Postgraduate Module Descriptor

POLM021: Power and Society

This module descriptor refers to the 2017/8 academic year.


NQF Level7
Credits30 ECTS Value15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Simon Townsend (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


This module explores some of the most influential theories of power and their implications for studying politics. We will read and critically examine the core texts of a number of thinkers who place power at the centre of their work, including Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault. We will also trace the influence of their ideas in contemporary debates. In particular, we will focus on the idea, common to these thinkers, that power is not just coercive or repressive, exercised by the powerful over the powerless, but permeates all social and political relations, often through hidden mechanisms. We will assess their accounts of how power functions in modern Western states, and their various criticisms of Western civilization.


The sizeable influence of Michel Foucault’s work across academic disciplines means that this module is relevant for students across the field of politics. No prior knowledge of the thinkers or debates is required.

Module created


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