SSST Subjects

PS210  State and Government


Programme(s) where module is offered

  • BA in Political Science and International Relations

Status (core, option, free choice)



FHEQ Level



Unit Value



Semester taught



Pre-Requisite Modules or Qualifications



Module Code



Module coordinator

Zlatko Hadzidedic


Applicable From



Educational Aims of the Module

  • The course is designed to provide students with substantial knowledge of the concepts of state, state formation and government, examining its origins from the earliest times, through the middle ages, the 20th century, and beyond.
  • The course examines the phenomenon of state in its social, cultural and economic dimension. Following a general introduction to the history of polity and more specifically the modern state, students will be familiarised with the main theories of state, including a comparative analysis of the main forms of government, political systems, and institutional designs.
  • Readings of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Machiavelli, Marx and others will provide direct insight in the philosophical treatment of the concepts of the best state and the best form of government, and will provide a necessary historical narrative for the proper understanding of state evolution and its institutional development.
  • The second part of the course focuses on the main instruments of state and institutions of government, its normative framework and different types of state organizations. Students will be introduced to electoral systems and political parties’ formation and function, as well as the issue of political leadership and relations of non-governmental agents to state actors and institutions.
  • Overall aim of the course is to induce interest in and provide understanding of the concepts of state and government, their interdependence, future developments and challenges, and to prepare students for more empirically oriented courses in the fourth semester and senior years of study.

Module Outline/Syllabus

  • Course introduction: origin of state; concepts of sovereignty

  • Classical democracy

  • Republicanism: liberty, self-government, and the active citizen

  • Power and sovereignty

  • Liberty and the development of democracy

  • Direct democracy and the end of politics

  • Midterm exam

  • Competitive elitism and the technocratic vision

  • Pluralism, corporate capitalism and the state

  • From post-war stability to political crisis: the polarization of political ideals

  • Democracy after Soviet communism

  • Deliberative democracy and the defence of the public realm

  • Democratic autonomy

  • Democracy, the nation-state, and the global system

  • Course review


Student Engagement Hours

Type Number per Term Duration Total Time
Lectures 30

1 hour 30 minutes

90 hours

Total Guided/Independent Learning Hours 120
Total Contact Hours 90
Total Engagement Hours 210

Assessment Method Summary

Type Number Required Duration / Length Weighting Timing / Submission Deadline

Final exam

1 presentation followed by group discussion

3 hours


End of semester

Mid-term exam

1 2 hours 20% Week7

Case study presentation followed by group discussion


30 min.



Research paper


2500-3000 words


Week 13


Module Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • To clearly grasp key concepts and issues related to theory and phenomenon of state and government;

  • To understand the historical process of state formation;

  • To understand the main theories of state and analyse main writings of political philosophy on state, state function and formation;

  • In-depth comprehension of the idea and functioning of state institutions;

  • Ability to construct theoretically sound and empirically substantiated arguments on current issues and processes related to state and government;

  • Ability to critically analyse and interpret political events and phenomena, applying theoretical frameworks in different, new contexts.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Lectures/presentations by the course instructor (ILO: 1-4);

  • Course readings and group discussions in class (ILO: 1-4);

  • Individual and group presentations (ILO: 1,2,4)

  • Individual consultancy with students as needed (including detailed feedback on their work) (ILO: 3,4)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Course work – midterm exam (20%), research paper analysis (10%), case study presentation (20%) (ILO: 1-4)

  • Final Exam – 50% (ILO: 1-4)

Practical Skills:

  • Ability to interpret and assess scientific papers.

  • Ability to critically analyse empirical evidence.

  • Clarity of written argument and presentation.

  • Public speaking, clarity of oral argument and presentation.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Lectures, examples, and tools provided by instructor

  • In-depth discussion and analysis of course readings led by instructor (PS: 3)

  • Presentations by students (PS:2)(PS: 1-3)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Written Exam (PS: 1,3)

  • Individual Presentation (PS: 3)

  • Research paper (PS: 1,2)

Transferable Skills:

  • Ability to evaluate ideas, arguments and texts.

  • Ability to research, select and analyse information.

  • Ability to research and critically evaluate information.

  • Ability of multi-perspective analysis of political writings/ideas/issues.

  • Critical reflection on the current political phenomena, events, and developments.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Course readings and class discussions

  • Lectures and in-class exercises (TS: 1-4)

  • In-class presentations (TS:1,3,4)

  • Article analysis (TS: 1-3)(TS: 1-4)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Mid-term exam, research paper analysis, case study presentation

  • Final Exam (TS: 1-4)(TS: 1-4)


Key Texts and/or other learning materials

Set text

  • Held, D. (2014). Models of Democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press

Supplementary Materials

  • Plato (1992). The Republic. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.
  • Aristotle (1992). Politics. London: Penguin Group.
  • Machiavelli, N. (1988). The Prince. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hobbes, T. (1985). Leviathan. New York-London: Penguin Classics.
  • Locke, J (2003). Political Writings. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.
  • Mill, J.S. (2008). On Liberty and Other Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Tucker, R. (ed.) (1978). The Marx-Engels Reader. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  • Rousseau, J.J. (2011). Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.
  • Rousseau, J.J. (1987). On the Social Contract. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.
  • Rawls, J. (1999). A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Dahl, R. A. (1971). Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
  • Schumpeter, J.A. (1942). Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Please note

This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the module and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided.

More detailed information on the learning outcomes, content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each module and programme can be found in the departmental or programme handbook.

The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed annually by the University of Buckingham and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Date of Production : June 2016

Date approved by School Learning and Teaching Committee: Autumn 2007 

Date approved by School Board of Study :  Autumn 2007

Date approved by University Learning and Teaching Committee:  Autumn 2007

Date of Annual Review:  June 2016


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