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School of Social Sciences

Student in the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons
BSocSc Politics and International Relations
Gain the skills to critical examine international and comparative politics.

BSocSc Politics and International Relations / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
American Politics: Why Do They Do That?

Unit code POLI31061
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This course offers students the opportunity to consider the nuances of American Politics. Working across three broad themes of democracy, inclusion and exclusion, the course provides a detailed examination of American Politics.  

Aims

The unit aims to:

  1. Provide students with overview of American political culture
  2. Detail the intersection of democracy, inclusion and exclusion
  3. Articulate this intersection by addressing question such as “Why do people vote against their own best interests?”; “How does the legacy of racism(s) manifest in and impact upon contemporary politics?”; “How does the ‘American independent spirit’ transform into political hegemony of ‘conformity and normalcy’?”; “How is power understood in America and in American politics?” 

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding: 

  1. Articulate an understanding of the evolution of American political culture and connect this to contemporary debates.
  1. Articulate an understanding of the complexity of American political culture and the intersections and tensions of democracy, inclusion and exclusion.

Intellectual skills: 

  1. Apply this new understanding to their everyday interpretations of American politics.

Practical skills: 

  1. Traditional academic essay writing;
  2. More informed spectators of American politics and consumers of news events involving America. 

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be taught through one 2hour lecture and one 1hour tutorial each week. This will be supplemented by reading of core pieces (provided on Blackboard), the expectation that students will read online US news outlets and special sessions which include films and guest speakers (via Skype). A list of films, novels and online blogs will be highly recommended for deepening knowledge of American political culture. 

Knowledge and understanding

  1. Articulate an understanding of the evolution of American political culture and connect this to contemporary debates.
  1. Articulate an understanding of the complexity of American political culture and the intersections and tensions of democracy, inclusion and exclusion.

Intellectual skills

  1. Apply this new understanding to their everyday interpretations of American politics.

Practical skills

  1. Traditional academic essay writing;
  2. More informed spectators of American politics and consumers of news events involving America. 

Assessment methods

Essay 4,000 words, 60%

Project: 2 projects worth 20% each and 750 words each.

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff8 

Recommended reading

Democracy in America, de Tocqueville

Anti-intellectualism in American Life, Hofstadter

What’s the Matter with Kansas?, Frank

American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony, Samuel Huntington

Race, Class, and Gender in the United States, Rothenberg

One Nation, Slightly Divisible, Brooks

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Angelia Wilson Unit coordinator

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