Study Abroad and Exchanges



POL2090 : Contemporary Political Philosophy

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


•       To introduce students to prominent schools of thought and representative thinkers in contemporary political philosophy
•       To provide students with a thorough knowledge of a range of arguments drawn from this literature on important political issues
•       To advance the ability of students to analyse and assess complex normative arguments
•       To help students improve their skills in developing sustained, logically coherent, and persuasive oral and written arguments.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module explores questions of how the social and political world ought to operate. It examines a set of themes that have received considerable attention in political affairs and normative political theory, ranging from concepts such as rights and freedom to issues such as distributive justice and fraternity. The module begins by exploring the ideas of one major contributor to these debates – John Rawls – and proceeds by considering literature that arose in response to or after Rawls’ work. It considers questions such as: whether rights are best defended through a utilitarian or deontological argument? Do property rights limit the amount of wealth that can redistributed to poorer groups within a population? Is there a duty amongst members of the population to direct their choices in markets towards the benefit of others? To what extent, if at all, can and should the state be neutral amongst views of the good life? The focus of the module will be to read key literature on these subjects and consider the merits of conflicting viewpoints with the aim of exploring what a defensible account of justice requires.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The main function of lectures is to provide students with an overview of topics and introduce them to the main thinkers studied on the module.
Small group teaching provides students with the opportunity to discuss and debate the issues with their peers, to deepen their knowledge through exchange of ideas about set readings, and to further understanding by raising questions. They also provide a forum to develop oral and team skills in various activities.
Both of the above require students to undertake pre-set readings in order to familiarise themselves with relevant issues and ideas beforehand and be prepared to undertake set tasks.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A50Unseen written exam
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Both forms of assessment are designed to encourage students to verse themselves in the relevant reading material, present lines of disagreement and debate, and consider how particular positions can be systematically defended and criticised. The essay is used to ensure students can take a specific topic and work through it in considerable depth, while the exam provides a scenario in which students have been pushed to build a knowledge of the various topics on the module that can be recalled and applied in a set timeframe.

Reading Lists