Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Medieval Political Theory
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar Performance  15%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 essay  25%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam  60%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Discuss the historical origins and development of the ideas and institutions studied.
2. Demonstrate knowledge of the contested nature of political theory as an academic subject.
3. Demonstrate, through written work and in seminars, an ability to compare and to contrast the ideas and institutions examined in the module.
4. Critically assess the idea of `divided allegiance? running through medieval political thought.
5. Describe and discuss the distinction between human, natural, divine, and eternal orders of law.
6. Critically evaluate contending theories of obedience to political authority.
7. Describe and discuss the idea of human personality
8. Demonstrate the contemporary relevance of medieval political thought.


This module adds to the Departments provision in the area of Political Philosophy. It complements existing provision in the area of modern and postmodern political theory, although this module enlarges existing provision by introducing new material that to date has not offered in the Department of International Politics. The module will offer students an opportunity to gain specialist knowledge of the main idea and institutions of medieval political life

Brief description

This module aims to provide students with an in depth understanding of the main ideas and institutions of medieval political life, such as church, empire, constitutionalism, law, and property. Particular attention will be paid to way in which these ideas and institutions have shaped modern political ideas, especially the character of the modern states system.


1. The Character of Medieval Political Life
2. Two Cities: God and Man
3. Law
4. Rights
5. Kingship
6. Human Personality
7. Church and Empire
8. International Society
9. Constitutionalism
10. Legacy of Medieval Political Thought

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to assert themselves to advantage. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to the best advantage. They will learn to be clear and direct in their and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and presentations will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convenor and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay and presentation topics. The need to conduct a seminar presentation and to meet an essay deadline will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science and OCLC).
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students' verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one of the central goals of the module; the submission of an essay will require that the student develops independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The need to research and prepare seminar presentations will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student's ability to work alone can be undertaken.
Research skills The submission of an essay will reflect the independent research skills of the student. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills. Research preparation for a seminar presentation will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student's ability to work alone can be undertaken
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: - Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module - Ability to evaluate competing perspectives - Demonstrate subject specific research techniques - Apply a range of methodologies to complex political problems
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module.


This module is at CQFW Level 6