Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)


Department: Government and International Affairs


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap
Tied to L2K107


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with an opportunity to investigate the logic and epistemology of political ideology as a distinct form of understanding.
  • To provide students with an advanced understanding of how various forms of ideological argument have been and are used in political discourse.
  • To enable students critically to evaluate contemporary scholarship in the field of political ideology.
  • To provide students with an advanced knowledge and understanding of the forms of political argument in the contemporary world.


  • After an introductory lecture, the module will consist of two-hour seminars at which students present and discuss papers on the following topics:
  • 1. The nature of Ideological Argument
  • 2. Forms of Liberalism
  • 3. Conservatism: Ideology and Tradition
  • 4. Nationalism and Internationalism
  • 5. Fascism
  • 6. Marxism
  • 7. Ideology and Religious ' Fundamentalism
  • 8. The 'End of Ideology'
  • The lecture will conclude with a one-hour lecture by way of summary and overview.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students should have:
  • The ability to master the complex and specialised area of knowledge and skills concerning:-
  • the principal approaches to the philosophical study of political ideology;
  • the main epistemological issues raised by the consideration of ideology as a form of understanding;
  • the main ideological currents that appear to shape political discourse in the contemporary 'postmodern' world.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should be able to demonstrate:
  • The ability to use and criticize relevant advanced theoretical models and approaches to the study of ideological argument.
  • The ability to interpret and analyse ideological texts and arguments and to relate them to various contexts.
  • The ability to recognize, analyse and account for the part played by ideological argument in the practice of politics.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should be able to demonstrate:
  • Independent learning within a defined framework of study at an advanced level.
  • Independent thought in analysing and critiquing existing scholarship on the subject area and in evaluating its contribution.
  • The ability to work to a deadline and complete written work within word limits.
  • Advanced essay-writing skills.
  • The ability to seek out and use relevant data sources, including electronic and bibliographic sources.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • After an Introductory lecture, the module will be taught by means of two-hour seminars based on student presentations followed by guided discussion and lecturer feedback. The seminars will enable the students to develop their abilities to conduct research, to communicate, to present theoretical alternatives and data, and to develop their own argumentation skills. They will further allow the students opportunity to exchange ideas, to explore issues and arguments that interest or concern them in greater depth, and to receive feedback from both the group and the lecturer on their own understanding and presentation.
  • Students are required to submit a 1500-word formative essay half way through the module. This enables them to practice their essay-writing skills, to assess their own progress, and to receive feedback on whether they are achieving at the appropriate level, whether they are sufficiently informed, and they are sufficiently informed, and they are expressing themselves appropriately.
  • Students are required to submit a summative essay of 4,000 words at the end of the module. This enables them to demonstrate that they have sufficient subject knowledge to meet the assessment criteria, that they have achieved the subject skills and that they have acquired the key skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 2 At the beginning and end of the module 1 2
Seminars 8 weekly 2 16
Preparation & Reading 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 4,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students will be required to submit a formative essay of 1500 words half way through the module.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University