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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED1601 Freedom, Power and Resistance: An Introduction to Political Ideas

20 creditsClass Size: 420

Module manager: Dr Jonathan Dean

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

PIED1600 Freedom, Power and Democracy

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module provides students with a critical introduction to Western political thought. It aims to establish a grounding in some of the key ideas and theories that have shaped modern politics. In this way, the module seeks both to facilitate critical reflection on public life, and to provide a foundation for the further study of political theory. The module focuses on the work of five influential thinkers, investigating the historical context in which they wrote, the ideas and theories they developed, and the potential application of their thought to pressing political questions in the modern world. In so doing, the module enables students to develop essential study skills in reading and writing political theory.


1. Introduce fundamental ideas and concepts in political theory
2. Introduce the work of key thinkers in the history of Western political thought
3. Develop student skills of reading and analysing primary texts
4. Develop student capacity to identify and make links between political history, thought and practice.

Learning outcomes
1. Knowledge of central ideas and concepts in political theory
2. Familiarity with central works of key thinkers in the history of Western political thought (the precise syllabus will vary from year to year).
3. Knowledge of the relevance of these ideas and theories for the problems of contemporary politics.


[Note that this is a sample syllabus. The precise content of the syllabus and thinkers covered may change from year to year]

Week 1: Introduction
Weeks 2-3: Hobbes and the Social Contract
Weeks 4-5: Locke on government
Weeks 6-7: Wollstonecraft and the rights of woman
Weeks 8-9: Marx and the Communist Manifesto
Weeks 10-11: Douglass on the injustice of slavery

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours167.00
Total Contact hours33.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are required to read the core and additional publications listed in the module bibliography in preparation for seminar discussions and essays. This requires careful and reflective reading, note taking, summarising, and preparation for class discussion. Students will be provided with a list of questions to guide their reading and reflection.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored by means of:

1000 words mid-term formative essay in preperation for final essay

Student contributions to class discussion, which will be monitored throughout the course, though not assessed.

The mid-term essay exercise will provide an opportunity to give detailed formative feedback on student progress.Opportunities for individual discussions outside seminar times.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2000 End of Term Essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 27/09/2023


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