University of Chester

Programme Specification
Politics BA (Hons) (Single Honours)
2016 - 2017

Bachelor of Arts (Single Honours)

Politics

Politics (including a Foundation Year)

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

4 years full-time

7 Years

Annual - September

L204

L200

No

17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Social and Political Science

Politics and International Relations

N/A

Learning and Teaching Institute (Level 3); Social and Political Science (Level 4 - 6)

Monday 18th January 2016

The educational aims of the programme are consistent with the educational aims of a politics degree as set out in the benchmark statement for Politics and International Relations. They are also consistent with the QAA's FHEQ stipulation for a 'bachelor's degree with honours' level descriptor as referred to in the benchmark statement and as mapped across this programme specification under the learning outcomes section.

They are as follows:

  • To place questions of politics and international order and decision-making at the centre of analysis
  • To ensure that students acquire knowledge and understanding in appropriate areas of theory and analysis
  • To enable students to understand and use concepts, approaches and methods of their discipline and develop an understanding of their contested nature and the problematic character of inquiry in the discipline
  • To develop in students a capacity to think critically and independently about events , ideas and institutions
  • To encourage students to relate the academic study of politics to questions of public concern and to relate the academic theory to policies in practice
  • To assist students to develop a range of cognitive and social skills relevant to their intellectual, vocational and personal development
  • To provide a curriculum supported by scholarship, staff development and a research culture that promotes breadth and depth of intellectual enquiry and debate
  • To create a learning environment that is receptive to the needs and views of students and encourages them to achieve their full potential

Specifically, graduates will be able to demonstrate a wide range of abilities and skills in:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the subject
  • Generic intellectual skills
  • Personal transferable skills

(benchmark 4.12 and 4.13)

In addition, the programme- related educational aims will be for students to achieve the learning outcomes linked to the individual modules, which in turn link back to the programme-wide educational aims.

Learning outcomes for the Politics Single Honours Programme conform to the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement (February 2015). Individual modules have set their own learning outcomes to reflect these as appropriate and to link with the programme learning outcomes shown above. The programme as a whole delivers all these skills and individual modules will incorporate some or more of the skills. The learning outcomes for the modules are written to reflect both knowledge and understanding and the more applied skills for the modules.

Knowledge and Understanding represents a key area of the Subject Benchmark (4.13).

By the end of Level 3 students should be able to:

 

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of terms and concepts relevant to the pathway subject-specific modules.
  • Use academic study skills at the required level for further study at the University.
  • Identify how theory can be applied to real-life situations.
  • Be aware of how undergraduate study prepares students for the world of work.

 FHEQ Level Four

On completion of FHEQ Level Four and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • understand the nature and significance of politics as a human activity
  • apply concepts, theories and methods used in the study of politics to the analysis of political ideas, institutions and practices, relative to the historical and contemporary context.

These will be taught in:

  • Introduction to British Politics (SO4701)
  • Thinking about Politics and International Relations (SO4704)

FHEQ Level Five

On completion of FHEQ Level Five and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different political systems; the nature and distribution of power in them; the social, economic, historical and cultural contexts within which they operate; and the relationships between them

These will be taught in:

  • Politics and Policies (SO5701)
  • The Individual and the State (SO5702)

Global Politics and International Relations (SO5703)

FHEQ Level Six

On completion of FHEQ Level Six and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • comprehend how politics is mediated to understand and evaluate different interpretations of political issues and events.

These will be taught in:

  • Political Communication (SO6702)
  • Politics of Sustainability (SO6703)
  • Security and Insecurity in World Affairs (SO6704) 

Cognitive Skills are drawn from the Benchmark Statement’s section on Generic Intellectual and Transferable Skills (4.15).

 

By the end of Level 3, students should be able to:

  • Analyse, interpret and summarise information.
  • Write in an academic manner.
  • Begin to reflect on their own learning and use feedback as part of this process.
  • Demonstrate independent learning.
  • Integrate a variety of information sources to come to a conclusion.

 

FHEQ Level Four

On completion of FHEQ Level Four and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and primary sources
  • reflect on their own learning and seek and make use of constructive feedback
  • recognise the importance of explicit referencing and the ethical requirements of study which requires critical and reflective use of information and communications technology in the learning process.

These will be taught in:

  • Introduction to British Politics (SO4701)
  • Comparative Politics (SO4703)
  • Thinking about Politics and International Relations (SO4704)

FHEQ Level Five

On completion of FHEQ Level Five learners will be able to:

  • identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems
  • manage their own learning self-critically
  • use communication and information technology, including audio-visual technology, for the retrieval and presentation of information and where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
  • apply employability skills

 These will be taught in:

  • Politics and Policies (SO5701)
  • The Individual and the State (SO5702)
  • Global Politics and International Relations (SO5703)
  • Research Methods (SO5103)
  • Work Based Learning (WB5101)

FHEQ Level Six

On completion of FHEQ Level Six and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • construct reasoned argument, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement
  • utilise inter-cultural skills/global awareness, particularly in relation to employability
  • collaborate with others to achieve common goals through, for example, group work, group projects, and group presentations. Employers regard collaboration and the identification of common goals highly. This is especially so as public sector organisations and other

 These will be taught in:

  • Political Communication (SO6702)
  • Politics of Sustainability (SO6703)
  • Security and Insecurity in World Affairs (SO6704)
  • Dissertation (SO6706)

Practical Skills are drawn from the Benchmark Statement’s section on Generic Intellectual and Transferable Skills (4.15).

 

By the end of Level 3, students should be able to:

  • Retrieve and collate information from a variety of sources.
  • Use proficient reading and writing skills in preparation for the next level of study.
  • Demonstrate ability in Business, Law and Social Sciences applications.
  • Present computing and numerical skill in the production of their assessed work.
  • Work with others for problem-solving activities.

 

FHEQ Level Four

On completion of FHEQ Level Four and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • reflect on their own learning and seek and make use of constructive feedback

FHEQ Level Five

On completion of FHEQ Level Five learners will be able to:

  • communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing.

 These will be taught in:

  • Politics and Policies (SO5701)
  • The Individual and the State (SO5702)
  • Global Politics and International Relations (SO5703)
  • Research Methods (SO5103)
  • Work Based Learning (WB5101)

 FHEQ Level Six

On completion of FHEQ Level Six and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  •  progress through the degree programme to become mature, independent learners who can demonstrate initiative, self-organisation and time management attributes. The ability to identify opportunities for continuous learning and development, leading to future continuous professional development, is particularly valued by employers
  • critically analyse and disseminate information

 These will be taught in:

  • Political Communication (SO6702)
  • Politics of Sustainability (SO6703)
  • Security and Insecurity in World Affairs (SO6704)
  • Dissertation (SO6706)

Communication Skills are drawn from the Benchmark Statement’s section on Generic Intellectual and Transferable Skills (4.15).

By the end of the level 3 students should be able to:

  • Communicate the ideas of others and their own ideas in an academic format.
  • Use IT applications effectively for research and presentation purposes.
  • Discuss and debate relevant topics and ideas as part of the learning process.
  • Convert researched information to a summarised form.

FHEQ Level Four

On completion of FHEQ Level Four and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and primary sources

FHEQ Level Five

On completion of FHEQ Level Five learners will be able to:

  • use communication and information technology, including audio-visual technology, for the retrieval and presentation of information and where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
  • communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing.

 These will be taught in:

  • Politics and Policies (SO5701)
  • The Individual and the State (SO5702)
  • Global Politics and International Relations (SO5703)
  • Research Methods (SO5103)
  • Work Based Learning (WB5101)

  FHEQ Level Six

On completion of FHEQ Level Six and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • collaborate with others to achieve common goals through, for example, group work, group projects, and group presentations.

These will be taught in:

  • Political Communication (SO6702)
  • Security and Insecurity in World Affairs (SO6704)

The subject benchmark statement suggests that 'all that can be asked of institutions is that they should continue to develop their teaching and research and to offer to their students a curriculum which is founded on the discipline which has developed to date; which reflects their particular approach to the discipline and which draws on their specialist strengths'. It therefore acknowledges the broad scope of the subject area and the opportunity for individual programmes to tailor the guidance to their own strengths. The benchmark points out that 'perhaps in no other academic discipline are the subject matter and approaches so much in contention and in flux'. In line with this guidance, the subject is taught at the University of Chester from an interdisciplinary perspective drawing on the strengths of our staff and their particular subject expertise. This results in a wide- ranging curriculum, reflecting a number of discipline areas (as sanctioned and encouraged by the benchmark) but also providing key central level-related building blocks.

The foundation year comprises six modules listed in section 24b.  

At the programme's core is an emphasis on employability skills, which is evident throughout the curriculum, within individual modules and in the way in which modules link. Employability skills are delivered in both a broad manner- encompassing for example inter-disciplinary perspectives; but also with the emphasis on relevance and the application to practice. The curriculum makes links throughout between the theoretical base and practice, using case studies, scenario planning and re-enactments. There are visits to political institutions, and guest speakers invited to the University. These opportunities for real work exposure become especially important at a time of recession, where graduates are less in demand and where honing relevant skills is all the more crucial. Work Based Learning offers students the opportunity to undertake a 5-week placement. During the placement, students have the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and abilities appropriate to any work setting. Students are free to arrange their own placement, or undertake one arranged by the Work Based Learning Office. The placement need not necessarily be related to a student's academic discipline(s). Whilst all efforts are made to match students to placements which align closely with their academic interests and /or prospective career, this is not always feasible. The number of placements available is sometimes restricted, particularly in certain specialist areas, and some students may have to complete placements in organisations or roles outside their preferred specialism.

The curriculum addresses the local targets set out in the Departmental Learning and Teaching Strategy which are: work towards facilitating employability; lifelong learning and reflective engagement with the wider society; develop assessments which support student learning, engagement, progress and achievement; promote diversity in the student experience and academic practice; use technology to underpin the educational provision; provide professional development which enhances learning and teaching, and pursue innovation, scholarship and research.

Study Abroad:

Students can take the programme as a five year rather than four year route which offers the possibility of one year abroad. Study Abroad students taking their forth year abroad need to register on WB5008. This module will be offered as a complementary year of study abroad to students who have successfully completed their third-year (Level 5) of study.  Students for Study Abroad must be recommended for the module, and the study programme that the student undertakes must be agreed with the department(s) that the student is studying in. Students must have successfully completed Level 5 with an overall average of 55% or higher (2.2 average), to receive final approval to participate in WB5008.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
FP3002 0 University Study Skills 20 Comp
FP3003 0 Independent Project 20 Comp
FP3102 0 Introduction to the Social Sciences 20 Comp
FP3103 0 Introduction to Law 20 Comp
FP3104 0 Foundation Maths 20 Comp
FP3105 0 Global Perspectives 20 Comp
EU4102 4 Introduction to European Studies 20 Optional
SO4005 4 Economic Thought and International Politics 20 Optional
SO4102 4 Self and Society 20 Optional
SO4103 4 Welfare Politics 20 Comp
SO4104 4 Media, Representation and Society 20 Optional
SO4105 4 International Political Sociology 20 Optional
SO4304 4 The Criminal Justice Process 20 Optional
SO4305 4 Crime, Continuities & Change 20 Optional
SO4701 4 Introduction to British Politics 20 Comp
SO4703 4 Comparative Politics 20 Comp
SO4704 4 Thinking about Politics and International Relations 20 Comp
EU5202 5 European Politics and Culture 20 Optional
SO5051 5 Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism 20 Optional
SO5103 5 Research Methods 20 Comp
SO5106 5 Citizenship and the Modern World 20 Optional
SO5305 5 'Dangerousness', Mental Health and Crime 20 Optional
SO5307 5 War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity 20 Optional
SO5701 5 Politics and Policies 20 Comp
SO5702 5 The Individual and the State 20 Comp
SO5703 5 Global Politics and International Relations 20 Comp
WB5008 5 The Study Abroad Experience 120 N/A
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Comp
EU6302 6 European Project 20 Optional
SO6051 6 International Political Economy 20 N/A
SO6053 6 Politics of the Middle East 20 N/A
SO6055 6 The Art of War 20 Optional
SO6102 6 Social Change and Social Movements 20 Optional
SO6104 6 Debates in Sociology 20 N/A
SO6303 6 Criminal Representations 20 Optional
SO6305 6 Crime Prevention and Community Safety 20 Optional
SO6702 6 Political Communication 20 Comp
SO6703 6 Politics of Sustainability 20 Comp
SO6704 6 Security and Insecurity in World Affairs 20 Comp
SO6706 6 Politics Dissertation 40 Comp

120 credits at Level 3 entitles the student to a Foundation Certificate in Business, Law and Social Sciences

120 credits at Level 4 entitles the student to a Certificate of Higher Education

240 credits at Level 5 entitles the student to a Diploma of Higher Education

360 credits at Level 6 entitles the student to a Bachelor's degree

N/A

UCAS points:

180 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent.

BTEC:

BTEC Extended Diploma - MPP-MMP

BTEC Diploma MM

Irish/Scottish Highers:

C in 4 subjects

International Baccaluareate:

24 points

Access

Access to HE Diploma - Pass

Extra Information;

Other vocational qualifications at Level 3 will also be considered, such as NVQs.

If you are a mature student (21 or over) and have been out of education for a while or do not have experience or qualifications at Level 3 (equivalent to A Levels), then our Foundation Year courses will help you to develop the skills and knowledge you will need to succeed in your chosen degree.

University of Chester is committed to a policy of widening access and participation by groups currently under represented in Higher Education.  To this end, we will consider a diverse range of entry qualifications and, if you are a mature student and do not hold the minimum formal qualifications, your application will be treated on an individual basis and your previous experience will be taken into account when assessing your suitability to the programme.

 In keeping with the mission statement of the University of Chester and the Department's commitment to widening access and participation, we will offer a flexible entry system for mature students and for those who possess non-standard entry qualifications.

The subject benchmark has provided the basis for skills development across the modules, and the broad template for the mix of learning, teaching and assessment on the programme as a whole (and within specific modules). As it is non-prescriptive, the programme has been able to apply the guidance in accordance with available resources. The curriculum development process started with the proposed content as suggested by the benchmark; the methods of teaching and learning and the methods of assessment were all checked against the benchmark. The result has been that this programme will deliver (where appropriate) the recommendations found therein. This has been weighed against expertise and resources as programme development takes place within a clear institutional as well as wider context.

 

The learning, teaching and assessment methods for the foundation year (level 3) are designed to development students’ academic skills and subject knowledge to successfully prepare them for their undergraduate degree programmes. There will be a focus on introducing students to the mode of delivery they will experience at undergraduate level on programmes across the University. These include the development of professional skills, seminars, lectures, debate, group and individual projects, and confidence with presentations and group discussion. Diversity of assessment types enables students to practise and demonstrate a wide set of knowledge and skills. There will also be instances whereby assessments will have a relationship with real-world scenarios and professional practice. Examples of assessments are group and individual presentations, exams, essays, posters and the development of a portfolio or project.

Formative assessment is a key component of development on the foundation year (level 3). This will be used so that students can monitor their own performance, reflect on their development and prepare for summative assessments. This is particularly salient for the study skills provision, where skills development will be continuously (self) appraised by students and lecturers via group and personal tutorials. The subject-specific modules and study skills curriculum are not delivered as two distinct areas of the foundation year. Students will need to demonstrate proficiency in academic study skills throughout all of their modules.

A key aspect of the foundation year (level 3) will be the identification and development of critical thinking skills and reflection on one's own progress. This will be 'situated' within the University Study Skills module but students will be expected to utilise skills-based learning from this module across the programme. The programme aims to give students opportunities to take charge of their own learning by identifying their own interests and areas for development.

In keeping with the University's commitment to diversity, progression and retention, teaching and learning methods on this programme are diverse and enable students of varying abilities to develop to their full potential. The teaching team will use their knowledge of learning and teaching methods to create a strong team teaching ethos with an emphasis on evaluation and reflection. Formative work is linked to the skills required to pass the summative assessment. The team will work with Student Support and Guidance and with Learning Support to ensure that all learning and teaching material is accessible to all students.

Sources which have informed the programme's teaching and learning strategy include the Departmental Teaching and Learning Strategy, HE educational theory ( for example as gained from interaction with the University of Chester Learning and Teaching Institute) and the Subject Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics- which has extensive resources on teaching and learning. In addition, guidance has been sought from the Political Studies Association, specifically the Teaching and Learning Specialist Group, and from academic sources such as journals on learning and teaching, some with a specific emphasis on politics.

The result is a wide range of forms of teaching and learning, in keeping with the template set out by the benchmark statement.

The benchmark statement identifies teaching and learning methods designed to:

  • meet aims and objectives of the programme
  • foster knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject
  • stimulate engagement and participation in the learning process
  • encourage deep rather than surface learning by students
  • encourage students to reflect on and take responsibility for their own learning
  • take account of the different circumstances and needs of students (benchmark 5.1)

All assessments (formative and summative) have been developed with the above criteria in mind.

The benchmark suggests that forms of teaching include an appropriate balance drawn from among the following:

  • lectures, tutorials, workshops
  • whole group, small group, individual teaching
  • student-led and tutor-led sessions
  • skills-based, discussion- based and knowledge-based classes
  • tutor-student interaction including face to face, via IT and in some cases, specially designed learning materials (benchmark 5.2)

These, the benchmark suggests, allow the students to develop and demonstrate the skills identified in section 26. The benchmark emphasises that student learning takes place in a variety of settings and that politics students learn through:

  • speaking, listening, reading. writing
  • engagement with printed, oral, broadcast and electronic sources
  • group and individual work
  • observation participation and reflection

And are expected to use a range of learning methods which include:

  • critical reading of a wide range of texts
  • independent research using both primary/ secondary sources
  • group discussion
  • contact with political actors (benchmark 5.5 and 5.6)

Experience of all the above is provided at some point across the programme. In addition, some modules are more likely than others to draw on guest speakers, and undertake visits which would result in 'contact with political actors'.

Each module descriptor specifies the learning and teaching methods appropriate for that module, and which will build formative development towards the achievement of learning outcomes through summative assessment.

The overall strategy is one of supporting students in reaching their potential, and mindful of the various agendas within the University to ensure retention and progression. Members of the teaching team are familiar with the requirement to provide a positive learning experience for our students, and to put an emphasis on formative and developmental work. The employability skills USP has also driven the assessment strategy, to ensure assessments are appropriate for the development of employability skills.

In keeping with the learning and teaching methods outlined in the benchmark statement, assessment will be varied across the modules and across levels. Given the USP of employability skills for the programme, assessments also reflect the needs of employers for graduates with skills requisite with a politics degree, and will include for example report, policy and executive summary writing skills. All summative assessment is preceded by formative assessment which will embed the skills needed for achieving the learning outcomes through the summative assessment.

The benchmark suggests that assessment methods are designed to

  • meet the aims and objectives of the programme
  • promote student learning
  • be capable of being used for diagnostic, formative, summative purposes
  • be valid reliable and fairly administered
  • allow students to demonstrate their learning according to explicit and transparent assessment criteria
  • provide appropriate opportunities for feedback (benchmark 5.7)

and that forms of assessment can include an appropriate balance of a wide range of options, which the benchmark lists. The assessment grid maps out a wide and innovative range of assessments.

The benchmark statement is clear about the characteristics of a politics graduate (with a 'bachelor's degree with honours') and in its aim to define 'graduateness' in politics. It describes it in terms of three areas of: performance, knowledge and understanding; generic intellectual skills and personal transferable skills. Student achievement is expressed according to the benchmark in terms of learning outcomes on the successful completion of the programme. The benchmark identifies in some detail typical and threshold standards in the three areas of performance (above).

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

In practical terms, the Department works with colleagues from Student Support & Guidance and from Marketing Recruitment and Admissions to ensure the various agendas are taken into account. In addition, the Institution's Teaching and Learning Strategy (reflected in the Departmental and the Programme strategies) sets out specific aims as part of the diversity agenda.

The programme team have little influence over who applies to the programme, but will provide support and guidance for students with for example, diverse abilities, through the formative approach to teaching and learning which is embedded in the programme. The drive to retain students, and to enable them to progress, also means that the teaching team are strongly student-focused. The programme team will be mindful of statistics which identify trends in recruitment and retention, and will endeavour, through working with colleagues in for example Aim Higher, as well as working with local Colleges to encourage Access entrants, to address diversity and equality issues. The subject matter of a number of the modules is likely as well to challenge and to analyse particular political positions on these agendas.

In summary, the programme aims to achieve breadth and relevance and to ensure that all students, regardless of their other subject, achieve the outcomes expected of a politics graduate. The key emphasis is on employability skills, and therefore a core tenet is the work-based learning module at Level 5. A combined honours route is also offered.

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