Studies with Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9L8JS European Studies with Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA L900 International Development,
BA L901 International Development (Including Year Abroad),
BA L902 International Development (Including Placement Year),
BA LR59 International Relations and Modern Languages (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA LRF9 International Relations and Modern Languages,
BA LV21 Modern History and Politics,
BA LV22 Modern History and Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA LV28 Modern History and Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA LV2C Modern History and Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV25 Philosophy and Politics,
BA LV26 Philosophy and Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA LV2H Philosophy and Politics (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA LV2M Philosophy and Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV8M Philosophy and Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA L0V0 Philosophy, Politics and Economics,
BA L0V1 Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Including Placement Year),
BA L0VA Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Including Year Abroad),
BA 0A56 Political Theory and Public Policy (Including Year Abroad),
BA 7L29 Political Theory and Public Policy,
BA 7L30 Political Theory and Public Policy (Including Placement Year),
BA L200 Politics,
BA L201 Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA L202 Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA L203 Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA L219 Politics with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
BA L2M9 Politics with Human Rights,
BA LFM9 Politics with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL23 Sociology and Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL24 Sociology and Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA LL32 Sociology and Politics,
LLB ML14 Law with Politics (Including Year Abroad),
LLB ML15 Law with Politics (Including Placement Year),
LLB ML16 Law with Politics,
BA P580 Journalism and Politics,
BA P581 Journalism and Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA P582 Journalism and Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA L225 Politics and International Relations,
BA L226 Politics and International Relations (Including Year Abroad),
BA L227 Politics and International Relations (Including Placement Year),
BSC L222 Politics and International Relations,
BSC L223 Politics and International Relations (Including Year Abroad),
BSC L224 Politics and International Relations (Including Placement Year)

Module description

This module is designed to provide you with an introduction to politics and political thinking. People have been writing about politics for more than two thousand years and the aim of the course is to give you a flavour of the debates, concepts and ideas in the vast literature in the discipline of politics. Part of the exercise will be to introduce some key issues in the methodology of political research, that is, how we go about studying politics.

You will read about ideas in political philosophy, in formal theory, and also in empirical political theory. These are all branches of the contemporary study of politics. Specific topics include the origins and organisation of the state, the use (and abuse) of political power, political decision-making, political ideologies and values, political participation and democracy as well as an examination of specific political institutions such as parties and governments. You will be reading extracts from authors who wrote centuries ago as well authors who are much more contemporary.

Module aims

By the end of this module, you should be able to:
(1) Summarise the basic building blocks of the academic study of politics;
(2) Read, understand, and discuss articles involved in more specialised study in the field of politics.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you should be able to:
(1) Compare and contrast political systems, institutions, behaviours, and outcomes at different times and in different places;
(2) Write clear and cogent essays;
(3) Conduct independent library and internet searches for scholarly work;
(4) Contribute with well-informed contributions in small-group discussions.

Module information

Books to Buy
There are three textbooks used extensively in this module:
Ian Budge. 2019. Politics: A Unified Introduction to How Democracy Works, (Routledge).
Russell Dalton, 2013. Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies (Sage)
Nigel Jackson and Stephen Tansey, 2015. Politics: The Basics. (Routledge).

You should buy paperbacks or electronic copies of these books
Further, a selection of readings is assigned throughout the module. The readings are listed and identified in more detail below.

Learning and teaching methods

1 hour lecture per week plus 1 hour class per week. For four weeks each term (Weeks 4, 6, 8, 10, and Weeks 17, 19, 21, 23), the lecture will be 80 minutes instead of 50 minutes. It will end a 20 minutes past the hour. During these sessions, you will receive extra instruction on writing and researching in political science


  • Ian Budge. (©2019) Politics: a unified introduction to how democracy works, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Schelling, Thomas C. (c1980) The strategy of conflict, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
  • (©2014) Politics UK, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Lijphart, Arend. (1990-06) 'The Political Consequences of Electoral Laws, 1945–85', in American Political Science Review. vol. 84 (2) , pp.481-496
  • Russell J. Dalton. (© 2020) Citizen politics: public opinion and political parties in advanced industrial democracies, Los Angeles, California: SAGE, CQ Press.
  • Bernard Crick. (2002) Democracy: a very short introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Whiteley, Paul. (2011) Political participation in Britain: the decline and revival of civic culture, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Axelrod, Robert M. (©1984) The evolution of cooperation, New York: Basic Books.
  • (no date) STERN REVIEW: The Economics of Climate Change.
  • Anthony Downs. (c1957) An economic theory of democracy, New York: Harper.
  • William H. Riker. (c1986) The art of political manipulation, New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Erik Moberg. (©2014) Towards a science of states: their evolution and properties, Sweden: Moberg Publications.
  • Morrow, James D. (c1994) Game theory for political scientists, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Robert A. Dahl; Ian Shapiro. (©2015) On democracy, New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Rapoport, Anatol. (1961, c1960) Fights, games, and debates, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Nigel A. Jackson; Stephen D. Tansey. (©2015) Politics: the basics, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Whiteley, Paul. (1986) Political control of the macroeconomy: the political economy of public policy making, London: Sage.
  • Daniel Kahneman. (2011) Thinking, fast and slow, London: Allen Lane.
  • Waltz, Kenneth N. (c1979) Theory of international politics, Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.
  • Mancur Olson. (2000) Power and prosperity: outgrowing communist and capitalist dictatorships, New York: Basic Books.
  • Steven Lukes. (2005) Power: a radical view, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Russett, Bruce; Layne, Christopher; Spiro, David E.; Doyle, Michael W. (1995-21) 'The Democratic Peace', in International Security. vol. 19 (4) , pp.164-
  • Sidney Verba. (c1994) 'The Science in Social Science', in Designing social inquiry: scientific inference in qualitative research, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press., pp.3-33
  • Hopkin, J. (c2010) 'The Comparative Method', in Theory and methods in political science, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • D. T Denver; Christopher J Carman; Robert Johns. (2012) Elections and voters in Britain, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Mark N. Franklin. (2004) Voter turnout and the dynamics of electoral competition in established democracies since 1945, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hill, Michael J. (1997) The policy process: a reader, London: Prentice Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf.
  • Abramson, Paul R; Inglehart, Ronald F. (2009) Value Change in Global Perspective: University of Michigan Press.
  • Budge, Ian. (©2019) Politics: a unified introduction to how democracy works, Abingdon: Routledge.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Participation    8% 
Coursework   Essay Outline 1  19/11/2019  5% 
Coursework   Essay 1  10/12/2019  41% 
Coursework   Essay Outline 2  18/02/2020  5% 
Coursework   Essay 2  17/03/2020  41% 
Exam  90 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
65% 35%


Coursework Exam
65% 35%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Paul Whiteley, email: whiteley@essex.ac.uk.
Module Supervisor: Module Supervisor whiteley@essex.ac.uk Module Administrator: Nicola Rowley E: govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 286 hours, 200 (69.9%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
86 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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