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Contemporary Social and Political Theory


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This is a credit bearing course but can also be taken as non-credit bearing.

Discover the difference between our credit bearing and non-credit bearing courses.

This Contemporary Social and Political Theory short course provides you with an understanding of the work of key thinkers and themes in contemporary social and political theory. We begin by considering the central themes of political and social theory that have developed out of the work of the classical social theorists, Marx, Durkheim and Weber.

We then turn to themes such as the character of mass societies and mass culture (the Frankfurt School), reflections on violence in relation to postcolonialism (Fanon) and the multiple of practices of power in the modern world (Foucault). You will be asked to adopt a critical approach to contemporary texts, asking to what extent they adequately describe and intervene in the character of social and political life in the present.

We plan to cover the following content:

  • Themes in contemporary social and political theory
  • Marx on class and capitalism
  • Durkheim on social solidarity
  • Weber on modernity
  • The Frankfurt School on mass culture
  • Arendt on totalitarianism and the human condition
  • Fanon on violence, colonisation and decolonisation
  • Rawls on justice
  • Foucault on power
  • Habermas on communicative action

Assessment is via a 500-word seminar log (10%) and three-hour examination (90%).

15 credits at level 6

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students.

    This Contemporary Social and Political Theory short course is taught at a level equivalent to Year 3 of an undergraduate degree. In order to fully engage with the class, you should have some previous knowledge of the subject, for example, by having successfully completed an introductory class at Level 4 (such as the first year of an undergraduate degree or one of our Certificate of Higher Education modules), or by having professional experience in this area.

    As part of the enrolment process, you may be required to submit a copy of a suitable form of ID.

    International students who wish to come to the UK to study a short course can apply for a Visitor visa. Please note that it is not possible to obtain a Student visa to study a short course.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You register directly onto the classes you would like to take. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then register onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.