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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL2321 Political Philosophy

20 creditsClass Size: 130

Module manager: Dr Rebecca Simpson

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Pre-requisite qualifications

Either PHIL 1080; or PHIL 1111 and 1222; or PRHS 1000; or 20 credits of Level 1 Politics.

This module is mutually exclusive with

PHIL2300Political Philosophy

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module is only available as an electice module to students studying on Politics Programmes with relevant pre-requisites.Why do we have a government? What's it for? Is it just that, human beings being what they are, they have to have someone to keep them in order? Or is there some other reason, some better reason?People talk a lot about political freedom. But is there really any such thing as a free society? Doesn't the very existence of governments and laws mean it's impossible for us to live together and be free at the same time?Why should we obey the law? Is it just because we'll be punished if we don't, or is there a better reason? Does it make a difference who made the law?This module looks at some classic theories of the state and of political obligation, such as those of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Marx, and asks you to decide whether you accept their answers to questions of this kind, or whether you can find better ones.Pre-requisites: PHIL1200 & 1400, or 20 credits in Politics.


On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. show some understanding of the views and arguments of some of the most important political philosophers from the history of philosophy, and reveal a grasp of how their positions relate to one another;
2. demonstrate a broad understanding of particular schools and issues in political theory, and their historical background;
3. articulate their own responses to the issues raised;
4. manifest skills of philosophical argument and analysis.


This module will provide students with a solid grasp of the central views in political theory, through in depth study of primary texts by at least four major philosophers from the history of political philosophy. Prominent examples of such figures include Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, Marx, Rawls and Nozick. Issues covered will typically include at least some of the following: the relation between a good human life and a just society; positive and negative conceptions of liberty; the grounds of political legitimacy; how conceptions of human nature impact upon political theory; views on the just acquisition and distribution of property; power and realpolitick; ideology and false consciousness; equality; the social contract and consent; alienation; communitarianism and liberalism.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours179.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Seminar preparation: 120 hours;
Revision notes: 9 hours;
Examination preparation: 50 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Online work assessed, and/or mock exam

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 03/04/2019


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