MA Political Science - Political Theory Pathway (Standard Route)

Year of entry: 2022

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Course unit details:
Theoretical Approaches to Political Economy

Unit code POEC61011
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course is the core course for the MA in Political economy and will provide the theoretical grounding students require to pursue the other pathways for the programme. The course will typically cover classical, Marxian, institutionalist, Austrian and public choice perspectives in political economy. In exploring these traditions students will become familiar with some of the major theorists in each tradition including figures such as Hume, Smith, Ricardo, Mill, Marx, Polanyi, Mises, Hayek and Buchanan. The course will also involve the critical analysis of central concepts in political economy as they have developed in these traditions such as, value, welfare, power, liberty, equality, self-interest, development, efficiency and exploitation.


The unit aims to:
- provide students with the theoretical grounding in political economy which they can employ in whichever particular pathway of study they will pursue in the MA in Political Economy programme;
- introduce students to the central classical and contemporary traditions of political economy;
- enable students to understand and evaluate the arguments of the major theorists in those tradition;
- enable students to critically analyse and employ central concepts in political economy.

Learning outcomes

Students should/will (please delete as appropriate) be able to:
On completion of the course students will be able to:
- understand and evaluate the central claims and arguments by the different theorists and traditions in political economy;
- articulate the differences between these theorists and traditions;
- analyse and employ some of the central concepts of political economy.

On completion of the course students will be able to demonstrate:
- the ability to analyse the argument of key primary texts;
- the ability to formulate their own informed views about the traditions and texts studied;
- the ability to write a cogent and well-argued essay on a topic taken from the course unit;
- the ability to give a successful seminar presentation on a topic from the course unit.

On completion of the course students will be able to demonstrate:
- the ability to produce an advanced and substantial piece of individual written research work, to an agreed deadline;
- quote appropriately from published texts, and use one of the recognised referencing systems in line with the demands of accepted good practice in academic and professional writing;
- the ability to set appropriate goals and to work both independently and cooperatively.

On successful completion of this course unit, participants should have developed:
- analytic and critical skills;
- the ability to argue from evidence;
- the ability to communicate ideas effectively;
- problem solving skills

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will take place in 12 weeks. Each week will include a lecture and a two-hour seminar.

Assessment methods

To be confirmed

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 270

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Patrick Devine Unit coordinator
John O'Neill Unit coordinator
Matthew McCaffrey Unit coordinator
Sherilyn MacGregor Unit coordinator

Additional notes


Return to course details