Understanding Corruption (958M9)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

The objective of this module is to help you develop analytical and theoretical tools that will allow for the analysis of corruption across both time and space. We begin by analysing exactly what we understand ‘corrupt’ behaviour to be and how this appears to differ (often quite starkly) across national boundaries and over time.

  • Do humans appear to be naturally corrupt? If so, does this matter?
  • Is corrupt behaviour absolute and universal or does it depend on location and context?
  • Can corruption sometimes even be a good thing?

The module will have contributions from the political science, legal, anthropological, business and management and development studies disciplines.

Armed with the analytical tools aimed at unpacking the complex phenomenon of corruption, we will examine specific examples of corruption across the developed and developing world, ranging from systematic abuses of power by parties and politicians to small-scale, almost trivial, petty misdemeanours. This analysis then provides a foundation for examining what reforms might contribute to lessening instances of political corruption in the western world and beyond.


100%: Seminar


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 20 hours of contact time and about 280 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.