Politics and Power
Undergraduate: Level 4
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
29 May 2019
Requisites for this module
BA 0A56 Political Theory and Public Policy (Including Year Abroad),
BA 7L29 Political Theory and Public Policy,
BA 7L30 Political Theory and Public Policy (Including Placement Year),
BA L200 Politics,
BA L201 Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA L202 Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA L203 Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA L225 Politics and International Relations,
BA L226 Politics and International Relations (Including Year Abroad),
BA L227 Politics and International Relations (Including Placement Year)
GV150 is the second of a two-part module. With GV151 last term, we study some fundamental texts of the 'Western' philosophical tradition and seek to examine the assumptions underlying these texts as well as the implications they have for us today.
We will explore profound themes of truth, justice, democracy, empire, what it is to live "a good life," the self, morality, the fair distribution of resources, the meanings of labour and gender, liberalism, republicanism, the meaning of mass society (particularly as it impacts the individual), and the despairing turn from optimistic anticipation of human emancipation. We will take care to locate these texts in their respective historical contexts to better understand them as political acts. That is, these authors were responding to their particular contexts and trying to effect change.
This term, we move solidly into the modern period, exploring Locke's social contract theory, and his seminal discussion of private property. Rousseau then condemns the modern period and its effects on man. Burke will take social contract theorists to task for their thin understanding of the state. Wollstonecraft introduces us to her brand of feminism and later, Mill introduces his. We discuss Marx's concerns about the effects of capitalism on democracy, and end with Nietzsche, a harbinger of the 20th century.
These texts will often unnerve and unsettle. They are easily misinterpreted and very provocative, dealing with questions that may profoundly disconcert the reader. Be very careful in what you take from these texts. Be attentive and generous in understanding what they are trying to say. Our purpose in engaging with these texts is not to canonize them; rather, it is to understand their contribution to the history of the western world – for better or for worse.
1. To introduce students to critics of liberalism and to stimulate interest in the topic
2. To familiarise students with key concepts in political theory such as freedom, rights, equality, and with debates that surround these concepts.
3. To equip students with the understanding of the relevance of political theory to the study of politics. These are not esoteric texts; they are profound political acts with current relevance.
4. To enhance students’ abilities for logical argumentation and critical thinking.
5. To develop students’ ability to articulate their views on complicated political and moral questions and to defend those views using reasoned argument – both orally, due to practice during lecture and class, and in writing, through the required assignments.
The skills of presenting, defending, and criticising rigorous normative arguments are valued across numerous professions. The module is useful for employability in most sectors, including with NGOs, think tanks, political parties, and the civil services. Skills of argumentation and careful writing are also indispensable for careers in law and consulting. If a student’s specialisation is in empirical political science, the normative study of politics develops students’ sense of which empirical questions and topics are morally important and why. Thus, the course is useful for students preparing to undertake postgraduate research in political science.
No additional information available.
1 x 1 hour lecture per week, 1 x 1 hour class per week
- Mill, John Stuart. (c1996) 'On the Subjection of Women', in Princeton readings in political thought: essential texts since Plato, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press., pp.388-397
- Burke, Edmund. (c1996) 'Reflections on the Revolution in France', in Princeton readings in political thought: essential texts since Plato, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press., pp.349-355
- Marx, Karl. (2000) 'Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts', in Selected writings, Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp.83-104
- Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. (c1996) 'Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men', in Princeton readings in political thought: essential texts since Plato, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press., pp.293-313
- Mill, John Stuart. (c1996) 'On Liberty', in Princeton readings in political thought: essential texts since Plato, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press., pp.375-388
- Wollstonecraft, Mary. (c1996) 'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman', in Princeton readings in political thought: essential texts since Plato, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press., pp.362-370
- Locke, John. (c1996) 'The Second Treatise of Government', in Princeton readings in political thought: essential texts since Plato, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press., pp.264-279
- Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich; McLellan, David. (2008) The Communist manifesto, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. (c1996) 'On the Social Contract', in Princeton readings in political thought: essential texts since Plato, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press., pp.280-292
- Locke, John; Macpherson, C. B. (c1980) Second treatise of government, Indianapolis, Ind: Hackett.
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Laura Montanaro plus Graduate Teaching Assistants
Module Supervisor: Dr Montanaro, firstname.lastname@example.org
Module Administrator: Nicola Rowley, email@example.com
No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 90 hours, 90 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).
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