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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PIED5601M Political Theory in Action

30 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Dr Derek Edyvane

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

How can political theory be used to analyse, criticise and transform practice? This module will introduce the activity of political theory as a mode of enquiry and enable you to apply the tools of conceptual analysis to a range of practical issues reflecting your own skills and interests. The module first addresses central methodological questions concerning the nature of political theory and the application of theory to practice. It then proceeds to explore in depth four key concepts in political theory including ideas such as: freedom, justice, equality, rights, toleration, democracy, obligation, citizenship, violence, community, and revolution. The range of issues addressed will be tailored to suit student interests, and module reading will cover both classic contributions to the topic and cutting-edge new research. While it is a central purpose of the module to explore the particular concepts selected, the module will also emphasise the development of the skills of enquiry in political theory.


1. Introduce students to methodological debates concerning the uses of theory as a political tool.
2. Develop understanding of key concepts in political theory and of their relevance to contemporary political issues.
3. Develop skills of conceptual analysis, critical thought and creative reflection.
4. Develop practise of critical review of contemporary and historical texts in political theory.

Learning outcomes
1. Critical understanding of debates concerning the relationship of political theory to practice.
2. Knowledge of and capacity for critical engagement with contemporary and historical treatments of key concepts in political theory.
3. Ability to apply those concepts to contemporary political issues.

Skills outcomes
1. Ability to appraise and criticise dominant theories concerning the uses of theory
2. Critical review of contemporary and historical theoretical texts
3. Use of reading lists, the library and the internet, to locate relevant material, including finding additional material beyond that specified in the module outline
4. Contribute to group discussions in seminars
5. Plan, write, and reference essays and bibliographies


The module will explore rival methodological approaches in political theory, and will examine in depth four key theoretical concepts and their potential applications in political action (2 weeks will be devoted to each concept). The concepts covered will vary from year to year, but will address topics such as: freedom, justice, equality, rights, toleration, democracy, obligation, citizenship, violence, community, revolution. The syllabus will also include an essay workshop session in which students will have the opportunity to read and discuss their work-in-progress coursework essays and receive feedback from the tutor and their peers.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Students are required to read the core and additional publications listed in the module bibliography in preparation for seminar discussions and essays. This requires careful and reflective reading, note taking, summarising, preparation for class discussion, and developing a sense of a field of literature in addition to engagement with individual readings. Also, students are encouraged to use their initiative and skills of discernment in finding additional relevant material

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students' progress will be monitored on a weekly basis by means of:

1 Student contributions to class discussion, which will be monitored throughout the course, though not assessed
2 Assessment performance will be monitored through the submission of essay drafts/plans which will be read by the tutor prior to the submission of their final term paper. Meetings will then be offered to students to discuss their work prior to final submission. In specific terms, Students will prepare a non-assessed 2000 word essay to be completed by the end of week seven. These essays will then be circulated among the group and will form the basis for an ‘essay workshop’ at the end of the module. The non-assessed essay will both serve to monitor progress as well as to provide feedback and advice for students in preparation for submitting assessed work.
3 Opportunities for individual discussions outside seminar times.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 End of Term essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 04/08/2021 16:10:19


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