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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED2601 Revolution and Reaction: Political Problems in the 20th Century

20 creditsClass Size: 180

Module manager: Dr Graham Smith/ Dr Jonathan Dean

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

Pre-requisite qualifications

Some prior knowledge of basic political theory but not essential

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The dramatic events of the Twentieth century were matched by equal turmoil in the world of ideas. Indeed, perhaps no century has been more driven to the extremes of hope and destruction by the ideas and ideals of its political thought. Like the diverse political movements and events that they were to both inspire and analyse, political theorists in the Twentieth century form of kaleidoscope of opinion and insight: both radical and reactionary. This module explores some of the seminal thinkers of this period and situates them in the context of the problems and challenges that they were attempting to resolve. It also sheds light on how these thinkers – by grappling with key concepts such as power, class, culture, gender and race – sought to contest many of the prevailing orthodoxies of politics and political theory. In so doing the module simultaneously identifies a number of themes which not only link the thinkers, but which also have continuing relevance for an engagement with contemporary political problems and projects.


1. Introduce key ideas and concepts in 20th century political theory
2. Introduce students to several key thinkers in 20th century political theory
3. Development of ability to critically engage with complex ideas through reading and analysing key primary texts.
4. Development of students’ understandings of the links between political theory and key historical events

Learning outcomes
1. The capacity to grasp and analyse key strands of theory that influenced political thought and action in twentieth century including Marxism, feminism and post-colonialism
2. A critical appreciation of some of the key thinkers of the twentieth century.
3. An ability to link these thinkers’ approaches to concepts such as power, class, race and gender to the contestation of dominant assumptions about politics and society.
4. An understanding of the historical context in which these ideas emerged, and an ability to identify their relevance for contemporary politics.

On completion of this module students should be able to develop a reasoned argument, synthesise relevant information, exercise critical judgement, and manage and self-critically reflect on, their own learning and make use of constructive feedback. They should be able to communicate effectively and fluently, use communication and information technologies to retrieve and present information. They are expected to work independently and in groups, show initiative, self-organisation and time-management.


Each week of the module will consist of an introduction to a key twentieth century thinker, including some or all of: Mosca, Lenin, Schmitt, Arendt, Camus, Fanon, Althusser, Kate Millett, Foucault and bell hooks.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

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, and preparation for class discussion. Students will be provided with a list of questions to guide their reading and reflection.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored by means of:

1 Student contributions to class discussion, which will be monitored throughout the course, though not assessed.

2 Opportunities for individual discussions outside seminar times.

3 Students may use feed-forward on assessed work to inform future writing.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 1,500 Mid-Term Essay50.00
Essay1 x 1,500 End of Term Essay50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

One essay to be staged and completed mid term (set in week 6 returned in week 8), the other essay to be staged and completed at the end of the module (set in week 8 and returned in week 13).

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:19:20


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