In this course we will introduce behavioural concepts and use them at explaining decisions of politicians, candidates for political office, voters, lobbyists, and other actors in the political and policymaking arena. The focus of the course will be academic but we will also visit the recent development by public policy practitioners –both the UK and the US have behavioural insights teams working closely with the executive branch.

We will analyse different political phenomena that do not perfectly fit our rational choice models. We will cover issues such as turnout in large elections, populist policies, framing of public policies to influence public opinion, attribution of blame to politicians, opt-in/opt-out policies and paternalism in policy recommendations, etc.  By introducing insights from psychology to our classical political economy models we will study the effects of social, cognitive, and emotional factors on political decisions. Parallel to this formal analysis we will also introduce experimental methods.


    Teacher: Picture of Rafael Hortala-Vallve

This course offers an advanced introduction to the contemporary politics of the Middle East and North Africa in transnational perspective. It takes a critical, sociological, historically-informed, and qualitative approach. It focuses particularly on cross-border structures of power and forms of resistance. We study such topics as transnational revolutionary movements, the new religious politics, neoliberalism, monarchy and migration, feminism, counter-insurgency, authoritarianism across borders, the regional uprisings of 2011, and horizontalism and radical democracy. Students will develop an advanced introductory understanding of the transnational politics of the region.

    Teacher: Picture of John Chalcraft

Course for the Department of Government research students to submit field seminar assessed essays

The course will be divided into three sections, corresponding to three major pillars of the study of political behaviour: elections, public opinion, and political identities. The three sections and ten themes, however, should be treated as highly inter-related rather than artificially divided. Themes include: citizens and politics: the democratic link, political psychology and the study of political behaviour; Electoral Behaviour: an overview; Alignments, Realignments, and De-alignments in contemporary Europe; Electoral Instability, Split-Ticket Voting, and Political Cynicism; Extreme right politics; Electoral Behaviour: Applied micro-level analysis; The media, public opinion, and political participation: introduction to the processes of political communication; Economic situation and public opinion: overview on electoral political economy; Public opinion and European integration; Transforming regional, national, and European identities; Political behaviour, political identities, and institutional answers: the social contract and the 'ultimate' democratic link.

    Teacher: Picture of Michael Bruter

The aim of the course is to provide a critical understanding of the phenomenon of international migration and in particular public policy-makers attempts to deal with the challenges it poses. More specifically, the course seeks to provide students with an ability to critically analyse public policy responses (both national and multi-national) to international migration across a selection of migrant categories (legal, irregular and forced migration) and thematic migration related themes (human rights, responsibility-sharing, development).

Ultimately, the course aims to develop an understanding of the factors shaping public policies regarding these areas and to help them assess the effects of such measures. To do so, the course seeks to channel this knowledge through a number of 'conceptual toolkits' developed in political science and related social science disciplines which aim to enable students to develop analytical skills that provide the foundation for future research degrees in this area or can be transferred into non-academic careers.

    Teacher: Office mug shotPicture of Eiko Thielemann

How can we distinguish legitimate political violence from terrorism? What is the relationship between war and terror? What distinguishes a combatant from non-combatant? Does 'winning hearts and minds' entail a coercive or cooperative policy approach? Do counterinsurgency methods based on force and the securitization of the state work? Should we erode civil liberties and democratic values to fight terrorism? This course attempts to answer these and similar questions by a comparative examination of the theories and ethics of political violence and the root causes, nature and types of violence. This course also evaluates different political and security policies and methods of conflict management. A number of case studies of historical and contemporary conflicts are examined to illustrate the theoretical and policy dilemmas. The course has a tripartite structure. First, it examines the ethical dilemmas in the use of violence by examining the politicisation of definitions, and the efficacy of the laws and norms of war. Second, we explore the ethical issues and the evolution of counterinsurgency policies through case studies of anti-colonial resistance during the Cold War and state policies pursued against insurgents and terrorists during recent internal armed conflicts. The final part of the course assesses what lessons have been learnt, if any, and what new challenges are posed by the 'war on terror', the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the increasing constraints on and abuses of civil liberties, and the emergence of Al Qa'ida as a transnational network. The course compares the performance of different regime types (colonial, democratic, transitional democratic, and authoritarian) in managing political violence. It also provides the deep background study necessary to properly evaluate root causes and the ethics of political violence, as well as the efficacy of political and security responses over time.

    Teacher: Picture of Mark BrycelandPicture of James Hughes

An introduction to and critical appraisal of Immanual Kant's political philosophy.

Despite the enormous influence which Kant's moral philosophy has exerted on debates in contemporary liberal thinking, his political philosophy has until recently been largely ignored. This is beginning to change: Kant's political philosophy is beginning to be studied in its own right. Such study shows that his political thinking diverges in many of its central aspects from contemporary liberal thinking: the impact of Kant's thought upon the latter must, therefore, be re-assessed. Through close reading and analysis of the primary texts, this course introduces students to Kant's distinctive approach to political thinking. Core texts will include selected passages from the Doctrine of Right (Part 1 of the Metaphysics of Morals); Kant's celebrated essay, 'On Perpetual Peace'; and his less well known, but no less important essay 'On the Common Saying: "This may be true in theory, but does it work in Practice".' The analytic and substantive focus will be on three interrelated themes: Kant's idea of freedom as an idea of reason; his account and justification of individual property rights; and his cosmopolitan conception of Right, or justice. Although the analytic and philosophical focus will be on Kant's own political thinking, we shall throughout compare and contrast Kant's position with contemporary Kantian liberalism.

    Teacher: Picture of Katrin Flikschuh

Freedom is one of the most important political concepts. It is seen by many as a supreme value that any decent society should promote, yet very different actions and policies are justified in its name. How can we make sense of this? What is freedom? How is it best understood? Why should we value it? This course addresses these and other related questions. It aims to introduce students to the main contemporary political-theoretical debates on the idea of freedom, from a broadly analytical perspective. The course is divided into three parts. The first focuses on conceptual disputes about freedom and when someone can be said to be free. The second is devoted to discussing the value of freedom, and its relationship to other, key political values – i.e. autonomy, equality, and stability. The third addresses substantive debates concerning some of the most important freedoms defended within the liberal ideology.

    Teacher: Picture of David Axelsen

The course examines social science explanations of the origins, intractability and outcomes of civil wars. It does this through the comparative analysis of various cases.. These cases may vary from year to year (but will include Ireland, Mozambique, Turkey, Algeria, and Yugoslavia). Particular stress is on: Definitions of Civil War. Patterns of civil war since 1945. Large N approaches to causality. Succession Crises. Decolonisation, Democratisation, and State Collapse as causes of civil war. The emergence of security dilemmas. The role of ethnicity in civil wars. Theories of conflict resolution, reconstruction and the settlement of civil wars.

    Teacher: Picture of William Kissane

The course explores the problems of delayed modernisation, problematic democratisation, elite-driven nation-building and geopolitical insecurity in the European semi-periphery, including countries in Eastern and South Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Southern Europe and Northern Europe (Scandinavia). It analyses the changing political, social and economic structures in the European semi-periphery from the first wave of liberal globalisation and the emergence of mass politics in the late 19th century, to the late 20th century. It explores the strategies adopted by political actors in the face of modernisation, imperial decline, nationalism, and war.

    Teacher: Picture of Sebastian BalfourPicture of Vesselin Dimitrov