Global Opportunities

PHI3001 : Social and Political Philosophy

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To introduce students to particular themes and issues in contemporary moral and political philosophy and their relation to culture and society.

There is no shortage of people and institutions telling you what to do: your parents, friends, the University, the government; so why do we do what they say, if we do? How do we know who to obey and who to disobey? This module will investigate the concepts of authority, legitimacy and domination, in order to understand the structure of both reason and contemporary culture. The module will cover various accounts of political justification and the schools of political thought (liberalism, libertarianism and socialism) as well as their philosophical foundations in writers as diverse as Karl Marx and John Rawls.

Outline Of Syllabus

This is part 1 of a series of lectures concerned with the relationship between practical reason, contemporary culture and the crisis of values brought on by subjectivism and the rise of empirical science. In this part we shall look specifically at:
1.       Introduction: the concept of authority
2.       The good reason thesis
3.       Rawls and the theory of justice
4.       Libertarianism
5.       Marx, historical materialism and ideological critique
The subjects of the lectures will be augmented by discussions in tutorials of specific issues using examples drawn from art, religion, science and ethics.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Essay preparation and completion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities101:0010:00Specific research or reading activities developed and directed by academic staff
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Tutorials
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00Review lecture material, prepare for small group teaching and assessment
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide students with a systematic account of the concepts and ideas of the treated thinkers and their relation to key aspects of life e.g. politics, art, science. Students are given a structured reading list, a set of lecture notes with tutorial summaries, supported by controlled questions and references to specific works in order to develop the interpretative, logical and analytical skills required for good argument.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A1002000 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The students have the choice between picking an essay title out of six standard topics or designing their own with their tutor’s help and approval. This makes it possible to assess knowledge possession and advanced theoretical understanding as well as the critical and creative verbal skills of the student. The essays test the ability to think analytically, creatively, self-critically and independently as well as managing one’s own work to set time limits. This assessment method also gauges the students’ ability to move between generalisation and appropriately detailed discussion, to cite relevant texts and interpret them adequately, to discover examples in support of or to challenge a position, and to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant considerations.

Reading Lists