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PHI1014 : Introduction to Political Philosophy

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Shreyaa Bhatt
  • Owning School: Philosophical Studies & Combined Honours
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


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

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00N/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 teaching101:0010:00Tutorials
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:0050:00Review 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.

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.

Reading Lists