Module Catalogue 2024/25

PHI1014 : Introduction to Political Philosophy

PHI1014 : Introduction to Political Philosophy

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gus Hewlett
  • Owning School: School X
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



This module introduces students to the European tradition of political philosophy from classical antiquity to the modern age. Students will engage with the major works of central thinkers in European political thought and philosophy, examining, comparing and critiquing their theories of government and articulations of fundamental political concepts such as state, sovereignty, liberty, justice, rights, obligation, violence and human nature. By reading a range of canonical texts in Western political philosophy, students will gain an in depth understanding of the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of modern political ideas and practice; students will also be introduced to certain critical responses to the “canon”, enabling them to question its formation through engagement with alternative and / or marginal views.

Outline Of Syllabus

Key texts and thinkers covered may include, but are not limited to:

Machiavelli’s The Prince
Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan and De Cive
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract and Second Discourse
Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women
Carole Pateman’s The Sexual Contract
Charles Mills’ The Racial Contract
Dominic Wellburn’s Canon Controversies in Political Thought

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

On completing this module students will:

-       Know the key texts and concepts which form the canon of Western Political Philosophy
-       Be able to recognise and critically evaluate different treatments of political ideas such as freedom, justice, sovereignty, obligation, revolution and social contract.
-       Recognise the continued relevance of these thinkers’ works to contemporary political issues and concerns.
-       Appreciate how a ‘canon’ of thought is formed, and (where appropriate) be able to question that formation through engagement with alternative views.

Intended Skill Outcomes

On completing this module students will:

-       Be able to practise a variety of analytical approaches to reading historical texts: conceptual, contextual, comparative and critical;
-       Be able to understand and evaluate different views and reach balanced judgments of their own;
-       Be able to to search and retrieve sources, and reflect on ethical aspects of research;
-       Be able to produce extended pieces of written assessment (c. 2000 words), based on independent research.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture81:008:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Essay preparation and completion
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 teaching81:008:00Tutorials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study152:0052:00Review lecture material, prepare for small group teaching and assessment
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will provide essential subject-specific knowledge on a range of seminal thinkers and ideas. Seminars permit discussion of the relative merits of these thinkers and ideas and guide independent analysis, interpretation, and critique.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

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

Students will be assessed by a 2000-word essay and will be able to choose from a range of essay questions. The essay tests 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.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Welcome to Newcastle University Module Catalogue

This is where you will be able to find all key information about modules on your programme of study. It will help you make an informed decision on the options available to you within your programme.

You may have some queries about the modules available to you. Your school office will be able to signpost you to someone who will support you with any queries.


The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2024 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2025/26 entry will be published here in early-April 2025. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.