Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL2081: Thinking about Race: Perspectives from the Biological and Social Sciences

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.

Module Aims

Of the many coalitional cleavages that political systems must manage, racial and ethnic divides often demand considerable energy. This course examines the motivations and attitudes that fuel racial and ethnic conflict by drawing from research in psychology, genetics, neuroscience, economics, politics, sociology, and law. By studying a complex phenomenon like racial attitudes from a variety of perspectives, you will learn how to analyze and synthesize divergent approaches while assessing the strengths and limitations of each approach. Furthermore, you will gain a more general understanding than one single methodology can provide.

The course moves from intimate narratives of childhood experience with racial identity to large data sets from survey experiments and evidence taken from studies of genetics and neuroscience. You will learn to evaluate claims that emanate from distinct research traditions and integrate their insights. You will apply legal methods of analysis to psychological theories of motivation. And, you will compare claims from cutting edge research in the biological sciences with arguments founded in psychological, economic, or sociological theories. Working with such range of methods will extend your cognitive dexterity and prepare you for managing the ambiguity inherent in the analysis of complex problems.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. critique and integrate evidence from a variety of methodological approaches;
2. evaluate competing claims and find the common conclusions they support;
Discipline-Specific Skills3. comprehend statistical results from surveys, psychological experiments, and biological studies;
4. identify key assumptions of diverse research paradigms, assessing their appropriateness for particular questions;
Personal and Key Skills5. write efficiently and with reduced bias through a structured inductive process that begins with accumulating evidence and moves through a synthesizing framework;
6. use appropriate strategies for anxiety management when faced with intellectual challenges at the edge of your competence; and
7. demonstrate the ability to work independently, within a limited time frame, and without access to external sources, to complete a specified task.