IR6001 - Active Citizens

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What will I learn on this module?

Is there a crisis of governance in Britain and elsewhere? To what extent does the evidence suggest that democracy is in crisis today? These questions provide the starting point for this module. It encourages you to build upon the critical understanding of democracy and governance that you gained in Democratic Politics at level 5, but approaches the topic from a different perspective. Against this background, you will explore the range of different ways that citizens, particularly as part of organisations and global social movements seek to influence and, in some cases, challenge the state and/or market. In this respect, the concept of civil society and the dynamics of state, market and civil society relationship are central to this module. Using case studies, the module will consider themes such as the Anti-globalisation and anti-capitalist movement; the World Social Forum; the politics of pressure, lobbying and campaigning; think tanks; wealth, power and philanthropy; the role of trade unions and the politics of “everyday activism” and volunteering.

How will I learn on this module?

The module aims to consolidate your skills in areas such as team work and collaborative research. Weekly lectures will frame the discussion of each case study in the context of relevant concepts, theories and debates. Seminars will follow a more student-led, workshop format. Seminars will also be organised around the case studies. For each theme, you will work as part of a team to research and analyse each case study in more depth. Consolidating your learning at levels four and five, building skills in information retrieval and analysis is central to the approach taken in seminars. Further development of your confidence in synthesising, explaining and discussing information from a range of sources is also a key aim of the approach taken in this module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Developing your ability to reflect informatively, and think critically about some of the challenges facing democracy in the modern world is central to this module. In this regard, it will enable you to make informed evaluations of some of the major public concerns facing modern democracies. Moreover, as the case studies introduce you to a diverse range of strategies for citizen organising, engagement and political action, the module encourages you to critically consider the different ways in which actors and organisations interpret, and react to political/social events, patterns and issues. In addition to your intellectual development, you will receive support from your peers in the classroom and from the module tutor throughout the module.

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. Within the context of the state, market-civil society dynamic, to critically analyse, and engage students in debates about the crisis of governance in modern democracies.
2. Through the analysis of case studies, to analyse the different ways in which citizens participate in modern democracies; how this shapes the state-market-civil society dynamic, and the fabric of democracy itself.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. To collaborate with others and to work as part of a team to formulate questions about; critically discuss and evaluate particular case studies.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. To have confidence in your own thinking and assessment of events and issues, but also to be open to challenge and debate too.

How will I be assessed?

The seminar programme will support the formative assessment for this module, allowing for the discussion and evaluation of relevant evidence and case studies (MLO 3). Two essays form the summative assessment for this module. The first essay will assess learning outcomes 1 and 4 (MLO 1, 4) whilst the second essay addresses learning outcomes 2, 3 and 4 (MLO 2).





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 2020 or September 2021

Fee Information

Module Information

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