Module Catalogue 2018/19

POL2079 : Political Thought: Hobbes to Marx (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2018/19
  • Module Leader(s): Dr David Walker
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The module focuses on the ideas of five of the most influential political thinkers of the modern era: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill and Marx. Each of these thinkers attempts to provide answers to the most fundamental questions of politics, for example why do human beings need government? How can some human beings gain the right to rule others? Should we place limits on the scope of political authority and when can we justifiably defy it? Ideas of the ‘social contract’, liberty, democracy, class and revolution will all be considered in this module. The aims in this module are to enable students to gain a grasp of the political ideas of the five thinkers, to identify some of the chief continuities and contrasts between them, to think critically about their ideas, and to gain an awareness of the significance and impact of their thought.

Outline Of Syllabus

Introduction to module
Hobbes on method and human nature
Hobbes on the state of nature
Hobbes on the social contract and the state
Hobbes and religion
Locke on the first treatise
Locke on the state of nature
Locke on political society, consent, trust and revolution
Locke on property and toleration
Rousseau on the state of nature, ‘natural man’ and the development of society
Rousseau on the social contract
Rousseau on freedom and the general will
Rousseau on government, education and religion
Mill on utilitarianism
Mill on liberty
Mill on liberties, limits and individuality
Mill on representative government, the subjection of women, and socialism
Marx on alienation and historical materialism
Marx on class and state
Marx on revolution and communism
Marx on capitalism
Human nature and the state of nature
Social contract and liberty
Revision lecture


These will cover understanding the principal texts, and discussion of key issues relating to each of the five thinkers.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

The intended knowledge outcomes are: a good grasp of the most important ideas of the five thinkers studied; an insight into how their ideas relate to one another; a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of these ideas; and an awareness of what is significant about these ideas and their impact upon subsequent political thought

Intended Skill Outcomes

The main intended skill outcomes for students are: to develop their critical-analytical ability, their written and oral communication skills, planning and organisational skills, and their teamwork skills.

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
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • 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
  • Application
    • Commercial Acumen
      • Governance Awareness : Present
    • Social Cultural Global Awareness : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00Reading groups
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1159:00159:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to the key ideas of the five thinkers 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. The reading groups help to develop teamwork 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.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A40Multiple Choice Examination
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M602400 WORD ESSAY
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The multiple choice examination will assess the students’ knowledge and understanding of the full breadth of material covered in the module.

The 2400 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.

RESIT ASSESSMENT: 100% unseen written examination (note: this is an essay style format examination and NOT a multiple choice exam)

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 2018/19 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 2018/19 entry will be published here in early-April 2018. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.