Discourse, Morality and Power

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 16 January 2023
Friday 24 March 2023
19 May 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L900 International Development,
BA L901 International Development (Including Year Abroad),
BA L902 International Development (Including Placement Year),
BA L921 International Development (Including Foundation Year),
BA L250 International Relations (Including Foundation Year),
BA L258 International Relations,
BA L259 International Relations (Including Year Abroad),
BA L260 International Relations (Including Placement Year),
MPOLL268 International Relations,
MPOLL269 International Relations (Including Placement Year),
MPOLL370 International Relations (Including Year Abroad),
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 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 L2M8 Politics with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA L2M9 Politics with Human Rights,
BA LFM9 Politics with Human Rights (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),
MPOLL234 Politics and International Relations,
MPOLL235 Politics and International Relations (Including Placement Year),
MPOLL236 Politics and International Relations (Including Year Abroad),
BA L215 Politics with Business,
BA L216 Politics with Business (Including Placement Year),
BA L217 Politics with Business (including Year Abroad),
BA L620 Politics with Criminology,
BA L621 Politics with Criminology (Including Placement Year),
BA L622 Politics with Criminology (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module explores the intimate relationship in politics between discourse, morality, and power. Through readings and assignments this module is designed to highlight the central importance meaning and language play in defining the political dimension of social relations, political practices, and morality.

Module aims

What we do in this module is really a species of political theory, understood as involving some combination of normative theory (about values/principles), empirical theory (about framing, power, and disadvantage), and discourse theory (about language and meaning). This module foregrounds the discursive dimension of political theory, exploring the role discourse plays in political debate, and it develops a conceptual vocabulary with which to talk and think about this. The module, therefore, points to a particular focus and way of doing research, which bridges what is often referred to as ideology and discourse analysis (IDA) with political theory. This approach uses discourse and meaning as a prism through which to probe the relation between normative values and principles, empirical claims and findings, and power dynamics.

Module learning outcomes

On completing this module, a student ought to have a good understanding of central debates associated with the categories of discourse, morality, and power; be comfortable discussing key issues in critical political theory; and be familiar with some crucial methodological assumptions and debates in political analysis. In particular, students will have an enhanced appreciation of the role meaning and power play in the shaping and study of moral norms and social, economic, and political practices, including processes of collective deliberation and coordination; and a deep familiarity with a range of perspectives on discourse and power, noting how these are relevant to the tasks of description, explanation, and critique in political studies. The module offers students opportunities to develop skills relevant to the execution of a research project (eg., Capstone), as well as skills relevant to employability & citizenship, as indicated below.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be taught over 2 hours per week


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Quiz    35% 
Coursework   Essay  10/04/2023  65% 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: Remote, Closed Book, 24hr during January 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: Remote, Closed Book, 24hr during Summer (Main Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr David Axelsen, email: d.v.axelsen@essex.ac.uk.
Dr David Axelsen
Module Supervisor: Dr David Axelsen - d.v.axelsen@essex.ac.uk / Module Administrator: Jasini Hobbs - govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Katharine Dommett
The University of Sheffield
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 30 hours, 28 (93.3%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

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