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Undergraduate courses

POLITICAL STUDIES LEVEL 1000 MODULES

All Political Studies students do the same modules in the first year, that is POLS 1007 (Introduction to Political Studies) and POLS 1008 (States, Power and Governance)
 

POLS 1007: Introduction to Political Studies Semester 1 – Slot E

Entry Requirement: None

This unit aims to introduce students to foundational themes in Political Studies: ideologies, concepts and approaches to politics. It then explores South Africa in a globalized world, focussing on contemporary politics and issues that confront this generation in the 21st century.

POLS 1008: States, Power and Governance Semester 2 – Slot E

Entry Requirement: None

This unit examines different ways of ruling in selected states. It deals with issues such as state power, who rules, how and through what institutions. It pays specific attention to competing conceptions of how power should be distributed in different political cultures as well as its exercise through executive and other bodies. The unit looks at different case studies in the 20th century.

POLITICAL STUDIES LEVEL 2000 MODULES

 

HIST 2003: History of Sub-Saharan Africa Semester 1 - Slot B

Entry Requirement: 36 points in History or Political Studies

The first section, sub-Saharan Africa from the eighth to the nineteenth century, begins with an examination of the different approaches historians have adopted to Africa’s past. It then examines the nature of African societies, the impact of external influences on the continent, and the rise of the medieval West African empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai, as well as the Kingdom of the Kongo and Swahili society on the East African coast. The second section focuses on the twentieth century. It analyses the establishment of colonial administration, exploring the contradictory processes of African resistance and accommodation to conquest and to the entrenchment of colonial rule. The unit then looks at the years of hope of the colonial rulers (1920s) and the years of disenchantment of those subject to colonial rule (1930s). It assesses the environmental, economic and political impact of colonial rule, and traces the social and cultural transformations that this produced. It then investigates the growth of mass nationalist movements and of large scale ethnic or ‘tribal’ mobilization, focusing in particular on the influence of the depression years and the transformative effects of the Second World War. The dynamics of decolonization are explored, as well as selected aspects of the post 1950s African experience.

POLS 2006: Social Theories of Modernity Semester 1 - Slot D

Entry Requirement: 18 points on the 1000 level in Political Studies, History or Sociology, or 36 points in Political Studies if proceeding to a major.

This unit examines the political, social and economic dimensions of modernity and post-modernity. It begins with an introduction to the essential literature on the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment and their effects on western culture. The focus then turns to the principal political and economic institutions of modernity. This includes tracing the history of the modern European state from the collapse of feudalism to the emergence in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries of liberal and democratic state-forms. Several theoretical perspectives on modern capitalism and its relationship to the structures of the modern state are introduced and the various forms the state has assumed during the twentieth century - in particular the ‘social democratic’ and ‘neo-liberal’ forms - are studied in relation to the mutations of contemporary capitalism. A variety of ‘totalitarian’ responses to the challenges of modernity, including some forms of religious fundamentalism, are then considered before the unit concludes with an examination of the concept of ‘post-modernity’. In this connection the various philosophical and political claims challenging the premises of modernity are examined.

POLS 2002: Feminist Theory and Politics Semester 2 - Slot D

Entry Requirements: 18 points on the 1000 level in Political Studies, History or Sociology, or 36 points in Political Studies if proceeding to a major.

This unit aims to introduce students to issues in feminist theory and politics. The first part of the unit explores philosophical and theoretical debates in feminism historically. The unit engages with a range of feminist debates and critiques of conventional political theory as well. The unit evaluates the feminist contribution to broader political and social theory. The second part of the unit examines the rise of women’s movements. In this context, the unit considers issues of “difference” within the politics of the women’s movement and also analyses the debates within the development discourse.

POLS 2012: South Africa: Politics and Governance Semester 2 – Slot B Semester 2 - Slot D

Entry Requirement: Entry Requirements: 18 points on the 1000 level in Political Studies, History or Sociology, or 36 points in Political Studies if proceeding to a major.

Part one investigates democratic theory and practice in South Africa. Consideration is given to debates around the meaning and the practice of “democracy” in twentieth century

South Africa. The unit begins by considering theoretically the contested nature of traditional, liberal and popular democracy and the consequences which each of these has for our understanding of the nature and the public presentation of “the citizen”. Thereafter the unit considers in more detail the struggles over these various conceptions of democracy and democratic practice, before turning, finally, to the triumph of liberal democracy in 1994. The second part of POLS 2012 explores the conflicts and tensions surrounding selected issues in contemporary South African public policy and government. The course aims to help students to understand how the government works, and why policy and governance in the basic education and HIV/AIDS sectors are so highly contested.

POLITICAL STUDIES LEVEL 3000 MODULES

POLS 3003: Development Concepts and Experience Semester 1 - Slot C

Entry Requirement: 84 points from History and Political Studies at first and second levels.

This course revolves around a core question: why have some countries developed successfully over the past five centuries, whilst others, including some of the most developed countries in the thirteenth and fourteenth countries, have either failed to develop or stagnated? What made this unique period of economic growth possible? Possible answers, which will be explored throughout the course, include history (the slave trade, colonialism, etc.), institutions (bureaucratic governance, private property, etc.), geographical location, and culture (the Protestant work ethic, individualism, etc.). This leads to a second question: what if any ‘lessons’ for developing countries can be distilled from this model of economic growth? The answers to these questions are not at all straightforward or simplistic. If we have learnt anything from the post-War experience of development, it is just how complex the ‘problem of development’ is.

POLS 3018: Conflict, Stability and State Building in Africa Semester 1 - Slot C

Semester 2 - Slot C

Entry Requirement: Either 84 points in Political Studies or 42 points in Political Studies and 42 points in Sociology

This unit provides an introduction to political sociology through examining some of the most controversial topics within its field of enquiry. These include: the question of who voted for

Hitler (mass-based versus class-based theory); social psychological theories of political violence (frustration–aggression theory); the community power debate (pluralist versus elitist perspectives); and the meaning of “terrorism” (drawn out with reference to the Irish Republican Army). The second part of the unit centres on the study of “global civil society”. Here the key issues addressed are: how we interpret the phenomenon of “global civil society”; the “Battle” of Seattle (November–December 1999) and the Genoa (July 2001) protest; and the significance of the World Social Forum. Throughout the unit, the articulation of theory and method is highlighted to reveal the contested nature of political sociology. Using theories and case studies, this module identifies, explores and explains the elements that shape conflict and stability in contemporary states in Africa. Its focus is the nature of post-colonial states and state building in the context of modern conflicts on the continent. It considers historical and colonial legacies, the role of the international political economy and internal party politics and socio-cultural variables which help to explain political conflict and regime stability through the prism of case studies.

POLS 3008: Political Sociology Semester 1 – Slot C Semester 2 - Slot C

Entry Requirement: Either 84 points in Political Studies or 42 points in Political Studies and 42 points in Sociology

This unit provides an introduction to political sociology through examining some of the most controversial topics within its field of enquiry. These include: the question of who voted for

Hitler (mass-based versus class-based theory); social psychological theories of political violence (frustration–aggression theory); the community power debate (pluralist versus elitist perspectives); and the meaning of “terrorism” (drawn out with reference to the Irish Republican Army). The second part of the unit centres on the study of “global civil society”. Here the key issues addressed are: how we interpret the phenomenon of “global civil society”; the “Battle” of Seattle (November–December 1999) and the Genoa (July 2001) protest; and the significance of the World Social Forum. Throughout the unit, the articulation of theory and method is highlighted to reveal the contested nature of political sociology.

POLS 3016: The Politics and Ideologies of Redistribution Semester 2- Slot C

Entry Requirement: Either 84 points in Political Studies or 42 points in Political Studies and 42 points in Sociology

This unit examines various theories of social justice as developed in the North and South. It explores the ideological underpinnings of welfare states and developmental states, showing the path-dependent nature of redistributive policy. The unit then looks at institutional design and state capacities in different contexts, inviting students to adopt comparative perspectives in understanding the effectiveness of redistributive policies.

POLS 3017: Liberty, Justice and Politics of Difference Semester 2 - Slot C

Entry Requirement: Either 84 points in Political Studies or 42 points in Political Studies and 42 points in Sociology

This unit explores the major developments in normative political theory since the revival of the sub-discipline in the 1970s. Its focus is on the three major themes. The first is the relationship between the citizen and the state, taking in issues of globalization and social contract theory. The second is distributive justice, covering among other issues the relationship between liberty and equality. The final theme considers more recent debates around citizenship and difference, in particular the question of how democratic states accommodate gender diversity and group-rights claims that accompany contemporary multiculturalism. In the course of examining these topics students will be introduced to diverse philosophical standpoints including those of liberalism, conservatism, socialism, anarchism and feminism.

HIST 3003: History of the African City Semester 2 – Slot C Semester 2 - Slot C

Entry Requirement: 84 points from History and Political Studies at first and second levels

African cities predate colonial rule by at least 1000 years. This unit will focus on cities in sub-Saharan Africa. The first part of the unit will be a survey of African urbanization from the emergence of trading centres in West Africa linked to long distance trade across the Sahara through the construction of the essentially administrative centres of the colonial era to the modern era of African mega-cities, massive settlements that expand their boundaries and populations at a pace unequalled anywhere else in the world. The second half of the unit focuses on a series of case studies of particular towns, examining in detail their genesis, their social life, their geographical evolution and their politics. Case studies may include Lagos, Johannesburg, Luanda and Kinshasa.  

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