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Politics, International Relations and Modern Languages (Spanish)

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Politics, International Relations and Modern Languages (Spanish)

BA
  • UCAS code LR24
  • Option 4 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

Politics, International Relations and Modern Languages explores the key areas of contemporary European politics and international relations and combines these with the in-depth study of Spanish language, society and culture. Taught in partnership between the Department of Politics and International Relations and the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, this course is informed by the outstanding research and international outlook of both departments.

The politics element of the course provides an introduction to the working of international relations and the growth of Europe as a political entity. This includes research into areas such as Brexit, the European Union’s Budget, the European Parliament, security, international diplomacy, and the use of military force, as well as European languages and cultures. Your second and final year courses in European politics and international relations will be taught by Giacomo Benedetto, who holds a Jean Monnet professorship in European integration awarded by the European Union.

Spanish is a major world language and Spain itself is a key player in Europe, while Latin America is expected to see significant expansion over the coming decades as globalisation continues to gather pace. Choosing to study Spanish at Royal Holloway means joining our friendly, supportive and culturally diverse community where you will be inspired by leading specialists from one of the UK’s most interdisciplinary Hispanic Studies teams.

As a modern linguist, you will not only learn to speak and write fluently, you will also develop excellent communication and research skills and combine language proficiency with cross-cultural perspectives.

You will be taught by dedicated language specialists, who will ensure that you gain valuable exposure to different varieties of Spanish. You will have the opportunity to spend a year working, teaching or studying, in a Spanish-speaking city, such as Havana, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Mexico City, Seville or Salamanca, where you will immerse yourself in the language and culture, truly broadening your horizons in the process.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, we will commit to providing 2019 and 2020 entry students with a subsidy equivalent to current Erasmus+ funding (where this would have previously been funded by the Erasmus+ scheme). To find out more visit the Erasmus+ page.

  • Study with leading experts on Brexit and EU Budgets.
  • Taught in partnership with the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
  • Spend a year of study and/or work in a Spanish-speaking country.
  • Gain written and verbal fluency in Spanish.
  • Other language options in German (R200), Italian (R300) and French (R100).

Core Modules

Year 1
  • This module offers a broad introduction to theory and history in international relations since 1870. You will look at a variety of different theoretical lenses, ranging from orthodox to critical perspectives, in order to understand events from the collapse of the Bismarckian European order and the origins of World War 1 to the contemporary War on Terror. Along the way you will also explore the origins and the end of the Cold War, decolonisation and the End of Empire, the rise of international institutions, humanitarian intervention and new security issues.

  • This module will introduce you to the academic study of politics and to the ‘real world’ of contemporary politics. As a foundational course, it will give you all the essential tools to understand the nature of politics and analyse the way different political systems work. You will be introduced to key concepts such as politics, power, rights, ideologies, democracy and representation, and will learn about the different actors, institutions and processes that make up politics today.

You will take one of the following modules in Spanish depending on your language proficiency:

  • The module develops students' command of both Spanish-English translation and critical analysis of Spanish-language material by exposing them to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles.

  • The module aims to develop reading and writing skills in Spanish. Classes use Spanish as much as possible and the module is assessed in Spanish. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material. Themes studied vary from year to year but are likely to include every-day life in France, an introduction to Spanish-speaking society and culture, regions and traditions.

  • The module aims to develop speaking and listening skills in Spanish. Classes use Spanish as much as possible and the module is assessed in Spanish. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material. Themes studied vary from year to year but are likely to include every-day life in Spanish-speaking countries, an introduction to Spanish-speaking society and culture, regions and traditions.

  • The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate written Spanish. Major grammatical issues will be taught and/or revised, and students will work on a wide range of authentic material in Spanish to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions. Key linguistic features of the texts will be identified and discussed to improve the student’s language acquisition and analysis skills.  The module will be taught and assessed in Spanish.

     

  • The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate spoken Spanish. Students will work on a wide range of authentic material in Spanish to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions and to introduce them to contemporary issues and culture. The module will be taught and assessed in Spanish.

Year 2
  • In this module you will analyse the contemporary politics of the European Union and its institutions, amid the challenges of the triple crisis of economics, migration and Brexit. You will learn about the political history of European integration after 1949 and the contemporary theory of European integration. The first term will begin with an introduction to the European Union as a political system followed by an overview of the European Union's historical development. The second term will focus on contestation of the European Union and the theories that underpin this, in order to explain how the EU developed and the challenges that it faces. Topics will include Euroscepticism, party politics, public opinion, Brexit and EU-UK relations, and European Parliament elections. The theory sessions comprise of federalism, neo-functionalism, liberal intergovernmentalism and the new institutionalisms.

You will take one of the following modules in Spanish depending on your language proficiency:

  • Intensive Spanish II
  • Spanish II
  • Advanced Spanish Translation: Skills and Practice
Year 3
  • You will spend the third year of this degree programme abroad, either studying, working, or both. It is usually expected that you will spend at least 9 months in a country where the native language is the same as the language you are studying. The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures will support you in finding a suitable study or work placement, or you may explore opportunities independently. This year forms an integral part of your degree programme and will be formally assessed.

    In the event of a no-deal Brexit, we will commit to providing 2020 entry students with a subsidy equivalent to current Erasmus+ funding (where this would have previously been funded by the Erasmus+ scheme). To find out more visit the Erasmus+ page.

Year 4
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of regulation in the European Union, including delivery of policy and administration. You will look at how the world's largest market operates, with a focus on EU public policy, including de-regulation, re-regulation, budgets and spending. You will examine the concept of the single market, the Euro and its crisis, justice, home affairs and counter-terrorism, the EU budget, agriculture, regional development, and social and environmental policies.

You will take the following module in Spanish:

  • Spanish III

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1

Optional modules in Spanish may include:

  • Passion and Betrayal on the Spanish Stage
  • Re-Mapping the Amexicano Border in Visual Culture
  • Authors and Readers in 20th-Century Spanish American Fiction
  • The module provides a selective but wide-ranging introduction to culture in the Hispanic world from the 15th to the 21st century. It explores a broad range of cultural manifestations from different socio-historical contexts both independently and comparatively from a topic-based perspective. Materials may include plays, narratives, poems, paintings, sculptures, musical compositions and architectural works, while topics may be drawn from (but not be limited to) the following: ‘Discovery’, ‘Destruction’, ‘Subversion’, ‘Self-fashioning’, ‘Power’ and ‘the Body’.

  • The module develops students' command of both Spanish-English translation and critical analysis of Spanish-language material by exposing them to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles.

  • Students on this module will be introduced to some of the most important literary, visual and cinematic works from twentieth century Latin America. The works from selected writers pertaining to the Latin American Literary Boom will feature on this module, as well as some of the Nobel Prize winning poets from Latin America. Students on this module will be provided with samples of the artistic wealth (both in styles and techniques) from artists across the Latin American continent. Attention will be paid to the question of identity as reflected in the cinemas of Cuba and Mexico; two of the most important film industries from Spanish speaking America.

  • Text and Image In The Hispanic World
  • Visualising Cuba
Year 2
  • Building on Introduction to International Relations, this module explores the key thinkers and debates in International Relations Theory. You will become familiar with a variety of ways of thinking about International Relations, engaging with questions about the nature of power, identity, and ethics in politics and how these interact in the international realm. The module is divided into two parts. In the first, you will examine the three foundational theoretical paradigms within International Relations – realism, liberalism, and Marxism. The second part explores newer critical approaches to International Relations theory, including constructivism, post-structuralism, feminism, and uneven ecological exchange.

  • I in this module you will develop an understanding of contemporary British politics. You will look at the ways in which British government has evolved, how it continues to operate, and why it operates in the way it does. You will consider the causes and consequences of major political change in Britain and examine the underlying assumptions upon which theoretical disputes in political science are based.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of some of the key concepts in political theory today. You will look at political obligation, civil disobedience, democracy, citizenship, equality, global justice, human rights, and freedom and toleration. You will consider important theorists including Berlin Rawls, Nozick, Sandel, Okin and Pettit, examining the recent major theoretical perspectives in the context of contemporary politics.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the relationship between states and markets, power and wealth. You will look at the key concepts and theoretical debates in International Political Economy, such as the globalisation of trade, finance, and production, the continued problems of development and democratic governance in the world economy, and emerging questions surrounding global flows, networks and spaces. You will consider the history of regimes, crises, and competing theories of political economy from the nineteenth century to the present day and examine how political institutions operate in international politics to regulate the creation of wealth, and who benefits from these arrangements.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the main theoretical approaches of the study of political behaviour. You will look at major current controversies in the field of political behaviour and critically analyse and evaluate theoretical and empirical arguments through the interpretation of bivariate and multivariate analysis of data. You will consider the ways in which individuals directly or indirectly influence political choices at various levels of the political system, and the relationship between voters and political parties. You will also examine the theory and practice of how electors decide whether (or not) to vote and whom to vote for.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of security studies as a subfield of International Relations. You will look at the issue of war and it is/should be fought. You will consider the theories of security and how these have changed, especially in an age of terrorism, and examine a wide variety of security including nuclear weapons, drone warfare, genocide, and gun control.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the themes, arguments, and interpretations of major political thinkers from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. You will look at the works of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Marx and Nietzsche and consider how the ideas articulated by these thinkers continue to underpin contemporary debates about the nature of freedom, human rights, value pluralism, popular sovereignty, state legitimacy, and the modern condition. You will also examine how study of these thinkers illuminates contemporary debates even where these debates no longer make reference to them.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the scope and limitations of global governance. You will look at the creation of international organisations and the role of states in this process, how different organisations are designed, and the effectiveness and functioning of different types of organisation. You will consider the role of international organisations in creating policy, pursuing organisational objectives, and altering the relations between actors at various levels. You will also examine the significance of major challenges for global governance, such as countering international terrorism, policing organised crime, and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the modern human rights regime. You will look at what human rights are and their historical origins, including governance and the international legal regime. You will consider genocide and debates about intervention, examining the war in the former Yugoslavia, genocide in Darfur, and current issues in Syria. You will explore transitional justice, the laws of war and international criminal tribunals, and assess the remedies available to victims of human rights abuses.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how citizens, politicians and the media interact across Western democracies during both electoral and governing periods. You will look at the production and consumption of political news, consider election campaigns and their effects, and examine contemporary debates in political communication, including ethical issues.

Optional modules in Spanish may include:

  • Myths of the Feminine in the Spanish Novel
  • During the module attention will be devoted to analysing samples from early Twentieth century Mexican visual arts. Students will study the Mexican Mural Movement and will analyse the work of its most prominent members. Attention will be paid to the works of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco. The first part of this module will also cover the photographic works of Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Tina Modotti, Mariana Yampolski, Araceli Herrera and Graciela Iturbide. During the second part of this module students will be introduced to some of the most significant cinematic works from Mexico’s century of filmmaking. Students will analyse some of the most important filmic genres from a wide range of directors and periods in Mexican cinematic history. On this module students will be introduced to some areas of film theory and will learn how to apply theoretical concepts to a reading of Mexican visual arts and films.

  • Religion and Society in the 16th- and 17th-Century Hispanic World
  • Love in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel
  • On this module students will examine the ways in which critical historical moments in Latin America have been represented visually in a global context. We will explore how political unrest in Latin America has been memorialised by both filmmakers and photographers, with the aim of re-thinking how global imaginaries concerning the rebel and revolution have been constructed in film and photography.

  • In this module students will study films from the last twenty years in Spain. The films selected will in different ways express representations of identity in Spain. We will explore issues such as national and regional identities, linguistic diversity and national identity, Spanishness, cultural memory, history on screen, urban versus rural experience, cultural diversity, immigration and the portrayal of gender within new family paradigms.

Year 4
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the European Union's foreign relations, focussing on political, security and economic impacts. You will examine its international role, looking at the Common Foreign and Security Policy, its relationship with NATO, the USA and Russia, its connection to immediate neighbours in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, and its role in global trade negotiations.

  • Power and Money in the European Union
  • The dissertation offers you the opportunity to pursue independent research in a topic of your own choosing with the support of an academic supervisor working one-to-one with you. You will develop your own research question and research strategy, explore the scholarly debates surrounding your topic, and advance your own thesis that interprets or challenges the way your topic has been understood. You are encouraged to use a variety of quantitative or qualitative methods and theoretical approaches as appropriate to the field you are exploring.

  • The British in India: a Social and Political History
  • Contemporary Middle East Politics
  • US Foreign Policy
  • Comparative Foreign Policy
  • Young People's Politics
  • Leadership, Power and the British Prime Minister
  • Visual Politics
  • Understanding China's Rise: Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy
  • Global Energy Policy
  • Refugees and Migration in World Politics
  • American Political Development
  • The Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
  • The Politics of International Development
  • Issues in Democratic Theory
  • Political Theories of Freedom
  • Defence and Security Governance
  • Military Change in the 21st Century
  • Leaders and Political Communication
  • Global Healthy Policy
  • Political Protest

Optional modules in Spanish may include:

  • Short Fiction by Spanish Women Writers
  • Spanish American Literature: An Overview
  • Don Quijote: The Text and Its Contexts
  • Seducing the Nation: Spanish Film 1940s to 1980s
  • This module explores, compares and contrasts representations of social and political conflict in a range of 20th-century Latin American literary texts. It considers conflict in literature critically with regards to and in the context of some of the following: revolution, racial difference, social inequality, economic exploitation, exile, urban violence and historical memory. It provides students with a basic understanding of the historical background and trajectory of some of the most relevant socio-political movements and events in the continent in the module of the century.

  • Journeys of Discovery in 20th- Century Spanish American Literature
  • This module introduces students to a range of important texts and authors, both canonical and non-canonical, from early modern Spain and France. Yet it does so through a selection of outsider figures – characters whose aberrant or idiosyncratic identity, outlook, or behaviour sets them at odds with their society. The characters on this module thus challenge some of society’s most deeply entrenched but often unwritten codes – of reason, gender, decorum, sexuality, class, and religion – and can thus offer important insights into the workings and values of the society whose norms they transgress. As we shall see, though, the treatment of such figures can vary widely. Whereas the outsider’s departure from the norm is often apparently ridiculed or censured, it can sometimes be celebrated or rehabilitated – whether by other characters within the fiction or by the literary work itself. Indeed, the period’s fascination with marginal or transgressive characters and behaviour betrays throughout a deep unease about the validity of its own norms and standards.

  • On this module students will explore the horror genre by exploring a broad range of films made in Spain and Latin America. Following an introduction to horror filmmaking, we will analyse texts in relation to horror’s numerous subgenres (gothic, physiological, psychological, science fiction, zombie etc.) and will learn both how to identify different types of horror film as well as to situate them in the history of horror filmmaking.

  • On this module students will learn how to identify some of the traits of contemporary Mexican cinema, a period of filmmaking which has been recognised as one of the most fruitful in cinematic history. The films selected for analysis on this module will be examined within the context of contemporary Mexico: an era rife with socio-political unrest. We will learn how political corruption, social violence and the recent Drug Wars have shaped the narratives of the films we will explore, and how these issues have dictated the emergence of new filmic genres. Students will learn about how youth culture and its manifestations are explored in film and will be able to place the films studied in their socio-historic contexts.

The course has a modular structure, whereby you will take 14 units at the rate of four per year in the first, second and fourth years, plus two in the third year, which is spent working or studying abroad. Most modules contain an element of assessed coursework, which contributes to the final mark awarded.

Your first year is formative, though your results will determine whether you can progress to the second year. Your second and fourth year results, alongside those of the third year spent abroad, will contribute to your final degree classifcation. Work completed in your fourth year will count for a larger proportion of the result.

You will be assigned a personal tutor who will provide you with support, guidance and advice throughout your studies.

You will also have access to the comprehensive e-learning facility Moodle, which features lecture handouts and other supporting materials, such as lecture slides, quizzes, video clips, and links to relevant academic journal articles.

Top 10 UK Politics department for research intensity

Source: THE REF 2014: Subject ranking on intensity

93% of students agreed staff are good at explaining things

Source: NSS, 2019

92% of our Politics and International Relations graduates are employed or go on to further study within six months of graduating

Source: DLHE, 2018

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