Module Catalogue 2019/20

POL1022 : Introduction to Political Philosophy (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ian O'Flynn
  • Lecturer: Dr Thom Brooks
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



•       To introduce students to political thought as a discipline within the academic study of politics.
•       To develop their ability to analyse arguments and to examine fundamental questions of political life in a rational and rigorous fashion.
•       To give them a knowledge and understanding of the fundamental concepts of normative political theory, such as power, authority, democracy, liberty, and rights.
•       To provide them with a foundation from which they can go on to take other modules in political thought and political philosophy.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is organised around a number of ideas and issues fundamental to political life. It examines concepts and ideas fundamental to our political culture, such as power, authority, democracy, rights and freedom. It also examines the issues and arguments that surround these ideas: Why do human beings need government? How do some people acquire the right to rule others? Why should we suppose that democracy is the best or the uniquely right form of government? Are there limits to what majorities may legitimately impose upon minorities? Do human beings have rights that properly limit the power of governments and majorities? Why should we value freedom and how do we determine when people’s freedom is justifiably curtailed? Is there a general obligation to obey laws and, if there is, are there occasions when we are entitled to disobey them?

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Having taken this module, students will have:
•       been introduced to political thought as a subject of academic study.
•       gained an understanding of the fundamental concepts of normative political theory, such as power, authority, democracy, liberty, and rights.
•       secured a foundation from which they can tackle other modules - historical and non-historical - in political thought and political philosophy.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students will have gained:
1. The skill of analysing concepts and arguments
2. the ability to examine the fundamental issues of politics in a rational and rigorous fashion.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Present
    • Data Synthesis : Present
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Present
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Present
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Present
      • Problem Solving : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Present

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

Rationale and relationship to learning outcomes: Lectures are designed to introduce students to a subject which, in character as well as content, is wholly new to most students. As well as informing students about the subject-matter of the module, they convey the techniques of analysing concepts and arguments and subjecting claims to rigorous assessment. Seminars are intended to make students grapple with issues of political thought themselves and to develop their analytical and reasoning skills. For this module, essay writing is conceived as a part of learning and skills development as well as a vehicle for assessment.

Reading Lists

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

An unseen examination is used because requiring students to tackle questions using only their own resources is a good way of testing their understanding of, and skills in, the subject. Students are required to write essays and answer exam questions on different subject-areas of the module to ensure coverage of the syllabus.

Two essays are set partly so that students have a written exercise early on and late on in the semester (thereby focusing their attention throughout) and partly because analysing and arguing on paper are important aspects of the subject. Because of the nature of the subject, two brief essays (1500 words) are more appropriate than one longer essay.

Exchange Students:

An alternative form of assessment will be set for exchange students from non-English speaking home institutions replacing the examination. The alternative form of assessment is set in accordance with the University Assessment tariff.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 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 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.