Political Concepts and Global Crises

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

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

  • 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


  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour Seminar per week

Method of assessment

  • Assignment 1: 30%
  • Assignment 2: 70%

Suggested reading

  • Latour, Bruno (2004) ‘Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern’, Critical Inquiry, 30(2): 225-248
  • Spivak, Gayatri C. (2004) ‘Righting Wrongs’, South Atlantic Quarterly. 103(2):523-581
  • Massumi, Brian (2015) Ontopower: war, powers, and the state of perception. Durham, NC.: Duke University Press.
  • Wainwright, Joel & Geoff Mann (2018) Climate leviathan: a political theory of our planetary future. London: Verso.
  • Povinelli, Elizabeth A. (2016) Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism. Durham, NC.: Duke University Press


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.