module specification

GI6009 - The Politics of Modern States (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title The Politics of Modern States
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay (3000 words)
Coursework 50%   Report (3000 words)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Morning

Module summary

This module aims to:

• Examine competing theories of the modern state
• Evaluate the historical evolution of modern states
• Compare and contrast the range of different types of state across the globe, from democracies to authoritarian states
• Analyse the state in relation to contemporary 21st century issues, such as globalization, social welfare provision, and protest movements
• Encourage confidence in the use of appropriate analytical, written and oral skills, to enhance students’ transferable skills and employability


• Theories of the modern state, inc. pluralist/elitist/Marxist models LO1
• Typologies of modern states, inc. democracies, authoritarian states and failed states LO2
• Contemporary issues, inc. constitutional arrangements, globalization, social welfare provision, relations with civil society and protest movements LO3
• Case studies, inc. liberal democracies (UK), façade democracies (Russia), theocracies (Iran), welfare states (Denmark) and state corruption (South Africa) LO2, LO3
• Employability enhancement – online research skills; writing a comparative report LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

There is a one-hour weekly lecture and a one-hour weekly seminar.
• Lectures incorporate a mixture of speaking, video presentations and use of IT.
• Seminars are centred on pre-prepared questions, student presentations, group activities and multimedia resources.
• Blended learning is encouraged in the classroom through the use of multimedia and internet resources. This is complemented outside the classroom by the use of a module website containing a range of materials designed to enhance students’ learning, including lecture notes, guides to improving essay writing and seminar skills, and resources such as links to relevant websites, online articles, videos and podcasts.
• Reflective learning is encouraged through the use of self-reflection tasks accompanying seminar presentations and the written assignment.
• Employability enhancement – developing transferable skills through a focus on online research skills, and writing and presenting a policy report, based on the topics of the module

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will have gained:

1. An understanding of competing theoretical and historical accounts of the modern state
2. An appreciation of the different types of state that exist in the modern world – including liberal democracies, ‘façade’ democracies, absolute monarchies, military dictatorships and theocracies
3. A critical awareness of the factors affecting the nature and authority of the state in the 21st century, including constitutional arrangements, globalization, social welfare provision, relations with civil society and protest movements
4. A range of transferable employability skills, in oral, writing and research competencies


Assessment strategy

Assessment is based on the following elements:
1. A classroom debate based on the topic of the lecture, with feedback given to students at the end of the class. This will take place in week 4.
2. An essay, worth 50% of the final grade. It will be 3000 words in length. This must be submitted by week 12.
3. A report, worth 50% of the final grade. It will be 3000 words in length. This must be submitted by week 27.



Caramani, D. (ed.) (2017) Comparative Politics, 4th edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Gill, G. (2003) The Nature and Development of the Modern State (London: Palgrave Macmillan)
Hague, R. and Harrop, M. (2016) Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction, 10th edn. (London: Palgrave Macmillan)
O’Neil, P. H. (2007) Essentials of Comparative Politics, 2nd edn. (New York: W. W. Norton)
Pierson, C. (2011) The Modern State, 3rd edn. (London: Routledge)


Barber, N. W. (2010) The Constitutional State (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Creveld van, M. (1999) The Rise and Decline of the State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
Dunleavy, P. and O’Leary, B. (1987) Theories of the State: The Politics of Liberal Democracy (Basingstoke: Macmillan Education)
Hall, J. A. and Ikenberry, G. (1989) The State (Milton Keynes: Open University Press)
Hay, C., Lister, M. and Marsh, D. (eds) (2005) The State: Theories and Issues (London: Palgrave Macmillan)
Held, D. (1989) Political Theory and the Modern State: Essays on State, Power and Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
Held, D. (2006) Models of Democracy, 3rd edn. (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press)
Knuttila, M. and Kubik, W. (eds) (2001) State Theories: Classical, Global and Feminist Perspectives (London: Zed Books)
O’Neil, P. H. and Rogowski, R. (eds) (2010) Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, 3rd edn. (New York: W. W. Norton)
Plant, R. (2010) The Neo-liberal State (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Powell, Jr., G. B. J., Dalton, R. J. and Strom, K. (2011) Comparative Politics Today: A World View, 10th edn. (London: Longman)
Sodaro, M. J. (2004) Comparative Politics: A Global Introduction, 2nd edn. (London: McGraw-Hill Education)
Vincent, A. (1987) Theories of the State (Oxford: Basil Blackwell)