All teaching in PAIS is research-led, meaning that the course content is at the forefront of the field while being grounded in the existing tradition. With over 50 members of staff, we are able to offer modules on an ever-growing and interdisciplinary range of topics, ranging from political theory and international relations to security, gender studies, and development.
Short descriptions of all current undergraduate modules are available on the Prospective Students pages, but we have chosen some highlights to give you a more in-depth look at what modules in PAIS are like.
"The department offers a wide range of modules suitable for everyone’s tastes and helped me to narrow my focus to what I really love – American Politics. I have really enjoyed studying politics and have benefitted greatly from the support of my personal tutors, my lecturers and seminar tutors and of course, my peers."
Anthie Zachariou, BA Politics
"Both the university and the PAIS department have excellent reputations, it is a great place to have fun as student, and it has a flexible undergraduate course that lets all students develop areas of particular interest. I have chosen modules broad enough to cover 400 years of political philosophy, specialised enough to study public service delivery in Western Europe, and even an intensive course in Arabic!"
Rupert Price, BA PoliticsFeatured Modules
Highlights of current undergraduate modules...
Unlike candidates on Politics or Politics and International Studies, students on joint degrees automatically take modules from other departments in each year of your course. Depending on your degree, this will include Sociology, the School of Modern Languages, or the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies.
You can explore the module choices on offer in our partner departments relevant to your degree below:
"The sheer variety of modules offered ensures that everyone can definitely find something they are interested in and want to explore further. The quality of teaching is exceptional and has really challenged me to engage with very current issues at the forefront of research today and to think differently and critically. I particularly enjoy seminars when everyone’s views and thoughts come together and build upon each other to create a very vibrant and dynamic learning environment that stretches you at the same time it supports you."
Sarah Soon, BA Politics and SociologyJoint Degrees
Modules in our partner departments...
PO206: Politics in the UK
Now is a particularly exciting time to be studying British politics. We are living under the first peacetime Coalition government in Britain since 1931. And widespread consititution reform (such as Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) has altered where the balance of power lies. Moreover, Britain's membership of the European Union (EU) remains controvesial, not least in terms of the current problems in the EURO zone.
Unsurprisingly, the aim of this module is to provide you with an understanding of Politics as they are conducted within the UK. The intention is to move beyond journalistic or narrowly descriptive accounts of politics in the UK towards an understanding of political processes which involves evaluation and explanation. Questions you will tackle include:
- How did Britain go from ‘never having it so good’ to ‘crisis’?
- Did Thatcher change Britain permanently...and for the better?
- What prospects are there for equality of opportunity, if not outcome?
- Is the UK a democracy?
Module director: Dave Webber
Dr Dave Webber is a Teaching Fellow in International Political Economy, Global Development, and British Politics in PAIS. His current research explores the gendered dimensions of British international development policy under the Coalition Government.Politics in the UK
Introduction to the politics of the United Kingdom...
PO385: Political Geography
Political Geography can be described as the only discipline within the political sciences that takes the question of the spatial organisation of societies as its core. This includes the study of geopolitics, urban political economy, political cartography, borders studies, and so on.
The module will make you aware of and help analyse the political dimensions of space and the role of space in politics more generally. Themes such as borders, boundaries, scales, territoriality, territory, sovereignty, identity formation and the nation state will be central to the weekly topics.
Political geography is inherently interdisciplinary, and you will explore themes such as importance of history for understanding current political issues; the concepts, traditions and themes of political geography within the broader discipline of International Relations; the relevance of spatial questions in everyday situations; and the relationship between space and politics.
Module director: Marijn Nieuwenhuis
Dr Marijn Nieuwenhuis' research is at the intersection of geography and politics. His research focuses on the politics of the air or "political aerography" and deals with questions of technology, pollution, security, territory and governance.Political Geography
The relationship between space and politics...
PO353: Gender and Development
This module explores the inequalities of development through the lens of gender. Issues include why women constitute 70 per cent of the world’s 1.3 billion who live in absolute poverty, why women make up 60 per cent of the 550 million working poor, why it is that globally, women can earn anything between 12 and 60 per cent less than men, and why the value of their unpaid work – a staggering US$ 11 trillion every year – remains invisible in national and global accounts.
In discussing these and other issues, the module explores how and why inequalities between men and women continue to persist and what impact this inequality has upon the national and global economy as well as examines the strategies that have been developed to challenge this inequality and assess their success.
There are two major themes that bind the module together: the concept of ‘otherness’ and difference; and the gendered analysis of development. These themes will be developed by looking at women and men in their different economic, social, and political roles in society.
Module director: Dave Webber
Dr Dave Webber is a Teaching Fellow in International Political Economy, Global Development, and British Politics in PAIS. His current research explores the gendered dimensions of British international development policy under the Coalition Government.Gender and Development
Analysis of the impact of gender on development…
PO374: Politics of Globalisation
Globalisation is the dominant theme in contemporary political and economic debates. Even a cursory glance at official publications emanating from the key ministries of state across the developed and underdeveloped world reveals the centrality of this concept to policy debates. Concerns about the need to ‘adapt’ to and meet the ‘challenge’ of globalisation inform the conduct not only of macroeconomic policy but every aspect of social and economic policy. Similarly a careful analysis of material produced by major corporations reveals the critical importance these organisations place on changes in the organisation of global markets and the need to become ‘global firms’.
This module explicitly adopts a post-disciplinary approach. As such no attempt will be made to draw clear artificial distinctions between the social, political and economic. Major processes of change in systems of human organisation are simultaneously cultural, political and economic phenomena and we seek to study them as such. In practical terms this means we must be prepared to draw upon sources from throughout the social sciences and the reading list reflects the necessity of eclecticism.
Module director: Iain Pirie
Dr Iain Pirie is a Lecturer in Politics and International Studies in PAIS. His research centres on the role that the changing dicates of international competitveness have played in shaping the development of particular national state forms over the last three decades. Over the last five years his research has examined the shift from a state-led to a neo-liberal development regime in South Korea.Politics of Globalisation
Looking at what shapes the contemporary world order…
PO207: Politics of the USA
This module provides a comprehensive introduction to the political system of the United States of America and to the rival theoretical accounts explaining the political outcomes this system generates. It focuses on the ideas that influence US politics, and the key actors that participate in the American political system, including the President, Congress, the Supreme Court, political parties, and the electorate.
It also assesses the power and influence of informal actors such as the media and interest groups, as well as considering the impact of race, ethnicity, gender and religion on political participation and representation. Furthermore, the module explores the formulation of foreign policy.
The module is broken into two parts. The first analyses the basis of the US political structure and will show how the political ideals and issues that motivated the founding of the United States continue to shape its political system today. The second considers issues of representation and participation in US politics by looking at electoral behaviour and political engagement, at nongovernmental influences on US politics, and at the politics of US foreign policy.
Module director: Trevor McCrisken
Dr Trevor McCrisken is an Associate Professor of US Politics and International Studies at PAIS. His current research focuses on President Barack Obama’s attempts to redefine US foreign policy, his use of rhetoric, and its impact on counter-terrorism policy and the War in Afghanistan.Politics of the USA
Introduction to the political system of the USA...
PO230: States and Markets: An Introduction to International Political Economy
The field of International Political Economy (IPE) explores the production and distribution of power and wealth within the contemporary world order. It is political economy because it is concerned with how a particular social order works, how it might work, and how it should work.
Each term 1 seminar session addresses recurrent questions: What conception of human nature underlies the theory of political economy, if any? What is seen as the source of wealth? (theory of value) What obstacles are identified to the expansion of wealth? What measures are proposed to expand wealth? What is the understanding of the role of the state in the economy? What is the understanding of the relationship between state and market?
Term 2 issues-based seminar sessions address: What is seen as the optimal relationship between States and Markets? What impediments are identified to achieving the optimal balance? What is the role of the state in the economy (& the understanding of market failure)? What measures are proposed to expand wealth? How is the relationship between the domestic and the international understood?
Module director: Simon Glaze
Dr Simon Glaze joined PAIS in 2011 as an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Postdoctoral Research Fellow in International Political Economy. His broad research interests centre upon how economic ideas are articulated politically and how contemporary International Political Economy (IPE) attends to its intellectual lineage.States and Markets
Introduction to international political economy…
PO231: International Security
This module examines a variety of theoretical and empirical material that will form the basis for analysing pressing questions related to issues of war, peace and security in the world today. The topics explored in the module will include theoretical approaches to war, peace and security. Some of the questions you will tackle include:
- Which level of analysis is more important for explaining the causes of war: humans, states or the international system?
- What are the main characteristics of “new wars”? How much do “new wars” differ from “old wars”?
- Whose security should we be studying?
- How important are ideas and identities in international security?
The module is divided into four parts. Part one focuses on war and addresses questions related to its causes, effectiveness, changing nature and justification. Part two focuses on theoretical developments in Security Studies as a sub-discipline of International Relations: in particular looking at the implications of different conceptualisations of the concept of security. Part three explores issues of conflict management and the possibilities of overcoming the security dilemma existing between states. Finally, part four addresses a range of contemporary security challenges, including questions of development, resource and environmental security, terrorism and counter-terrorism.
Module director: Julia Welland
Dr Julia Welland is a Teaching Fellow in PAIS. Her research explores the contemporary ways in which militarised masculinity is produced in the British context, specifically focusing on the particular ‘type’ of soldiering that is required for counterinsurgency warfare. She explores the ways in which this militarised masculine subjectivity operates in war, and how connections can be traced to violences soldiers both perpetrate and endure.International Security
Analysis of war, peace, and security...
PO382: Vigilant State: The Politics of Intelligence
This module aims to investigate the nature of the 'vigilant state'. It focuses upon the apparatus developed by modern states to permit the surveillance of both international and domestic threats to their security. You will examine the major competing theories concerning the repeated failure of the vigilant state in the face of surprise attack at the international level. Consideration will be given to the role of domestic political monitoring within democratic and authoritarian states. Attention will also be given to the problem of reconciling clandestine and/or covert methodswith the degree of transparency and accountability normally expected in a democratic state. The final section of the module will turn to look at the future development of some of these issues against a background of rapid technical change and globalisation.
In short, this module aims to introduce to the various debates that have characterised the use of secret service by the state in the international and domestic context. Although the terms 'espionage', 'intelligence' and 'secret service' are all central to the concerns of this module, it aims to situate all these things in a broader governmental context, viewing them as aspects of international statecraft or as constitutional problems or as issues of civil rights. Accordingly, this module is as much about how policy-makers make use, or fail to make use, of intelligence, and how secret services might be regulated within a constitutional framework, as about the practice of secret service itself.
Module director: Richard Aldrich
Dr Richard Aldrich is Professor of International Security in PAIS. His main research interests lie in the area of intelligence and security communities. He also maintains related interests in issues of cyber security, liberty and privacy, set against a background of accelerating globalization. These wider interests extend to developments in information technology, including public key cryptography.Vigilant State: The Politics of Intelligence
Surveillance and security...
PO225: Europe: Politics and Ideas
This module explores what we mean by ‘Europe’ by examining the relationship between ideas and politics in Europe. It analyses how the notion of Europe has influenced political discourse in contemporary Europe. We will explore the themes of the idea of Europe, regeneration, ideology, revolution, political community and identity, and will draw upon examples from across Western, Central and Eastern Europe.
Some of the ideas explored in this module include:
- What is Europe in terms of key historical and political changes?
- The legacy of the Second World War
- Immigration and assimilation in Europe
- The origins and development of the European Union
- Western models of communism
- The movement between dictatorship and democracy in the post-war years in southern Europe
Module director: Elisa Lopez Lucia
Elisa Lopez Lucia is an Early Career Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies. She joined PAIS as a PhD candidate in 2010 and has remained at Warwick as a research fellow and teacher in PAIS. Her research focuses on the processes of regionalisation of foreign and security policies in West Africa and South America, looking at the discourses and practices of actors ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the region and at their encounter to frame the process of regionalisation.Europe: Politics and Ideas
What do we mean by Europe?
PO239: African Politics in Comparative Perspective
The module considers the 'big questions' regarding the nature of the post-colonial state in sub-Saharan Africa, the relationship between state and society, the political and socio-economic impact of economic and political conditionalities attached to international aid, the causes and level of democratisation, and understandings of civil war.
Some of the questions tackled in this module include:
- How did colonial states seek to control local populations?
- Is it useful to use the term ‘tribe’? Should the term ‘ethnic group’ be used instead?
- Why did so many post-colonial civic regimes fall to militay coups?
- What is the relationship – both in theory and practice – between combating terrorism and poverty reduction?
- Can female politics effectively represent women’s interests?
- Are there are African success stories when it comes to development and/or democratic politics?
Module director: Gabrielle Lynch
Dr Gabrielle Lynch is an Associate Professor in PAIS. Her current research includes understanding the nature and political salience of ethnic identities, causes of inter-communal violence, impact and utility of reconciliation and transitional justice mechanisms, and elections and democratisation.African Politics in Comparative Perspective
Politics in sub-Saharan Africa...
PO132: Contemporary Themes in Comparative Politics
How does political participation change and compare between different societies, especially in the electronic age? How does ethno-nationalist, religious, sectarian, class, and other types of conflict compare between states? What are the connections between the global/regional power shifts between the West on one side and China, Russia, and others on the other side? These are just a small selection of questions that are addressed in the field of comparative politics.
This module will introduce students to the long-established and vibrant field of comparative politics. Taught by leading experts in the field, this module offers the first step toward more advanced study in 2nd and 3rd year modules such as Politics of Developing Areas, African Politics in Comparative Perspective, and East Asian Transformations.
This module explores hot topics in politics today. Weekly seminar topics include democracy & democratisation, civil resistance, women in politics, domestic conflict, transitional justice & reconciliation, and emerging/rising powers.
Module director: Tina Freyburg
Dr Tina Freyburg is an Assistant Professor of Politics and International Studies in PAIS. Her current research projects explore new avenues in the study of the international dimension of democratization, in particular the democratizing potential of transgovernmental networks.Comparative Politics
Introduction to comparative politics…
PO133: Foundations of Political Economy
International Political Economy addresses some of the big questions facing contemporary society. In order to prepare students for in-depth study of these issues and begin to think like political economists, this module lays the foundation for studying political economy. Related 2nd and 3rd year modules include States & Markets, Politics of Developing Areas, Gender & Development, Politics of Globalisation, and East Asian Transformations.
Some of the big questions tackled in this module include:
- What exactly is a market and how do we know when we are acting within one?
- Why do some countries have faster growth than others, and is growth always a good thing?
- Where do economic crises come from?
- Who, what, and where are the working class? How does class interact with other elements of economic identity?
- Are we all capitalist now, and is this a condition that we should celebrate?
Module director: Christopher Holmes
Dr Christopher Holmes is an Assistant Professor of International Political Economy in PAIS. His research interests are framed by an underlying curiosity about the way in which ideas constitute and are constituted by political economic practices. His research points in several directions, including financial matters and in economic questions surrounding the environment and the history of economic thought and its relationship to ideas about justice, rationality and 'the good life'.Political Economy
How to think like a political economist…
PO134: Justice, Democracy, and Citizenship
Justice, democracy, and citizenship are fundamental ideals in politics. This module introduces normative political theory by focusing on and interrogating these ideals.
The first part of the module focuses on justice, asking questions such as: What would it mean to share the burdens of reducing greenhouse emissions fairly? Does a state have a duty to admit refugees when others refuse, even if it has taken its fair share already? Does the idea of a just war still make sense, and if so, what are the criteria for determining whether a war is just or not?
The second part homes in on democracy: What is democracy and why should we value it, given that it sometimes delivers unjust outcomes? Do representative institutions require radical overhaul in order to provide greater space for genuine deliberation? Should they be supplemented by 'democratic innovations' such as citizens' juries or polls?
The final part investigates citizenship: What does it mean to be a citizen of a state and who should be regarded as a citizen? Once states have admitted migrants, are they entitled to exclude them from citizenship? Is there a case for lowering the age at which children can vote? Should prisoners be allowed to vote?
Module director: Michael Saward
Dr Michael Saward is a Professor of Politics in PAIS. His key area of research is contemporary democratic theory. In recent years he has focused on a range of issues, including performance and democratic representation, democratic designs, and the role of political ideas in practical political life.Justice, Democracy, and Citizenship
Intro to political theory…
PO135: Nine Ideas in International Security
PAIS is known for having a large collection of experts in the field of international security, which enables us to offer a wide selection of security-related modules. Instead of taking a theory-driven approach, this module will introduce the major texts in international security from an ideas-driven perspective. Each lecture will be delivered either by a single person or by two people as adversaries.
Nine ideas in international security will be explored over the course of the year. In addition to exploring reasons to study international security, additional topics covered may include Feminism, the Economy, Sovereignty, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Refuge, Power, Civilisation, Religion, the Internet, and Conspiracy.
The module will provide a sollid foundation to pursue further IS study in a multitude of PAIS 2nd and 3rd year modules such as International Security, Ethnic Conflict & Political Violence, Critical Security Studies, and Vigiliant State.
Module director: Richard Aldrich
Dr Richard Aldrich is a Professor of International Security in PAIS. His main research interests lie in the area of intelligence and security communities. He also maintains related interests in issues of cyber security, liberty and privacy, set against a background of accelerating globalization. These wider interests extend to developments in information technology, including public key cryptography.Nine Ideas in IS
The big ideas in international security…