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PPR.389: Communicating Politics

Department: Politics, Philosophy and Religion NCF Level: FHEQ/QCF/NQF6//RQF6
Study Level: Part II (yr 3) Credit Points: 15.0
Start Date: 05-10-2015 End Date: 11-12-2015
Available for Online Enrolment?: Y Enrolment Restriction: Fully available to all students
Module Convenor: Dr MT Johnson

Syllabus Rules and Pre-requisites

Curriculum Design: Outline Syllabus

  • This course seeks to enable students to explain politics to those without comprehensive understandings of the subject. There are four interrelated sections to the module.

    In the first part, the module seeks to identify and consolidate awareness of the basic definitions of core concepts required to explain politics to lay audiences. It then seeks to place those concepts within the much broader disciplinary framework that experts in the subject require in order to develop programmes of communication to and knowledge exchange with those audiences.

    In the second part, the module seeks to analyse and identify the key qualities required to communicate political ideas orally and visually. Tracing some of the core trends in the history of political communication and rhetoric, the sessions in this section seek to equip students with the skills required to present short, effective talks, in particular, on politics and their areas of interest. This leads into the first, presentational, assessment in week 5.

    In the third part, the module seeks to examine the fundamental components of effective writing. Beginning, with general discussion of content, structure and style, the section then seeks to apply those principles to three formats of relevance to Politics students and graduates - essays, dissertations and reports - before asking students reflexively to build on their experiences of receiving feedback to develop means of providing constructive criticism to others. This leads into the second, feedback, assessment in week 8.

    The final section considers alternative means of demonstrating and explaining political theory, institutions and behaviours through simulations and role plays. Drawing on the increasingly rich literature on the use of simulations in IR, in particular, students are introduced to the rationale of the approach and the importance of contexts and characters in developing successful events. Students will develop their own role plays as their third, simulation, assessment and will have an opportunity to test and revise their work in the final week of teaching.

    Session topics typically included: 

    • Understanding politics: identifying the political from the family to the UN
    • Understanding politics: methods of understanding the political
    • Presenting politics: clarity, cogency, coherence and concision
    • Presenting politics: audience, style and illustrations
    • Writing politics: content, structure and style
    • Writing politics: analysing essays, dissertations and reports
    • Writing politics: providing constructive feedback
    • Demonstrating politics: simulations and role plays and their rationale
    • Demonstrating politics: shaping backgrounds and creating characters
    • Demonstrating Politics: testing simulations


Curriculum Design: Single, Combined or Consortial Schemes to which the Module Contributes

  • This is an optional module for students on all single and combined UG Politics, Philosophy and Religious Studies schemes.

  • 80% Coursework
  • 20% Presentation (Assessed)

Assessment: Details of Assessment

  • This course is assessed by a combination of:

    i) an individual six minute recorded presentation, to take place in week 5 (20%). Students will have six minutes in which to: a) define politics and discuss its scope, b) identify and describe a political issue that they regard as being important and/or interesting and, c) explain how that issue can be approached, researched and analysed

    ii) two 500 word feedback reports be submitted in week 8 (40%). Two 500 word written feedback sheets on plans for, and a writing sample from, two school student Extended Projects. The projects will be broadly within the field of Politics. Students will not need prior, detailed knowledge of the specific topic of the projects. They will be expected to acquaint themselves with the topic and provide some comments on content and, potentially, research on that content, but their main focus will lie in providing feedback on the feasibility, research methods and structure of the plan and the clarity, cohesiveness and style of the writing sample. The feedback will be doubleblind, with both the projects and the feedback completed anonymously. There will be no direct contact between Sixth Form EPQ student and PPR Politics student.

    iii) a 2,500 word coursework simulation script  (role play) to be submitted at the end of the term in which the module is taught (40%). The role play will a) outline the relevant background and context to the crisis, b) set out the institutional and procedural structure within which actors work and through which the crisis is negotiated, c) describe the actors within the structure, outlining their characters, interests, agendas, powers and capacities, d) set out the ends to which the participants in the role must work, and e) list any injunctions to be deployed to ensure that the scenario remains fluid, dynamic and interesting.

    All forms of assessment will evaluate the ability of students to apply conceptual and analytical tools to real world issues. 

Educational Aims: Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • This module seeks to enable students to convey the knowledge they have gained throughout their studies to audiences without extensive knowledge of politics. The module is divided into four parts: i) understanding politics, ii) presenting politics, iii) writing politics, and iv) demonstrating politics.

    On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

    (a) consolidate knowledge of clear, concise definitions of core political concepts;

    (b) place political concepts, approaches and research methods within a comprehensible framework;

    (c) identify and understand key features in effective oral and visual presentation of political ideas;

    (d) present political concepts and ideas effectively;

    (e) understand the core qualities required to write effective Politics essays and reports;

    (f) provide constructive criticism of work in Politics;

    (g) understand alternative pedagogical methods and the place of simulations and role-plays in Politics;

    (h) develop knowledge of the background and context of their topic of choice for their simulation assessment;

    (i) understand the motivations of actors in their simulation;

    (j) appreciate the importance of audience background, interests and qualities in explaining politics to lay audiences;

    (k) appreciate the importance of innovation, engagement and enthusiasm in communicating with specific audiences,

    (l) help Sixth Form students develop an interest in Politics and the skills required to enter Higher Education.

Educational Aims: General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

    (a) articulate definitions of concepts effectively;

    (b) present ideas with structure, concision and clarity;

    (c) develop interpersonal skills; work in groups;

    (d) plan essays, dissertations and reports to include relevant content, effective structure and good style;

    (e) provide constructive feedback on the work of others;

    (f) empathise with others through development of the characters in the simulation and consideration of audience needs;

    (g) communicate effectively in different forms (spoken, written) and different contexts with different groups;

    (h) demonstrate enthusiasm for a subject,

    (i) organise schedules by meeting assessment deadlines.

Learning Outcomes: Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate:

    a)                  knowledge of clear, concise definitions of core political concepts

    b)                  the relevance of political concepts, approaches and research methods

    c)                   effective oral and visual presentation of political ideas and concepts

    d)                  effective Politics essay and report writing skills

    e)                  constructive criticism of work in Politics

    f)                   the capacity to formulate knowledge of the background and context of topic of choice for simulation assessment

Learning Outcomes: General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate:

    a)      presentational skills

    b)      essay, dissertation and report writing skills

    c)       the capacity to evaluate the key features of an argument

    d)      the capacity to provide constructive feedback on the work of others

    e)      the capacity to communicate in different forms (spoken, written) and different contexts with different groups

    f)       organisational skills by meeting assessment deadlines 

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