Introduction to Politics

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
08 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L2CH Social Sciences,
BA LFCH Social Sciences

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

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).

We recommend that you 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

A one hour live lecture and a one hour interactive class session per week. For two weeks each term (Weeks tbc), the lecture will be 80 minutes instead of 50 minutes. During these sessions, you will receive extra instruction on writing and researching in political science


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay Outline    10% 
Coursework   Essay    90% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Paul Whiteley, email: whiteley@essex.ac.uk.
Professor Paul Whiteley
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
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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