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PO301: Issues in Political Theory

The module is a core element of a number of degree programmes, including Politics and International Studies. The aim of the module is to foster a detailed critical understanding of a range of arguments in contemporary political philosophy, and the ability to criticise, evaluate, and apply these arguments. The module consists of five elements: Conceptions of justice after John Rawls; Justice and the Welfare State; Dealing with Diversity; Justice beyond Borders; and Non-Ideal Justice. The main text used in the module is Will Kymlicka’s Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

PO921: Explanations in Social Science

This is a core module for stuents on the MA/Diploma in Politics and also open to postgraduate students in cognisant programmes. The module explores philosophical and methodological arguments relevant to research in the social and political sciences, focusing on the nature and role of explanation. The module draws upon materials from various disciplines, including philosophy, politics, economics, psychology, anthropology and sociology. Special attention is given to research that draws together arguments from different social science disciplines. Topical debates (such as global inequality, gender inequality, evolutionary explanation, and suicide missions) are used to illustrate competing modes of explanation; and attention is given to both well-established debates and recent controversies in the philosophy of social science. Topics covered include: causal explanation vs. interpretation; functional explanation; rationalism and empiricism; pragmatism and paradigms; rational choice theory; international and environmental applications of game theory; evolutionary psychology; and gender relations. The core text used for the course is Martin Hollis's The Philosophy of Social Science (Colorado: Westview, 1994).

IM909: Philosophies of Social Science

This module introduces students to some of the standard methodological and theoretical problems posed by social inquiry. Many of the issues to be discussed relate to one key question: are the methods of the social sciences essentially the same or essentially different from those of the natural sciences. The topics addressed by the module include: explanation and interpretation in social science; challenges to objectivity via standpoint epistemology, feminism, postmodernism and postcolonialism; explaining and understanding denial, conspiracy, and memory. The core text used for the course is: Ted Benton and Ian Craib's Philosophy of Social Science (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001);