POL2076 : Political Thought: Liberalism, Socialism & Anarchism

  • Module Leader(s): Dr David Walker
  • Owning School:
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The module covers the values, ideas and arguments found in liberalism, socialism and anarchism. For liberalism key issues include right vs. good, liberty vs. democracy, and social justice vs. economic freedom. For socialism the issues of liberty vs. equality, capitalism vs. socialism, planning vs. the market, reform vs. revolution, and utopianism are focussed on. For anarchism the very different approaches of collectivist and individualist anarchism are looked at, with particular attention given to issues of human nature, maintaining social order, and achieving individual liberty and social solidarity. The aim of the module is for students to gain a critical understanding of these themes and issues.

Outline Of Syllabus


Module Introductory Lecture Meeting


Introduction to Liberalism
Classical Liberalism
Social Liberalism
‘Conservative’ Liberalism
European and US Liberalism
Themes of Liberalism Reconsidered


Introduction to Socialism
Owen and Early Socialism
Marx and Marxism
Leninism and Maoism
Sorel and Syndicalism
Social Democracy and Reformist Socialism


Introduction to Anarchism
Godwin's Anarchism
Stirner and the Anarchist critique
Kropotkin and Anarcho-Communism
Rothbard and Anarcho-Capitalism
Contemporary Anarchism


Liberty and Equality
Human Nature and Utopianism

Revision Lecture


These will cover the key themes noted under ‘Aims’

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 teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to the key ideas of the ideologies and provide focus for module. The seminars allow for participation by students in clarifying and exploring key ideas and issues. These help to develop critical-analytical and oral communication skills. Essays help to develop critical-analytical skills and written communication skills. Planning and organisational skills are developed throughout module, along with knowledge outcomes, which are tested in examination.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M502000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written examination will assess the students’ knowledge and understanding of material covered in the module.

The 2000 word essay will provide an opportunity for students to explore one of the topics in greater depth. It will assess the student’s ability to place and synthesise the material gained from lectures and seminars in appropriate contexts and their ability to critically and succinctly evaluate the ideas, concepts and theories introduced in lectures and explored in seminars. In addition the essay will also assess the capacity and initiative of students to undertake independent study of published and electronic materials.

Reading Lists


Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.