Becoming Enlightened Citizens: Foundations in Politics and Government

The details
Essex Pathways
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Foundation/Year Zero: Level 3
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
15 August 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA T700 American Studies (United States),
BA T702 American Studies (United States) (UK Study),
BA T708 American Studies (United States) (Including Year Abroad),
BA T710 American Studies (United States) (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA T712 American Studies (United States) (UK Study) (Including Placement Year),
BA T770 American Studies (United States) (including Placement Year),
BA T7P3 American Studies (United States) with Film,
BA T7P4 American Studies (United States) with Film (Including Placement Year),
BA T7W6 American Studies (United States) with Film (Including Year Abroad),
BA T7W8 American Studies (United States) with Film (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VT2R American History (Including Year Abroad),
BA V314 Art History,
BA V315 Art History (Including Placement Year),
BA V31B Art History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA V350 Art History (Including Foundation Year),
BA V35A Art History (Including Year Abroad),
BA M900 Criminology,
BA M901 Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA M903 Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
BA M904 Criminology (Including Placement Year),
BA MT26 Criminology and American Studies (UK Study),
BA MT27 Criminology and American Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA MT28 Criminology and American Studies (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA MT2R Criminology and American Studies,
BA MT3R Criminology and American Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA MT62 Criminology and American Studies (UK Study) (Including Placement Year),
BA R000 European Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA R001 European Studies,
BA R002 European Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA R008 European Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9T8 European Studies and Modern Languages (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9T9 European Studies and Modern Languages,
BA R9R1 European Studies with French,
BA R9R8 European Studies with French (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R2 European Studies with German,
BA R9R6 European Studies with German (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R3 European Studies with Italian,
BA R9R7 European Studies with Italian (Including Foundation 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 R9R4 European Studies with Spanish,
BA R9R9 European Studies with Spanish (Including Foundation Year),
NONUY6JSBE International Foundation Programme,
NONUY6JSCE International Foundation Programme,
NONUY6JSCS International Foundation Programme,
NONUY6JSEC International Foundation Programme,
NONUY6JSGV International Foundation Programme,
NONUY6JSLH International Foundation Programme,
NONUY6JSLL International Foundation Programme,
NONUY6JSSC International Foundation Programme,
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),
BA T711 Latin American Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA T721 Latin American Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA T731 Latin American Studies,
BA T7N3 Latin American Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA T7N2 Latin American Studies with Business Management,
BA T7N4 Latin American studies with Business Management (Including Foundation Year),
BA T7M8 Latin American studies with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA T7M9 Latin American Studies with Human Rights,
BA LQV0 Liberal Arts (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q900 Liberal Arts (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA QV00 Liberal Arts (Including Year Abroad),
BA V900 Liberal Arts,
BA V901 Liberal Arts (Including Placement Year),
BA LP33 Communications and Digital Culture,
BA LP34 Communications and Digital Culture (Including Placement Year),
BA P300 Communications and Digital Culture (Including Foundation Year),
BA PL33 Communications and Digital Culture (Including Year Abroad),
BA L200 Politics,
BA L200PT Politics,
BA L201 Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA L202 Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA L203 Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA L300 Sociology,
BA L301 Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BA L304 Sociology (Including Foundation Year),
BA L306 Sociology (Including Placement Year),
BA LM38 Sociology and Criminology (Including Placement Year),
BA LM39 Sociology and Criminology,
BA LMH9 Sociology and Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LMHX Sociology and Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
BA L903 Global Studies,
BA L904 Global Studies (including year abroad),
BA L905 Global Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA L908 Global Studies (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BSC L310 Sociology with Data Science,
BSC L311 Sociology with Data Science (including Year Abroad),
BSC L312 Sociology with Data Science (including Placement Year),
BSC L313 Sociology with Data Science (including foundation Year),
BA L910 Global Studies with Politics,
BA L911 Global Studies with Politics (Including year abroad),
BA L912 Global Studies with Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA L913 Global Studies with Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA L914 Global Studies with Human Rights,
BA L916 Global Studies with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA L917 Global Studies with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
BA L918 Global Studies with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module is designed to explore the structures and dynamics of politics and government, providing a broad introduction into the ideas and institutions that shape the contemporary political world. It begins by looking at the beginning of Western political thought and how these ideas emerged and evolved to shape how we view the role of government today. The module then provides an introduction to how politics shapes and is shaped by individuals, identities, culture, society, and electoral systems. Next, the module explores the concepts of nationhood, nationalism, and different types of governmental systems, such as democracies and dictatorships. The final section of the module will examine contemporary issues that shape the modern political landscape, such as inequality, climate change, globalization, and crises of democracy.

Throughout the module, the importance of remaining active and informed in politics will be emphasised, helping students to develop a strong sense of political efficacy. Students will gain first-hand experience engaging in politics through a political engagement activity. Students will also gain confidence in their political knowledge by learning the basics of how to read and understand empirical social science, and how to use reason and evidence in their writing, as well as in forming their own political beliefs*.
*The module is designed to complement concepts and skills learned in the Datacy module, though it is not requisite for students to be enrolled in the Datacy module.

The module does not assume any prior knowledge of any of the topics. It aims to take the students through the material at a pace that allows for a sound and critical understanding of these key topics and to prepare them fully for academic life as an undergraduate in the social sciences and humanities.

Module aims

1. To provide an introduction to the main concepts of politics and government.
2. To encourage students to think critically and carefully about issues such as ideology, the role of the state, citizenship, identities, and democracy.
3. To understand the importance of the relationship between morality and politics.
4. To enable students to become familiar with the academic conventions of university life.
5. To encourage students to be confident in the expression of their thoughts and ideas in seminars and tutorials.
6. To understand the basic principles of empirical social science.
7. To develop skills for working in groups.
8. To encourage students to follow events in contemporary politics and current affairs.
9. To develop a sense of political efficacy and to engage in the political process.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module a student will be expected to be able to:
1. Demonstrate a good knowledge and understanding of the main concepts of politics and government;
2. Critically analyse issues and themes in contemporary politics;
3. Evaluate and distinguish between different propositions and arguments, and between normative and non-normative claims;
4. Select and evaluate primary and secondary sources and reference accurately in their assignments;
5. Engage in thoughtful academic dialogue and debate;
6. Write well-articulated, well-structured, and well-evidenced essays;
7. Understand the basic principles of empirical social science;
8. Engage actively and thoughtfully in political life.

Module information


I. Introduction to Political Thought and Ideologies
Week 2. Introduction to Politics and Early Political Thought
In this introductory week, students will be introduced to basic concepts in politics and early thinkers in political philosophy. We will pay special attention to some of Plato and Aristotle’s ideas.
Week 3. Politics and The State
Here students will be introduced to the concept of the state, the roles of government, and social contract theory. We will wrestle with questions such as: Why do we have government? and How strong should that government be?
Week 4: How to Read and Understand Social Science
This week will introduce students to the empirical approach to politics and how it contrasts with theoretical approaches. Emphasis on quantitative methods, making connections with Datacy module.
Week 5: Socialism
This week’s topic will explore the content and history of the socialist ideology, as well as its applications in practice. Students will be introduced to the writings of Karl Marx.
Week 6: Liberalism
Liberalism has had a profound impact not only on Western society, but the entire globe. This week examines early liberalism as an out spring of the Enlightenment and how it has evolved over time. Students will examine the writings of liberal thinkers such as John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls.
Week 7: Conservatism
This week will continue our foray into political ideologies by examining conservatism. We will trace the development of conservative thought from Edmund Burke to the many strands of modern conservatism.
Week 8: Moral Foundations of Politics
For something different, this week takes a brief venture into political psychology. Using Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory, we will re-examine liberalism and conservatism from a psychological perspective. Why are liberals and conservatives so different and can they ever learn to get along?

II. Identity, Society, and Politics
Week 9: Politics and Identity: Race, Gender, and Social Class
This week we turn to from political ideologies, to contemporary debates about the roles of race, gender, and social class in politics. Does one’s social class, gender, or race have impact on their ability to engage equally in political and social life? Have we spent too much time focusing on identity politics?
Week 10: Politics and Identity: Race, Gender, and Social Class Continued
We will continue our exploration of the politics surrounding race, gender, and social class.
Week 11: In-class test
Week 16: Political Culture and Media
To start off the new term, we will examine concepts such as political socialization and the role of media in politics.
Week 17: Representation and Political Participation
Many of us take for granted our privilege to live in democratic countries. This week we will contend with the concepts of political representation and political equality. We will also examine different electoral systems and political participation in a comparative context.

III. From Nations to Regimes
Week 18: Nations and Nationalism
What exactly is a nation anyway? And what is the deal with nationalism? We explore these questions and more this week as we explore the concept of the nation and the varieties of nationalism.
Week 19: Democracy and Legitimacy
Those of us who grow up in democratic countries often take for granted that democracy is the greatest type of government. But what exactly is democracy? How can we define and measure it? Are democracies more legitimate than other forms of government?
Week 20: Governments, Systems, and Regimes
This week explores different types of governments, political systems, and regimes. We cover topics such as the different flavors of democracy and comparative differences in regime types across the globe.

IV. Contemporary Issues
Week 21: Inequality
Economic inequality is a defining feature of modern developed countries. Is this problematic, or is it a natural and desirable outcome of a healthy capitalist system?
Week 22: Climate Change
Global climate change is slated to have an immense impact, with potential devastating effects, such as mass displacement and migration, economic crises, and food shortages. How can these challenges be addressed politically?
Week 23: Globalization and Political Economy
The world is increasingly interconnected and this poses challenges to governments, political leaders, and economies. We will contend with questions such as: What is the proper balance between global order and sovereignty? What is the relationship between states and markets?
Week 24: Crises of Democracy
This week will focus on potential threats to democracy, including topics such as the decline in civic engagement, material performance of democratic countries, populism, and mass migration. Are we facing crises of democracy as some have claimed, or is their concern exaggerated?
Week 25: In-class test


Formative assessment
Throughout the year, students will work on in-class individual and group exercises and activities during seminar sessions. Some activities are designed to help students grasp and engage with the concepts learned in lecture and the readings, others are aimed at helping students work toward their summative assignments. For the latter activities, students will receive feedback during seminar sessions for how to improve before submitting their summative assignments.

Summative assessment
- Empirical Social Science Assignment (10%) – For this exercise, students will read a piece of quantitative social science and will be asked to identify the topic, research question, theory, hypotheses, methods (including data), and results presented in the reading. They will also be asked to demonstrate a basic understanding of the results and whether they support the author’s hypotheses. Students will also pose a question of their own that they might be interested in pursuing for their final research essay and to find one potential relevant academic source that could be used in their final essay.

- Two In-class tests (17.5% each) – Tests will assess both breadth and depth of students’ knowledge and understanding of the concepts and theories learned during each term. Tests will use a variety of question types, including multiple-choice, concept identification, and short essay.

- Research Question and Proposal (10%) – To help students prepare for their final essay assignment, they will first submit a proposal for their paper, outlining their topic of interest, the research question they want to explore, some brief background about their topic and why it is important, and identify several potential reference sources to use in their final papers.

- Participation (10%) – Participation will be assessed through in-class exercises and group activities, as well as quality (not simply quantity) of engagement in class discussions.

- Engagement Activity (10%) - Students must participate in at least one political activity during the year. The types of available activities that people engage in everyday are myriad and can include canvassing for a candidate for elected office, attending a public demonstration, writing or calling a local MP, etc. The types of activities that students can engage in are not confined to formal UK (or other) politics and could include activities such as signing petitions, addressing international issues, joining a campus organization with political elements, like Amnesty International. Students can choose the activity and issues they want to address with their engagement, with the constraint that it must be related to politics in some way. Students are welcome to discuss with me ideas that they have for their engagement that would work for them.

In order to receive marks for this activity, students will submit a short write-up about their experience, detailing the activity they participated in and why they chose that particular activity, and providing their overall experience (e.g. did they feel it made a difference, would they do something similar again).

- Research Essay (25%) – Students will choose one of the topics covered in the module to explore in more depth. They will propose a simple research question related to their chosen topic, formulate a clear thesis statement, and engage in a review of the scholarly literature on their topic to try to answer their research question. This can be related to the chosen research question for the Datacy final project.

Reassessment strategy

Failed Coursework
Resubmit a piece of coursework (2,000 words) which will be marked as 100% of the new module mark. The reassessment task will enable the relevant learning outcomes to be met.

Learning and teaching methods

The module is delivered via a weekly two-hour lecture and a two-hour seminar. Lectures and seminars are designed to complement each other. Lectures will cover a broad overview of the week’s topics, providing students with a foundation in the concepts and theories necessary for a more in-depth analysis. Seminars are designed to help students delve more deeply into a specific aspect of the week’s topic. During seminars, students will engage in thoughtful discussions about the week’s topic and assigned reading(s), as well as work on both solo and group activities and exercises.


  • Haidt, Jonathan. (2013) The righteous mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion, New York: Vintage Books.
  • Heywood, Andrew. (2017) Political ideologies : an introduction, London: palgrave Macmillan.
  • Verba, Sidney; Schlozman, Kay Lehman; Brady, Henry E. (1995) Voice and equality: civic voluntarism in American politics, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
  • (no date) Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan.
  • Swift, Adam. (2019) Political philosophy: a beginners' guide for students and politicians, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
  • Andrew Heywood. (2013) Politics (Palgrave Foundations Series): Palgrave; 4th edition edition.
  • Heywood, Andrew. (©2019) Politics, London: Red Globe Press.
  • Raworth, Kate. (©2017) Doughnut economics: seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist, London: Random House Business Books.
  • (no date) Manifesto of the Communist Party.
  • (no date) Reading and understanding political science.
  • Locke, John; Macpherson, C. B. (c1980) Second treatise of government, Indianapolis, Ind: Hackett.
  • (no date) How to read (and understand) a social science journal article.
  • Wängnerud, Lena. (2009-06) 'Women in Parliaments: Descriptive and Substantive Representation', in Annual Review of Political Science. vol. 12 (1) , pp.51-69
  • (no date) John Locke, Second Treatise on Government.
  • (no date) Plato: The Republic.
  • Huntington, Samuel P. (1957-06) 'Conservatism as an Ideology', in American Political Science Review. vol. 51 (2) , pp.454-473

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 Empirical Social Science Assignment 15/11/2019 30%
Coursework Research Question and Proposal 04/02/2020 40%
Coursework 500 Word Engagement Activity 28/02/2020 10%
Coursework Research Essay 21/04/2020 25%
Practical Participation 10%
Written Exam In Class Test 1 20%
Written Exam In Class Test 2 10%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Raynee Gutting
Lucy Anthony (lanthony@essex.ac.uk)



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 316 hours, 304 (96.2%) hours available to students:
12 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Essex Pathways

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