SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Political Concepts and Global Crises

Module Code:
15PPOH043
Credits:
15
FHEQ Level:
7
Year of study:
Any
Taught in:
Term 2

This course will interrogate a series of core concepts in political theory. Through a focus on influential texts and thinkers in contemporary political theory, it aims to provide a grounding in a range of concepts that are commonly used in political analysis and critique across different regions and periods. Rather than treating theoretical concepts as purely abstract, they will be explored through a series of topics of global significance where we can see the concepts at work. We will cover areas such as the climate crisis, structural racism, repressive use of state power, and interventionism. Through these explorations we will come to a better understanding of what is at stake in theoretical concepts such as sovereignty, rights, justice, and democracy. These reflections are couched in a larger consideration of how political theory may contribute to a liberatory politics, and how we reflect our role as political theorists. This module provides students an opportunity to engage systematically with key normative concepts and their valences in the World.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On completion of the course students will have the following:

  • Gain familiarity with key concepts in contemporary political theory
  • Acquire knowledge of debates over the meanings of these concepts through the writings of key thinkers
  • Develop stronger analytical and critical skills
  • Develop stronger written and oral communication skills

Workload

  • 1 hour lecture per week
    1 hour Seminar per week

Method of assessment

This module is assessed by two assignments; 1 x 1000 word Reaction Paper (30%) and 1 x 3000 word essay (70%).

Suggested reading

  • Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Ethics of Identity, chapter 1
  • Isaiah Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty
  • Seyla Benhabib, ed. Democracy and Difference:  Contesting the Boundaries of the Political.
  • Judith Butler, Gender Trouble
  • Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules