Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Political Theory
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 16 Hours (16 x 1 hour)
Seminars / Tutorials 8 Hours (8 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar Performance  10%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam  50%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay in lieu of exam, if exam element failed  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay, if essay element failed  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,000 word assignment, in lieu of seminar performance  10%

Learning Outcomes

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

- have a grasp of the main themes of the history of political thought
- understand the key concepts in political theory
- be acquainted with at least eight texts in the history of political thought
- be able to closely read, analyse and evaluate an original text in political theory
- be able to understand political arguments across centuries
- be capable of putting forward and appraising a political argument.

Brief description

This module provides an introduction to the history of political theory and a close analysis of specific ideas, including good government, state of nature and rule of law, and thinkers, such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Kant. It combines lecture tuition with seminars, giving students the wider context as well as an opportunity to get first-hand access to some of the key texts in political theory. By learning about and analysing ideas from temporally and/or spatially distant contexts, students develop crucial analytical skills that will allow them to better understand, analyse and judge the political issues of our day.


Lecture topics:
1. Political theory and its history: an introduction
2. Ancient political thought: Plato
3. Ancient political thought: Aristotle
4. From medieval political theory to renaissance
5. The art of government: Machiavelli
6. Modern political theory: Hobbes
7. Social contract liberalism: Locke
8. Contextualism and constitutionalism: Montesquieu
9. Society and morality: Rousseau
10. General will and democracy: Rousseau
11. Universal moral law: Kant
12. Systematic political philosophy: Kant and Hegel
13. Alienation and emancipation: Marx
14. Individuality and liberty: JS Mill
15. Political theory: methods and approaches
16. Political theory today and its relevance for the study of international politics


The aims of this course are to introduce students to the use and critical appraisal of some of the principal texts in political thought. This will be done through the study of the writings of key classical writers and the investigation of a number of concepts, such as government, ruler, social contract, moral law, separation of powers, equality and freedom.

Transferable skills

This module will provide the opportunity for students to develop their oral, intellectual and communication skills. In the lectures emphasis will be placed on understanding, following the argument and summarizing it concisely. In the seminars emphasis will be placed on developing clear, cogent and persuasive arguments. The seminars offer the opportunity for students to show independent reasoning and judgment. Essay writing will encourage students to carry out research on their own initiative and to develop their written presentation skills. The examination will test knowledge retention, comprehension and skills of analysis under conditions of time constraint.

Reading List

Goodwin, Barbara. (c2007.) Using political ideas /Barbara Goodwin. 5th ed. Wiley Primo search Hoffman, John (2006.) Introduction to political theory /John Hoffman, Paul Graham. Pearson Longman Primo search Williams, Howard (1992.) International relations in political theory /Howard Williams. Open University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6