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London Seminars

Law and Society

This course provides a general introduction to the sources of law of the English and Welsh legal system and how that law is implemented and enforced. It starts with a general outline of the various sources that the United Kingdom draws upon for its law, which will be discussed in more detail throughout the course. It then explains the relationship that exists between the three institutions that make up the constitution of the United Kingdom, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, and their respective parts in the law-making process. The course then covers how legislation is created through Parliament and the political process which led to the enactment of the Human Rights Act, and the effect the Act has had on the traditional relationship between Parliament and the Courts. The course then outlines the role of the courts and the court structure and the methods the judiciary use to interpret legislation through the courts. Judicial law-making is then discussed through the development of the common law and how judges create law through case law and the system of precedent. The course then focuses on the area of judicial review, which is the means by which the courts control the exercise of governmental power and the conflict this creates between the executive and the judiciary. Finally, the course focuses on the European Community and Union and how community law is incorporated into United Kingdom law.

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The Middle East and Political Islam

The course covers the basic elements of Middle East history and politics with special emphasis on political Islam. It begins with a broad introduction to the main features of the region and the historical background to the twentieth century. The contemporary period is then analyzed in greater detail by focusing on the rise of the state system, the establishment of Israel, the impact of the Cold War (and its end) on the Middle East and the emergence and discrediting of Arab nationalism. All these twentieth century developments explain the rise of political Islam, studied in the second part of the course. It will highlight its ambiguous relation to Islamic dogma and democracy, its relative strengths and weaknesses as a transnational movement and its impact on the future of the nation-state.

For a printable version of the full seminar description, syllabus, and reading list, click here
To see the resumes of the faculty members teaching this seminar, click here

Contemporary Britain

British society is undergoing a major transition. The victory of the Labour Party in the General Election of May 1997 ended an eighteen year period of Conservative rule which had dramatically changed the political landscape. In the final Conservative parliament (1992-97) a long series of economic and political crises eroded the government’s popularity, leading eventually to the party being buried under Labour’s landslide victory. Four years later Labour won an unprecedented second term, with only a slightly reduced majority. The turnout, however, was very low and there has been much debate since the election about the health of British democracy and the possibility that it is being undermined by mass apathy. During its first term, the Blair government embarked on a major programme of constitutional reform, including devolution in Scotland and Wales and the abolition of hereditary rights in the House of Lords.

The main focus of attention during the government's second term was intended to be the provision of public services, particularly transport, education and health. The government continues to be vulnerable on these issues and the opposition will try to exploit them in the run up to the next general election, probably sometime next year. Since the last election, however, much of the government’s energy has been devoted to foreign policy, in particular relations with the United States following the events of September 11 2001 and with the rest of the European Union in the wake of the introduction of a common currency, the Euro and the debate over a European constitution. Prime Minister Blair’s decision to join the US in the invasion of Iraq proved hugely controversial in his own party as well as with the general public. It remains to be seen what the final political price will be.

This course will start by examining how Britain is governed, both formally and informally, and then go on to discuss the key relationships: Britain and its constituent parts (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland); Britain and Europe; Britain and the United States; Britain and the wider world. So far as possible, in order to encourage participation, class discussions will be organised in a way which will compare government and society in Britain and the United States.

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The New Security Agenda

The New Security Agenda examines the various theories and concepts designed to explain the nature of contemporary conflict. Beginning with an overview of the West's attempts to ‘humanise’ war, including the rise of humanitarian intervention, the course goes on to study ‘post-modern’ (mostly but not entirely Western) societies and some of the sociological explanations for why they fight wars in the ways they do. There is also a wide-ranging discussion of other ‘ways of warfare’ (Chinese, Japanese, Islamic, etc.), the rise of asymmetrical warfare (i.e. the exploitation of perceived weaknesses in how Western societies fight wars), and issues in the developing world such as genocide and how to interpret ‘new wars’. Due attention is also given to such elements of the new landscape of international conflict as criminal cartels and terrorist movements.

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The New Europe

This course traces the evolution of the politics and international relations of Europe in the post-Cold War world. It seeks to address the question of whether there is one Europe or many by focusing on the issues of European politics and identity and Europe’s role internationally. It evaluates the causes and effects of the collapse of communism and the process of political and economic transition in Eastern Europe. Europe’s post-1989 wars in the former Yugoslavia are examined in the context of Europe’s institutional order as are the emergence of a series of sub-regional groupings within the European political system. The course then focuses on threats to pan-European security and the institutions and state alignments with which these threat can be met. The role of the European Union is a vital one and the course highlights the particular nature of the role the European Union plays in the evolution of contemporary Europe. Lastly, the course assesses the impact of Europe’s external relations on its international standing and the possibility of t he creation of a single ‘European voice’.

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Media, Society and Contemporary Culture

Much hype surrounds the media: the challenges and promises of Public Service Broadcasting in a multi-channel era, their liberating and empowering potential, their educational role and their responsibility for true public deliberation, their overwhelming presence in our lives and their irresistible seductiveness. Yet, at the same time, suspicion and criticism of the media are growing. Television is often accused of “dumbing down” culture, of offering nothing but poor entertainment, escapism and diversion, rather than creating a meaningful, critical public debate. Corporate media giants are depicted as the new missionaries of capitalism and cultural imperialism, promoting commercial values while denigrating journalism and culture. The Internet is said to increase levels of loneliness and erode any sense of community. The global coverage of suffering is seen to create “compassion fatigue” and alienation. The media are sexist, we are told. And so on and so forth. In short, the media have a pervasive social presence that deserves close scrutiny, and media literacy is now as significant as traditional literacy.

The goal of the proposed course is to offer theoretical tools for thinking critically about the media, by analysing its relationship with social, cultural, historical, political and economic processes and structures. It will examine the centrality, power and influence of media as institutions, industries, texts and technologies.

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Ethics in Action

The purpose of this seminar is to illustrate how history, philosophy, business, politics and culture interact in contemporary ethical debates on a range of public policy issues. Though this is not a course on current affairs, the seminar will necessarily include discussion of international, American and British affairs in order to analyse their broader ethical significance. Students will thus be expected to keep up with recent developments in Britain and around the world by regularly consulting newspapers and other media reporting. Discussion topics range from fundamental issues such as human rights, religious freedom and national security through to some of the ethical problems that have developed more recently, including genetic and medical research, globalisation and corporate power, and environmental crisis.

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Applied International Business

Prerequisites: Introductory Micro and Macro economics

The syllabus and content of Applied International Business reflects its emphasis on the analysis of the modes of international business as strategic means to attain the business objectives of the firm: merchandise trade, services trade, international production and various forms of collaborative arrangements. The course explores theoretical and empirical determinants of each of the various modes of international business, along with the role of government policies affecting trade and international production.

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Directed Research and Methodology

This course investigates the methodology required for researching and writing an academic research project and will seek to explore, define and apply a wide range of research methods and techniques including the hypothesis, the research questions, a review of the relevant literature and the research methodology.
Guidance will also be given to each student by the INSTEP faculty member on producing an abstract for the proposed research project and then with the focus and progress of the required research.

Students should propose a topic for their research project from the following areas and must also take the relevant course from the list below:

Core courses:
           
1.  Directed Research and Methodology
                        and
2. One of the following courses:        Contemporary Britain
                                                            Law and Society
                                                            Applied International Business
                                                            Media, Society and Contemporary Culture

For a printable version of the full seminar description, syllabus, and reading list, click here
To see the resume of the faculty member teaching this seminar, click here

 


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