What you will study
Understanding politics: ideas and institutions in the modern world is explored in six blocks.
Block 1: Introduction
The first block provides an introduction via the following core question: What is politics? By examining the many interpretations and impacts of this question, the block addresses ‘who?’ or ‘what?’ is political; it explores the spaces and places ‘where’ politics is conducted; and considers ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ politics is best practiced or studied.
Block 2: Political concepts
Block 2 explores political concepts and shows how ideas shape how we think about, talk about, and practise politics. It looks in turn at key concepts such as freedom, equality, power and sovereignty and examines how ideas can influence the social world and so offer helpful answers to urgent political questions.
Block 3: Ideas and ideologies
This block examines how concepts, once turned into ideologies, can be taken up and made use of by practitioners of politics and by the public. By being produced and consumed in a number of ‘public’ and ‘private’ locations, ideologies such as conservatism, liberalism, socialism and feminism offer explanatory frameworks which organise our opinions, help us interpret and navigate the political world, and provide us with some sense of identity.
Block 4: Political institutions in liberal democracies
Block 4 looks at political institutions in liberal democracies, comparing and contrasting the very different political systems of two particular nations, the UK and the US. It outlines their different executive, legislative and judicial arrangements, explains the structures of their constitutions, exploring the political roles of the Prime Minister and the President, political parties, electoral politics, interest groups and social movements.
Block 5: Global politics
In this block you will investigate global politics by looking at the interrelationship of the ‘national’ to the ‘international’, the ‘local’ to the ‘global’. The block introduces you to key themes and perspectives in the study of international politics, looking at the role of international institutions, non-state actors and issues, exploring the ways in which globalisation is making the world smaller and more interlinked.
Block 6: Revision
The module concludes by revising the key concerns, issues and arguments raised in the previous blocks.
Supporting study materials
The module is delivered online via the module website, which includes all study support, a multiplicity of online text, audio and visual assets, together with two printed module books.
You will learn
You will acquire and apply knowledge and understanding of key political debates, applying these to your understanding of the contemporary social world. This will help you explain and evaluate issues of ethical, social, political, policy and public concern, with the ability to assess their impact on real-world institutions and events.
As well as building your interdisciplinary social science knowledge, you will develop practical and transferable skills. These include critical thinking; report and essay writing; making presentations; ICT skills; collaborative working skills; synthesising and applying knowledge. You will also learn how to:
- manage your time effectively, organising and completing a programme of work to a specified standard
- learn from feedback from others
- critically reflect on your own learning.
This module offers a comprehensive grounding in the study of politics at OU level 2 and provides opportunities to develop skills that will be relevant to your current or future career.
Studying this module, as part of a social sciences qualification, could open up employment opportunities in a wide range of occupations in politics; business; banking; insurance; education; health professions; administration; law; social services; voluntary and campaigning organisations; the media; public relations; public service organisations and government (national and local); planning and environmental management; criminal justice system; and social welfare organisations. The module provides a set of transferable skills and aptitudes that are relevant to many other career pathways.