Your feedback is important to us
Please take two minutes at the end of your visit to help us improve our information and services.
Skip to content The Open University

Living political ideas

On this page

Should religious beliefs shape how politics are conducted in the contemporary world? Does violence have a role in politics? Should animals as well as humans be represented in politics? What do bodies and sexuality have to do with politics? Living political ideas is an exciting Level 3 politics and international studies course that debates these and similar questions. It demonstrates the relevance of political ideas for understanding contemporary issues in national and world politics. The award winning study materials include software, video and audio on the website (British Universities Film & Video Council, Learning on Screen Awards 2009).

Modules at Level 3 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1625.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1465.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2017.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

The course is organised around an introduction and five parts. In each part, you’ll be thinking about the different ways that political ideas ‘live’.

The first part is called Representing the People and investigates the idea of political representation. It traces some of the history and development of the idea in Europe and beyond, and considers whether there is now a crisis of representation.

The second part, Political Animals, looks at how distinctions between humans and animals constitute and challenge modern notions of politics. Do we have good reasons for excluding animals from the political domain? Should nature be given a strong political voice in our era of global environmental degradation?

The third part, Politics and Religion, explores the contentious area of the relationship between religion and politics. Should religious beliefs play an explicit part in politics? Or is it important that church and state be kept separate? Should politics be a secular matter with room for a plurality of religious convictions expressed by citizens in their private lives? How do religious ideas impact on riots in France, the abortion debate in the US and state formation in Iran?

The fourth part is called The Body in Politics. It discusses how explanations of the body are both incorporated into politics and challenge them. Politics is often thought of as being the concern of the mind – making rational policies. How do the treatment of disabled people, the question of care for the elderly, matters of sexuality, and developments in genetic screening and modification challenge this notion?

The final part, Violence and Politics, examines how the problem of violence underpins modern understandings of politics. Is politics always, at root, about violence? And what are we to make of the notion of state violence? How did various ideas about the relationship between violence and politics play out in the civil war in Sierra Leone, the struggle for national independence in Algeria, and the break-up of Yugoslavia?

You’ll be attracted to this course if you’ve an interest in the importance of political ideas in politics and international relations or want to make sense of current events. The course is delivered primarily online, however, print versions of political texts are provided, so you won’t always be studying at your computer. We also want you to learn to become independent learners through this course, and plenty of help is given for you to build these skills.

You will learn

You will learn how to interpret contemporary political events by using political theory texts. This will help you bring out the underlying ‘living’ ideas at stake, as well as the historical resonances often to be found in the political debates of the present. You’ll also build on your ability to reflect on the meaning of a piece of text and analyse it, whether it is a political theory extract, a newspaper article, or a work memo.

Vocational relevance

Courses in government and politics are relevant to a wide range of employment. Politics graduates can be found in financial and commercial occupations – such as business management, banking and insurance – and in a variety of other professions, including the law and accountancy. They are particularly attractive to the public sector: the civil service, local government and health administration.

Entry

This is a Level 3 course. Level 3 courses build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at Levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU.

Our Level 1 course Introducing the social sciences (DD101) and Level 2 course Power, dissent, equality: understanding contemporary politics (DD203) provide an excellent grounding for this course. A world of whose making? (DU301)  also provides some relevant politics and international relations background.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

No specific preparatory work is required. 

If you have studied DD203, you might like to revisit Part 4 of the course, called Living Political Ideas (including its book and the three audiovisual components), to gain an initial sense of what is meant by ‘living political ideas’ in DD306. 

If you’ve not studied DD203, you might like to consider getting hold of Living Political Ideas, Andrews, G. and Saward, M. (eds) (2005) Edinburgh University Press.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

You will need to be able to work with multimedia audiovisual materials. You will acquire a broad range of skills in the use of these materials as part of the learning experience that the course provides.

The main components of the course are on the website. You will need to spend significant amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. If you use special hardware or software you must, well before the course begins, find out whether it will work with the study materials.

One of the course learning outcomes is to access, manage and analyse information in a software-driven multimedia environment. Blind and severely partially sighted students may experience difficulty in achieving this learning outcome.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Other alternative formats of the course materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Course website and print versions of the political texts studied online.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, for use with a web browser. There is also software to download and install on your computer.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device you may have difficulties with some software, check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Hannah Arendt On Violence, Harcourt Brace International £6.99 - ISBN 9780156695008

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day-schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the course. You will also be able to take part in online discussion forums with other students to support your studies.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) is a project that takes the place of an examination. 

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in October 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“This is a brilliant, complex and highly engaging course. A great many ideas are introduced and debated. The course materials ...”
Read more
“A really interesting and thought provoking course. It deals with very up to date ideas, allowing you to apply them ...”
Read more

Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code DD306
Credits 60
OU Level 3
SCQF level 10
FHEQ level 6
Course work includes:
6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Your questions

Try our frequently asked questions.

Come and meet us at an event near you.

Or contact an adviser by Email or call +44(0) 845 300 60 90 +44(0) 845 366 60 35

Employers' questions

Contact Corporate Enquiries
Visit our website for employers or Email us

Get a prospectus

Download or
order