IR4006 - Thinking Politically

What will I learn on this module?

The aim of the module is to introduce students to the main thinkers, ideas and debates within political philosophy and political theory. The module differentiates between the different branches of politics (i.e. political economy, political philosophy and theory, and political science) before examining the debates about human nature; the nature of society without government; the arguments for and against democracy; justifying the existence of the state and state rule; liberty; equality; how to produce and distribute the goods and services that society needs and desires; and social justice. Furthermore, it links these debates – and the ideas and theories that inform them – to a range of contemporary political ideologies (e.g. conservatism, liberalism, feminism, etc.) and assesses the impact of these upon politics and society more generally.

How will I learn on this module?

The learning and teaching strategy will employ a variety of methods that are appropriate for Level 4 students. Directed learning will take the form of taught lectures in which the Module Tutor will set out the main topics, perspectives and debates, thus providing a framework for the student’s independent learning. These will be augmented by student-led seminars – small-group sessions that draw upon the student’s reading, review the existing literature, survey the historical and contemporary debates, and encourage critical thinking.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Via a module handbook with details of lectures, seminars, reading lists and assessment criteria; lecture PowerPoint slides made available on the e-learning portal; feedback during seminar sessions; opportunities to seek personalized support after lectures, seminars and/or specific appointments.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. Understand and critically appraise the main concepts, theories and debates within political philosophy and political theory, plus an appreciation of the value of a normative approach to studying politics.

2. Analyse and assess the impact of these concepts and theories, plus contemporary political ideologies, upon politics and society more generally.

3. Apply these concepts, theories and sets of ideas to help understand and explain contemporary political events and issues.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

4. Collaboration with peers to gather, organise and deploy arguments and supporting evidence; present, critique and debate such arguments and evidence.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA)

5. Appreciation of team work.

How will I be assessed?

Summative assessment
Based upon

(a) 2,000 word essay at the end of Sem 1
(b) 2,000 word essay at the end of Sem 2

Formative assessment

Generalized feedback will be provided during the seminars when students will have the opportunity to clarify their understanding of the topics in preparation for completing the assessments.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code L2L2

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Social Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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