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Politics and Philosophy BA

Department of Politics and International Relations

Department of Philosophy

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You are viewing this course for 2021-22 entry.

Key details

Course description

Photo of Dr Burak Tansel giving a seminar

This combination of subjects gives you the chance to examine ideas about human nature and society that underpin political theory. You'll study modules in the Department of Politics and the Department of Philosophy. Half your modules will be in politics, the other half in philosophy.

Politics teaching includes international relations, governance and public policy, political theory and comparative politics. The geographical areas covered include Europe (Central, Southern and Eastern Europe and the European Union), the Americas, Asia (South) and Africa.

First-year modules include Introduction to Political Analysis and An Introduction to Western Political Thought. In the second and third years, you'll take more compulsory and optional modules followed by a project module or a dissertation.

The philosophy side of the course is flexible. There are no compulsory modules. You can develop your understanding of key areas such as ethics, philosophy of mind, theory of knowledge, political philosophy, metaphysics and logic.

We also teach courses on major figures in the history of philosophy such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Hegel.

Dual and combined honours degrees

Modules

The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:

Title: Politics and Philosophy BA course structure
UCAS code: LV25
Years: 2021

Core modules:

Analysing Politics

This module is about (1) politics, and (2) how to analyse it. More specifically, it involves (1) understanding how power and truth operate in the contemporary world; and (2) discovering different ways to research these dynamics so to build compelling and rigorous accounts of the political worlds that we find ourselves a part. Students will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, and independent study; and will be assessed on the basis of an essay, a portfolio relating to seminar preparation, and an online multiple-choice test.

20 credits

Optional modules:

British Politics

This module will introduce students to key concepts and debates in British politics through an examination of post-1976 British political history. Each lecture will take as its starting-point one day in recent British history and will describe what happened on that day and what happened as a result of that day. Each of the seminars will then follow that discussion: paying particular attention to concepts and ideas within the study of politics which can help us make sense of those events.

20 credits
Introduction to Comparative Politics

This module examines the utility of the comparative approach to politics in an era of the proclaimed 'end of history' and 'global convergence'. It examines executives in a number of political systems. It focuses on 'constitutional engineering' by examining the effect that electoral and party systems have on the structure of executive authority and the types of executive commonly used in political systems. These are presidential, prime ministerial and mixed systems. It considers what is meant by 'strong' and 'weak' executives. The cases examined are: US presidency, Brazilian presidency, UK prime minister, German Federal Chancellor, Russian presidency and the French presidential system.

20 credits
Introduction to Global Political Economy

This module provides an introduction to global political economy (GPE). It covers key mainstream and critical theories and considers critically what GPE is. Following this, the main focus will be on sketching the outlines of the global economy (past and present) by considering particular commodities. This provides a novel way to introducing the student to the major processes of global trade, finance and production. It also considers the political economy of race, class and gender as core theoretical themes that interweave the empirical examination of the global political economy, from roughly 1500 through to the 21st century.

20 credits
Introduction to International Relations

This module will introduce students to the discipline of International Relations (IR) and therefore the study of global politics. IR is a complex, multi-level and multi-actor field whose terrain spans global to individual issues. To provide a comprehensive introduction to IR, the module will focus on two questions: 1) What is the subject matter of IR? And 2) What is the unit of analysis? Structuring the module as such will introduce students to key debates in IR and provide a broad overview of the subject matter (from global governance to individual activism) and different actors (from the UN to terrorists).

20 credits
Introduction to Western Political Thought

This module provides an introduction to key themes and thinkers in Western political thought. It explores the different meanings of the nature of politics and the political in this tradition. One key theme will be the relation between human nature and politics. This will be explored through a series of deep conflicts between reason and desire, the state and individual, and the public and private. These conflicts are examined through the different visions of politics of a selection of ancient and early modern thinkers. The module will also engage with critiques of the canon of Western political thought itself, in particular from a postcolonial perspective.

20 credits
Matters of Life and Death

What is so bad about death? Is life always a good? Is it always wrong for someone to take their own life? Would it be wrong to help someone die painlessly who was already dying of a painful illness? Is abortion ever, or always, morally permissible? Do animals have rights which we infringe by killing them or making them suffer? What, if anything, do we owe to the starving of the world? How, if at all, is killing in war-time morally different from other forms of killing? This course is designed to encourage students to think carefully and constructively about a range of life-and-death moral dilemmas, developing skills of analysis and critical reasoning. Topics discussed will include: death; suicide; euthanasia; abortion; animals; famine relief; and war. Arguments for and against various positions on these questions will be looked at; and some use will be made of moral theory to illuminate the issues.

20 credits
Mind, Brain and Personal Identity

This module provides an initial survey of a cluster of interrelated philosophical problems concerning the mind, free will, God, and the nature of persons. We will discuss questions like: What kind of thing is the mind? Is it a non-physical thing, like a soul? Or is it nothing over and above the brain? What is free will? Are we free? Does God exist? Is there an afterlife? What is a person? Do non-human animals have minds? Could they be persons? Could machines have minds or be persons?

20 credits
Self and Society

The aim of this module is to introduce students to philosophical problems in social science about the nature of the individual person, and the relation between individuals and society. We shall be discussing how the identity of an individual is constituted, and whether this identity is determined socially or otherwise. We shall also be discussing what a genuinely liberal state might be like, and whether we can argue for the desirability of such a state from the nature and needs of the individual.

20 credits
Writing Philosophy

Philosophical writing is a skill that you, the student, must hone early on in order to succeed in your degree. It is also a transferable skill that will serve you in your post-academic career. Philosophical writing combines the general virtues of clarity, organisation, focus and style found in other academic writing with particular philosophical virtues, namely, the ability to expose the implicit assumptions of analysed texts and to make explicit the logical structure of one's own and other people's arguments. A precondition of philosophical writing is a unique form of textual analysis that pays particular attention to its argumentative structure. In this module you will learn and practice philosophical writing. You will learn how to read in preparation for philosophical writing, learn how to plan an essay, learn how to rework your drafts and learn how to use feedback constructively. You will write fie drafts and five essays and will have one on on tutorial on each essay you write. The lectures in the course will be split between lectures of the art of writing and lectures on philosophical topics in the domain of fact and value. Essay topics will be based on the topical lectures and their associated readings

20 credits
Death

This module is mainly about death itself [whereas PHI125 is mainly about killing}. What is death? What happens to us when we die? Could there be an afterlife? Would it be a good thing if there were? What is it about death that we dislike so much, or that makes it bad? Is it rational, or even possible to fear death? What is the right attitude towards our own death? Do we have moral duties towards the dead? The course will clarify these questions and attempt to answer them. Readings will be taken from both historical and contemporary sources.

10 credits
Elementary Logic

The course will provide students with a theoretical knowledge of the fundamental parts of formal logic. It will also teach them a range of associated formal techniques with which they can then analyse and assess arguments. In particular, they will learn the languages of propositional and first-order logic, and they will learn how to use those languages in providing formal representations of everyday claims. They will also learn how to use truth-tables. Finally, students will learn how to prove things using that language.

10 credits
History of Ethics

This unit offers a critical introduction to the history of ethical thought in the West, examining some of the key ideas of e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, Rawls and Gilligan. It thus provides a textual introduction to some of the main types of ethical theory; the ethics of flourishing and virtue; deontology; utilitarianism; contractualism. The close interconnections between ethics and other branches of philosophy (e.g. metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics) will be highlighted, as will the connections between ethics and other disciplines (e.g. psychology, anthropology). Our main text will be Singer, P. (ed), 1994, Ethics, Oxford University Press.

10 credits
Knowledge, Justification and Doubt

In our age of post-truth politics and fake news, this course aims to introduce students to philosophy by investigating some basic problems in epistemology (i.e. the philosophical study of knowledge). We will address questions such as: what knowledge is and why it is important; what truth is; what kinds of things can be known and how; if and how perceptual experience gives us knowledge of an ¿external¿ world; whether all knowledge has to be grounded in experience; whether knowledge is socially constructed (and if so whether that is necessarily problematic); what role justice plays in our epistemic practices.

10 credits
Philosophy of Religion

There are two large questions typically considered by philosophers of religion. First, is there any good reason to believe that God exists? Second, are there reasons to think that the concept of God makes no sense? In this course we consider both questions. For the first question we look at two standard arguments for the existence of God: the Argument from Design and the First Cause Argument. As regards the second question, we consider the Problem of Evil: whether the existence of God, as generally conceived, is consistent with the existence of evil.

10 credits
Philosophy of Science

The aim of this half-module is to introduce some of the philosophical issues that arise in science and through reflecting on science. Most of the questions considered concern the epistemology of scientific knowledge: how we should represent scientific theories, what counts as evidence for these theories, how scientific explanations work, and how far we can treat science as revealing to us the truth about the underlying nature of reality. This course aims to introduce these questions as philosophical issues in their own right and within in the context of the history of the philosophy of science.

10 credits
Philosophy of Sex

Sex is one of the most basic human motivators, of fundamental importance in many people's lives, and a topic of enormous moral, religious, and political contention. No surprise, then, that it turns out to be of great philosophical interest. We will discuss moral issues related to sex' asking when we might be right to judge a particular sex act to be morally problematic; and what political significance (if any) sex has. We will also discuss metaphysical issues, such as the surprisingly difficult questions of what exactly sex is and what a sexual orientation is. Throughout our study, we will draw both on philosophical sources and on up-to-date contemporary information.

10 credits
Reason and Argument

Arguments are everywhere - in our newspapers, on our television screens and radios, in books and academic papers, on blogs and other websites. We argue with our friends, families, teachers and taxi drivers. These arguments are often important ¿ they help us to decide what to do, what to believe, whom to vote for, what car to buy, what career path to follow, or where we should attend university (and what we should study). The ability to recognise, evaluate and produce arguments is therefore immeasurably valuable in every aspect of life.This course will teach you how to recognise an argument, how to understand it, how to evaluate and criticise it, and how to produce your own. Students in this module will learn how to extract an argument from a complex text, how to uncover hidden assumptions, and how to recognise and critique bad reasoning

10 credits


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

Learning and assessment

Learning

Our lectures and seminars are structured in a variety of ways to ensure a rich, interactive learning experience that you can take with you in your future career. You'll create websites, videos and podcasts as part of your group work to enhance your digital skills. Other uses of digital learning, such as interactive polls, allows collaboration during lectures and seminars, and we use skype so that external speakers can interact with our students.

We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

Learning support facilities and library opening hours

Assessment

We use different assessment methods throughout our courses this varies between modules. Examples include:

  • Coursework
  • Exams
  • Dissertation
  • Short forms of written assessment
  • Projects
  • Book reviews
  • Policy reports
  • Oral presentation and group work

Programme specification

This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

Find programme specification for this course

Entry requirements

With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible

Standard offer
Access Sheffield offer

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
AAB

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
ABB

A Levels + additional qualifications | ABB + B in the EPQ; ABB + B in Core Maths

International Baccalaureate | 34 33

BTEC | DDD DDD

Scottish Highers | AAAAB AAABB

Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | B + AA B + AB

Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a relevant subject (Business Studies/ Management, Humanities, Law, Social Sciences) with Distinctions in 36 Level 3 credits and Merits in 9 Level 3 credits. 60 credits overall in a relevant subject (Business Studies/ Management, Humanities, Law, Social Sciences) with Distinctions in 30 Level 3 credits and Merits in 15 Level 3 credits.

Mature students - explore other routes for mature students

English language requirements

You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

Equivalent English language qualifications

Visa and immigration requirements

Other requirements
  • BTEC relevant subject areas required are either Applied Law, Business, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Personal and Business Finance, Applied Psychology, Applied Science or Environmental Sustainability. No other subjects are accepted.

  • GCSE Maths grade 4 or grade C or equivalent

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Department of Politics and International Relations

We are proud to be one of the UK's leading departments for research and teaching in politics and international relations.

We have over 50 specialists in the key areas of politics and international relations working at the cutting edge of the discipline on issues such as: Brexit, transgender politics, animal rights, environmentalism, populism and Middle East Politics. This research directly shapes and inspires what you're taught on all levels of our programmes.

We were the first department to pioneer the 'Parliamentary Studies' undergraduate module that's accredited and co-taught by the House of Commons.

Department of Politics and International Relations students are based in Elmfield building, but we timetable teaching across the whole of our campus.

Teaching may take place in Elmfield, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space. Many of the University buildings are close together so it’s easy to walk between them and it’s a good way to get to know the city.

Department of Politics and International Relations

Department of Philosophy

We pride ourselves on the diversity of our modules and the high quality of our teaching. Our staff are among the best in the world at what they do. They're active researchers so your lectures and seminars are informed, relevant and exciting. We'll teach you how to think carefully, analytically and creatively.

Our staff and students use philosophy to engage with real world issues. You will be able to use what you learn to make a difference in the community, through projects like Philosophy in the City, an innovative and award-winning programme that enables students to teach philosophy in schools, homeless shelters and centres for the elderly.

Our students run a thriving Philosophy Society and the only UK undergraduate philosophy journal. Our Centre for Engaged Philosophy pursues research into questions of fundamental political and social importance, from criminal justice and social inclusion to climate ethics, all topics that are covered in our teaching.

Philosophy changes our perspective on the world, and equips and motivates us to make a difference.

The Department of Philosophy is based at 45 Victoria Street at the heart of the University campus. We're close to the Diamond and the Information Commons, as well as Jessop West, which houses our fellow Arts & Humanities departments of History, English and Languages & Cultures.

Department of Philosophy

Why choose Sheffield?

The University of Sheffield

  A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings

  Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014

  No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017


Department of Politics and International Relations

UK top three for research

Research Excellence Framework 2014

UK top 10 for politics

The Complete University Guide 2020
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020

Our politics and international relations courses are ranked 7th in the UK

The Complete University Guide 2020


Department of Philosophy

96% overall student satisfaction

National Student Survey 2019

3rd in the Russell Group for student satisfaction

National Student Survey 2019


Graduate careers

Department of Politics and International Relations

A politics degree from Sheffield can set you apart from everyone else. You'll have many opportunities across all levels of your course to add valuable work experience and transferable skills to your CV.

Our degree programmes are designed so you can tailor your course to your own interests and career aspirations. They also provide a foundation to go on to work in a wide range of professional, political and administrative organisations across the world, in local, national, and international government, the charitable sector, education, the media, public relations, research and the private sector.

Department of Philosophy

Studying philosophy will develop your ability to analyse and state a case clearly, evaluate arguments and be precise in your thinking. These skills will put you in a strong position when it comes to finding employment or going on to further study.

Our graduates work in teaching, law, social work, computing, the civil service, journalism, paid charity work, business, insurance and accountancy. Many also go on to study philosophy at postgraduate level.

Placement and study abroad

We have a range of options for studying abroad within Europe or further afield - including the USA, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong. In addition, on most of our degrees you can upgrade to a four year Degree with International Experience, during which you spend your third year abroad studying or working - or a combination of the two.

We also offer the Degree with Employment Experience option. This allows you to spend a year taking a work placement in government, a private company, an international organisation or a charity.

In your final year you can also choose to write a work-based learning dissertation, a piece of research that solves a real-world problem for an organisation.

Fees and funding

Fees

Additional costs

The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

Examples of what’s included and excluded

Funding your study

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

Visit us

University open days

There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

Open days: book your place

Taster days

At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.

Upcoming taster sessions

Applicant days

If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

Campus tours

Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Book your place on a campus tour

Apply for this course

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How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
www.ucas.com

The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

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Explore this course:

    2021-2022