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All Postgraduate Modules

Political Science postgraduate modules for 2020/21. All title links will take you to the UCL module catalogue where you can find detailed descriptions and more information on the modules you are interested in studying.
Modules

Energy and Climate Policy (PUBL0016)

This applied course will provide students with a background in energy and climate change issues from a multidisciplinary perspective. Students will be introduced to climate change science and policy, international climate negotiations and climate finance, business and sustainability, demand-side energy policy and economics, supply-side energy policy and economics, global resources and mining, and wider environmental policy issues.

Modules

The Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights (PUBL0018)

The ultimate aim of the modules is to equip students with the tools to decide for themselves, from an informed point of view, what can appropriately be called a human right, what cannot, and what limits they have, what the best defence there is of them, and how to think about ethical questions when confronting practical decisions in their research. They will be encouraged to develop analytical and critical argument-building skills, tools for problem solving, and to engage in analysis and debate in preparation for writing an essay that sets out a clear argument. 

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Theories of International Relations (PUBL0024)

This module provides a graduate-level introduction to the main strands of thinking in International Relations (IR). Its primary concern is to examine and assess each approach's foundational assumptions, its method and scope of problem definition, its understanding of the units of global politics; how it conceptualises international institutions, and the relationship between agency and international structure. As we progress, we also want to ask ourselves about the relationship between the different approaches. Are these approaches necessarily exclusionary? Do bridges and connections exist between them?

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PUBL0026 Public Ethics

This module explores the ethical dimensions of politics. It investigates the moral responsibilities of politicians, public servants and citizens; it examines various philosophical methods through which one might morally evaluate the behaviour these actors exhibit and the policies they enact; and it evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of these methods.

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PUBL0032 International Law and Human Rights

This module focuses on human rights as a domain of international law. The course will explore the theory and practice of international law and how this affects our understanding of human rights. Students should expect to understand and think critically about what is entailed when a right gains international legal status. 

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PUBL0033 Parliaments, Political Parties and Policy Making

This module explores the role and functions of legislatures and the parties that dominate them in the modern state. Taking a comparative approach, illustrated with numerous case studies of different countries, it asks which factors matter to the role of parliaments/legislatures today.

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PUBL0036 Governing Divided Societies

This module addresses options in the design of governing institutions for societies that are divided along lines of ethnicity, religion, language, or culture. It will cover both states with historic minorities and states that have experienced waves of immigration. The module will address issues of citizenship and membership in a community, as well as notions of group versus individual rights. It will also cover options for various democratic designs, including institutional systems and electoral structures intended to minimize conflict between identity groups. Case studies are introduced as examples throughout the module. The module emphasizes ongoing governance questions in diverse polities in order to understand how to better increase stability in highly divided societies.

Modules

PUBL0048 Leadership and Organisational Behaviour

The proposed module goes beyond the analysis of leadership theories, and aims at developing the student’s leadership skills. This is a hands-on module, where students learn about specific frameworks, models, and perspectives on effectively leading small, medium and large groups of employees in public, private and non-profit organisations. Students begin by covering introductory theories to leadership and then move into discovering which type of leaders they are.

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PUBL0049 Global Public Policy

Fostering cooperation among state and non-state actors and across cultures and levels of development challenges the political imagination. What is more the number of states whose cooperation is essential continues to increase and nationalism endures. In this module we draw on theories of the policy process and international relations and investigate some case examples to develop our understanding of how to rise to this challenge. 

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PUBL0059 Human Rights, Accountability & World Politics

In this module students will develop an understanding of political violence, the human rights regime and the role of international institutions, states, and non-state actors. The lectures and readings will introduce students to major theoretical frameworks for understanding state use of violence and compliance with human rights obligations using both historical and comparative approaches to the topic. We will examine what social science can contribute to our understanding of human rights and the role of international institutions, states, and non-state actors. 

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PUBL0071 Contemporary Political Philosophy

Why shouldn’t we be anarchists? What good reasons are there for obeying the state and the law? Under what circumstances may we break the law? When, if ever, is revolution or secession justified? What is democracy? What is valuable about democracy? What makes a democratic state legitimate?

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International Political Economy (PUBL0004)

This module introduces students to the study of international political economy (IPE). In this class students will be introduced to the principal perspectives on several of the key issues and topics in IPE, including international trade, investment, and development. We will discuss and critically assess critically recent theories and evidence on which political and economic forces enable and constrain global economic relations.

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Public Management: Theories and Innovations (PUBL0008)

In this module, we will examine the role of public bureaucracies in the policy making process, with a strong focus on reforms within and across public agencies, reforms collectively known as the “New Public Management”. We will begin with a look at some of the basic questions of public administration, such as, why do public bureaucracies exist, how have they evolved over time and why does their organisational structure matter for making public policy. 

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Health Policy and Reform (PUBL0009)

This module provides a comparative examination of health policy together with a study of policy reforms in the organisation and financing of health care. It enables students to analyse and evaluate different kinds of health systems and the likely health, financial and political effects of current reform proposals.

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Qualitative Methods: Interviews, Observations and Mixed Methods (PUBL0010)

Why do people participate in fascist movements? Why are some people generous to refugees and migrants in times of need? What is the experience of a factory worker in 21st century China? Why do fewer women run for political office? Can you go "undercover" to do research political science? What is a “natural experiment” in politics? How do I conduct an interview that generates interesting information?

Modules

Public Policy Economics and Analysis (PUBL0011)

*This module is only available to students in the Department of Political Science. It is a compulsory programme module for students on the following programmes; MSc Public Policy, MSc European Policy and Politics and MSc International Public Policy. Students with pre-requisite backgrounds with majors in economics or pure economic degrees may apply to opt out of this module.  

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The Ethics of Poverty (PUBL0013)

Are international institutions, like the WTO, violating the human rights of the poor across the world? Are we in affluent countries responsible for violating the rights of the poor? Is poverty itself a human rights violation? How should we define poverty and what is the relationship between poverty and development? How do both relate to human rights?

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Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Management and Policy (PUBL0014)

In recent years there has been growing political and theoretical focus upon the contribution of non- profit and voluntary sector organisations within modern market-based democracies. Increasingly governments look to non-profit organisations, charities, cooperatives or social enterprises to provide remedies to social problems; at the same time voluntary organisations within civil society seek to regulate and to change the behaviours of governments and of the market.

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Terrorism (PUBL0015)

This module will acquaint students with the main theoretical debates and empirical findings in the research on terrorism. It covers the topic from both a contemporary and an historical perspective and examines terrorism as a strategic tool of intra-state and transnational warfare. 

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Making Policy Work (PUBL0017)

Policy-makers face day-to-day choices about how to achieve their objectives. They need to know about how to use the resources under their command to get the best results. This module is about how policy-makers can use these tools of government effectively, and what evidence is there about what works most effectively. 

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Policy-Making and Regulation in Europe (PUBL0019)

This module develops students’ knowledge of how policy-making takes place and policies are made in the European Union (EU). The module introduces principal theories of EU policymaking relating to the main stages of the policy process: agenda-setting, decision-making and policy implementation.

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The European Union, Globalisation and the State (PUBL0021)

Demands to “take back control”, protests against economic globalisation, and increasing contestation over supranational and global governance currently dominate politics in Britain and Europe. In this module, we submit such issues and debates to systematic analysis, and ask why, how and with what consequences EU membership and economic globalisation are transforming the state as we know it. 

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Meanings of Liberty (PUBL0022)

*This is a compulsory module for students registered on the MA Legal and Political Theory programme and is not available as an optional module.

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Equality, Justice and Difference (PUBL0023)

How should we deal with diversity? Human beings differ in our religious convictions, our cultural identities, our race and ethnicity, our privilege, our gender, our sexual orientation, our ability levels, and more. This module examines one of the most pressing political problems facing contemporary pluralist societies: how can we ensure that all individuals are treated equally, while respecting the fact that each individual is different?

Modules

Agenda Setting and Public Policy (PUBL0027)

Agenda Setting and Public Policy is about how political participants seek to influence the policy agenda. The module has as its main focus the agenda-setting role of the media and public opinion on public policy. Drawing on recent work, the module places special emphasis on the extent to which the internet and the use of social media have challenged decision-makers and affected the policymaking process.

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Law and Regulation I (PUBL0031)

In this module, we will be examining the political, economic, social and legal issues surrounding the enactment, implementation and enforcement of regulatory policy. We will begin by discussing various justifications for regulation, with particular focus on the market failure framework.

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Democratic Political Institutions (PUBL0034)

This module begins by setting out two approaches to human behavior: the individualist, economic view,and the sociological, relational view. These two approaches provide two different understandings of how institutions structure social behavior. The remainder of the module considers different institutions in democracy within these different motivational perspectives.

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Human Rights: Politics and Practice (PUBL0035)

Human rights are inherently political. This module turns away from philosophical and legal approaches to focus on political (and other social) science perspectives on human rights. It focuses on the messy institutional politics of the international human rights regime, on the wide range of actors that engage with human rights at the international and national level and examines the gap between human rights law on the books and rights in practice. 

Modules

Foreign Policy Analysis (PUBL0037)

How is foreign policy made, and who makes it? This course examines the theory, history, and practice of foreign policy through a comparative lens. We will investigate the process by which foreign policy goals are established and policy tools are designed to help meet these goals. Much of our attention will focus on identifying the factors that influence the foreign policy making process across various institutional structures, and the models used in the academic literature to capture this process both theoretically and empirically.

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Gendering the Study of Politics: Theory and Practice (PUBL0038)

The module provides an overview of key topics, both theoretical and policy-related, in politics and gender. In weeks one and two, the history of feminism and main feminist, gender and queer theories (including those on intersectionality, masculinity, sexuality, and the body) are explored. The rest of the first part of the module looks at the impact of gender on ‘political’ activities, the concepts and practices of citizenship, and how to develop gender sensitive public policies. 

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International Organisations: Theory and Practice (PUBL0089)

International organisations have become an increasingly common feature of the global political landscape. Institutions shape interstate politics in a wide variety of areas, ranging from trade and investment to the environment and human rights. The purpose of this module is to introduce students the various roles institutions play in contemporary politics. 

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Rebellion (PUBL0044)

This module will examine a variety of alternative theoretical explanations for how civil conflicts begin. The module begins with an overview of the disciplines knowledge about the determinants of civil conflict.

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Global Ethics (PUBL0045)

This course examines three key aspects of contemporary international ethics, and their interconnections. The first part is devoted to an analysis and discussion of the main theories of global distributive justice: cosmopolitanism, statism and nationalism. The second focuses on the pressure that these theories put on the notion of citizenship. 

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Conflict Resolution and Post-War Development (PUBL0046)

This course focuses on why and how conflicts do (not) end, and the political, economic, social and psychological challenges facing post-war societies. The course begins by discussing the obstacles inherent in the war-to-peace transition and the relationship between post-conflict development, social reconciliation, state-building, and peace.

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Advanced Quantitative Methods (PUBL0050)

This course provides an introduction to statistical methods used for causal inference in the social sciences. We will be concerned with understanding how and when it is possible to make causal claims in empirical research. In particular, we will focus on understanding which assumptions are necessary for giving research a causal interpretation, and on learning a range of approaches that can be used to establish causality empirically.

Modules

War and International Law (PUBL0051)

This module explores issues of war, peace, and human rights from the perspective of international law. In particular, we will examine the law on the use of force (the jus ad bellum), international humanitarian law (the jus in bello), international human rights law, and international criminal law.

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Capstone Project (PUBL0053)

The capstone project is an opportunity to bring together academic analysis with applied policy work.  There is no fixed format for a capstone.  Projects range from working in a consultant capacity for a client organization to independent work orientated to a practical purpose, for example writing a business plan establishing a non-profit organization.

Modules

Dissertation (PUBL0054)

Your dissertation is a piece of original and supervised research on a topic relating to some aspect of your field of study. The dissertation should include both critical engagement with the literature and, where relevant, extant (policy) debates in the chosen area, and a significant element of original research and independent analysis.

Modules

Introduction to Quantitative Methods (PUBL0055)

*This module is only available to students in the Department of Political Science 

This module is designed to introduce you to and help you become familiar with quantitative methodologies critical to your development as a social scientist. The introductory methods module has two primary aims. 

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Normative Methods, Legal Analysis and Research Skills (PUBL0057)

*This module is only available to MA Human Rights students
Two key areas of knowledge and methodological understanding in human rights research are what the law says or provides for in terms of human rights and what ethical arguments can be used for adopting specific policies and aims (or for not doing so) in relation to human rights.

Modules

International Trade Policy (PUBL0060)

The causes and consequences of trade liberalisation are both subjects of lengthy debates, as is the relationship between international trade and other aspects of the global economy. This module explores the political economy of trade in its broader context, applying insights from this body of research to related components of economic globalisation, such as foreign investment and monetary policy. 

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Global Governance (PUBL0061)

*This is a compulsory module for students registered on the MSc Global Governance and Ethics programme and is not available as an optional module.

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Impact Evaluation Methods (PUBL0064)

This module considers methods for quantifying the causal impacts of social and economic programmes in both the government and non-government sectors. How many more people are in work because of a policy to help those on the margins of the labour market? Does including a free pen in a charity mail shot increase the probability of response? Does more education for girls in developing countries promote child outcomes in the next generation? 

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Public Finance Budgeting (PUBL0065)

Public finance management and public sector budgeting play a fundamental role in balancing the social and economic objectives of the  state and acts as a significant determinant of macroeconomic performance. The importance of having strong public finance management systems along with comprehensive and transparent evaluation of fiscal risk was further highlighted by the 2008 financial crisis. A prerequisite component for achieving these goals is an efficient budgeting process.

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Policy Advice (PUBL0069)

This module introduces students to the study and practice of policy advice. Graduates of SPP’s MPA and public policy degrees frequently become producers or users of policy advice in their careers. This module seeks to help students prepare for this role. It familiarises students with foundational scholarship on policy analysis. 

Modules

Contemporary Political Philosophy II (PUBL0072)

What is social justice? Why, if at all, should we redistribute wealth in society? Is equality something we ought to aim for? If so, what kind of equality? This module explores these and other questions through the lens of analytical political philosophy. We will critically examine some of the most influential answers provided by contemporary political philosophers, such as John Rawls, G. A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, Elizabeth Anderson, Robert Nozick, and Iris Marion Young.

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Dissertation LPT (PUBL0073)

Your dissertation is a piece of original and supervised research on a topic relating to some aspect of your field of study. The dissertation should include both critical engagement with the literature and, where relevant, extant (policy) debates in the chosen area, and a significant element of original research and independent analysis.

Modules

The Political Economy of Development (PUBL0074)

This module will examine how ideas about development help us understand the various ways the world is divided into rich and poor. We will critically examine the idea that the world can be understood as composed of the rich, industrialised “developed” countries (or global “North”) and the poorer “majority world” (or global “South”), and – using a critical approach to the processes of development – we will emphasize the interaction of politics with society, culture and economics.

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Voters, Public Opinion and Participation (PUBL0082)

Democracy is widely viewed as an important ideal. In theory it should ensure that governments are responsive to the needs and desires of their citizens and that they are held accountable for their actions in office. On the other hand, as Winston Churchill is once alleged to have said, “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” 

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Violent and Non-Violent Conflict (PUBL0083) MSc Security Studies students in the Department of Political Science only

The module introduces students to the major themes and debates in the study of conflict processes with a focus on non-state actors and their impact on international security. It surveys a range of issues, including the causes and management of civil wars, violence against civilians, the transnational diffusion of violent and non-violent conflict, individual participation in political contention, as well as post-conflict economic, political, and social reconstruction. In addition, the module covers the causes and impact of non-violent challenges to state authority.

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Social Justice, Social Mobility, Education and the Family (PUBL0084)

Social mobility is a hot political topic because it is seen as a key indicator of equality of opportunity and social justice. Informed by reflection on and discussion of our personal trajectories from our own social origins to our current social position, we begin by examining the empirical evidence about patterns of social mobility. Particular attention is given to the UK but students are welcome to draw on resources concerning other societies.

Modules

Introduction to Qualitative Methods: Researching Politics Using Texts, Transcripts and Images (PUBL0085)

*This module is only available to students in the Department of Political Science
How are Afghan women represented in the media? Do populist parties really get more broadcast airtime than mainstream political leaders? How do politicians present themselves online and on social media? What does it mean if we find that three different researchers understand archival sources in three different ways? 

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Qualitative Methods: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis (PUBL0086)

This module covers the basics of research design with an emphasis on comparative case study method. The first part of the module is devoted to developing a research question, constructing testable theories, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of comparative case studies, and concept formation. The second part of the module focuses on specific research tools used in comparative studies (e.g. historical analysis/process-tracing, field research, archival research) and their relative strengths and weaknesses. The final section of the module addresses the ways in which scholars combine different methods to study political phenomena.

Modules

International Negotiation (PUBL0088)

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of international negotiation. Through a combination of lectures, case studies and practical simulations students will be introduced to key concepts of negotiation theory and develop basic negotiation skills. 

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International Public Policy (PUBL0090) Only open to MSc IPP students in the Department of Political Science

The module provides an introduction: a conceptual overview and empirical illustrations intended to help students understand and analyse the key challenges, actors, and institutions of contemporary international public policy. Students learn how to think analytically and critically about topics and policy challenges in global governance, how to conceptualise problems, how to think through the incentives and constraints of policymakers, state and non-state actors, and the potential for and limitations of collective action and institutions. We typically cover these foundations in the first part of the course and then spend the second part of the course discussing specific issue areas. The module typically covers topics such as international security, international trade, development, human rights, democracy, and the environment. 

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Migration, Politics and Policy (PUBL0093)

This module explores the political economy of migration (forced and otherwise) in the 21st century.  During the module students may engage with literature from political science, economics, political psychological and migration studies on the ongoing debates about migration and optimal migration policies.  Topics may include the consequences of legal rights of migrants, gendered migration, the real economic impact of migration (migration and the labour market), forced migration, the nexus between migration and conflict and migration and security. Incoming students are expected to have a familiarity with core concepts in political science, political economy, or international relations.

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The Ethics of Social Media (PUBL0094)

This module explores a series of difficult philosophical questions about the ethically appropriate design, regulation, and usage of social media platforms. Foremost among these is the question of how companies and policymakers should deal with the wide range of harmful content on social media – such terrorist propaganda, hate speech, disinformation, and cyber-harassment. How can we protect individuals, and our democratic institutions, from the harms this content might cause, while simultaneously upholding freedom of speech? Potential further topics include privacy, the ethics of algorithms and AI, and the norms that should govern online political discourse.

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European Politics, Policy and Law in Practice (PUBL0095)

This course complements your academic study of EU politics, policy and law with practice-led learning. It is taught through a curated programme of moderated conversations with guest speakers who are practitioners in these fields, combined with practical task-based sessions centred on exercises in the production of formats of analysis used in practice.

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NOT RUNNING IN 2020/21 PUBL0020 The European Union in the World

This module analyses the European Union’s role in global politics. You will learn to explain and critically assess the EU’s actorness, effectiveness and influence across the range of its foreign policies. The module first introduces the conceptual and normative debate about Europe's global role; discusses the origins of the EU as a global actor; and familiarises you with the institutions, instruments and decision-making of EU foreign policy.

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NOT RUNNING IN 2020/2021 PUBL0025 Globalisation

The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have brought many unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Globalisation and the flattening of the world mean that countries and individuals are intertwined like never before in history. Against this backdrop, standards of living in many countries have skyrocketed, millions of people have escaped poverty, and countless others have capitalized on new opportunities in work and life. 

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NOT RUNNING IN 2020/21 PUBL0029 Strategy and Organisational Change

Strategy and organisational change is a hands-on module where students learn about specific frameworks, models, and perspectives on effectively managing change in public, private and non- profit organisations. Students begin by covering introductory theories to strategy and organisational change and then move into the key concepts of how change occurs within an organisation.

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NOT RUNNING IN 2020/21 PUBL0047 Democracy and Accountability: Holding Power to Account

The module examines the variety of mechanisms and institutions which have been developed to scrutinise government and hold it to account. Each week will focus on a different area, with an invited speaker who is a practitioner in the area under discussion. The institutional focus will be linked to continuing discussion of the nature of scrutiny and accountability.

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NOT RUNNING IN 2020/2021 PUBL0056 Global Business Regulation

This module is designed to help students understand how business regulation operates in a global economy. We examine why regulation moves from the domestic to the international level, who demands it, who supplies it, what effects international regulatory regimes have on domestic implementation of regulations and how we evaluate the overall effects of such regulations.

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NOT RUNNING 2020/21 PUBL0066 The Ethics of Counter-Terrorism

This module is an advanced study of various problems in normative political and moral philosophy that bear on counter-terrorism policy. It explores a series of questions about the moral principles that should guide and constrain the state’s efforts to prevent terrorist attacks on its citizens. It begins by assessing terrorism itself. What is terrorism, and what makes it morally distinctive among various forms of violence? Is terrorism necessarily wrongful, or could it be morally justified under certain conditions?

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PUBL0087 From Cyberwarfare to Robots: The Future of Global Conflict in the Digital Age

Technological innovation and the fourth industrial revolution are introducing technologies that are rapidly shifting the nature of international interactions and global conflict.  Drawing upon the theoretical security literature and current policy discourse, this module considers the strategic, regulatory, legal and ethical dimensions of the use of new technologies including cyberwarfare, AI and autonomous weapons systems, big data, blockchain and securing IoT.  

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NOT RUNNING 2020/21 PUBL0091 Business and Government

This module provides an overview of business and politics drawing on an interdisciplinary approach from Political Science, Public Management, Business studies and Political Economy. It typically will explore concepts such as business power in politics, the rise of the firm as a political actor, interest intermediation in a comparative political context; Interest group organisation and lobbying strategies; management of political strategies and corporate political activity; government affairs offices and revolving doors. Drawing on examples, students will be encouraged to apply analytical skills to study how business designs and implements effective lobbying strategies.