Module Identifier IP12220  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Professor Howard L Williams  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Mr Ludwig Gelot, Professor Michael Foley, Mr Daniel Mccarthy, Ms Susanna Birgitta Karlsson  
Course delivery Lecture   18 x 1 hour  
  Seminars / Tutorials   8 x 1 hour  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours Examination  70%
Semester Assessment One 2,000 word essay  30%
Supplementary Assessment Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module. For further clarification please contact the Academic Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
Outline some of the classical approaches to political philosophy.
2. Discuss the basic assumptions of liberal political thought such as the public/private distinction, the rational individual and the qualifications for citizenship
3. Assess and evaluate revolutionary changes in political thought
4. Demonstrate knowledge of a range key political thinkers at an introductory level
5. Relate changing political thought to its social and historical context
6. Demonstrate an awareness of how questions such as colonialism, ethnicity, anti-captialist movements, gender, and ecology reflect and produce changes in political thought
7. Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module
8. Evaluate competing perspectives in political thought


The module provides an introduction to political philosophy at Part One that will give students a foundation for their further studies in politics/international politics

Brief description

The module begins with an introduction to classical political philosophies. It then examines the basic assumptions on which liberal political thinking is based, such as the public/private distinction, the notion of the rational individual and who qualifies as a citizen, and then proceeds to consider the challenges to this thought that have arisen and are still arising in the course of various revolutionary moves in political thought. It focuses on a number of key political thinkers, considering their writings in the social and historical context in which they worked. As well as looking at the Western political theory canon, other issues, such as colonialism, ethnicity, anti-capitalism, gender, ecology and Islamist political theory are covered.



1. Introduction: the challenge of political philosophy

Classical Political Philosophy
2. Plato and Aristotle and the good life in the city state
3. The Christian vision and the rise of western modernity: Augustine to Machiavelli
4. Islamist political philosophy

Liberal political philosophy
5. Liberal political philosophy: The basic assumptions
6. Is liberal thought white, western and male-centric?

Revolutions in Political Thought
7. English Revolution and the politics of sovereignty: Hobbes
8. John Locke and the Glorious Revolution/ The American Revolution and the Federalist papers
9. English liberalism of Bentham/Smith and Mill
10. The French Revolution: Popular sovereignty, democracy and Rousseau
11. The Russian Revolution: Marxism, industrialization and class
12. Fascism and the state of exception: Schmitt
13. Anticolonial revolutions: Gramsci, Fanon and Ghandi, violence and liberation struggles

Contemporary Challenges
14. May 1968: Foucault and the politics of power/knowledge
15. Green, Ecological and Anarchist politics
16. Multiculturalism, ethnicity and race
17. Anti-capitalist Movement: Social and Global justice
18. Conclusion


1. What can we learn from political philosophy?
2. Foundations and contradictions of liberal thought
3. Are revolutions ever successful?
4. Marxism and communism
5. Anti-colonial politics
6. Challenges of the 1960s
7. What is social justice?
8. Contemporary rethinking

Module 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.  
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.  
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.  
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 BIDS 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.  
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  


This module is at CQFW Level 4