Module code: POL1014

Module Overview

This module serves as a general introduction to political and social philosophy through a historical survey of key thinkers and themes. The major themes will be: sovereignty; political obligation; liberty. These themes will be addressed through a study of major writers in political philosophy from the seventeenth century to the present day.

Module provider


Module Leader

LEVERINGHAUS Alex (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content


1. Sovereignty

  • Historical development of the concept.

  • Essential aspects – legal; political; internal; external.


  •   Machiavelli; Hobbes; Locke; Rousseau.

2. Political Obligation

  • Historical development of the concept: voluntaristic; teleological; other duty theories.

  • Limits to political obligation.

  • General justification for political obligation.


  • Hobbes; Locke; Rousseau.

3. Liberty, Rights  and Citizenship

  • Historical development of the concept: different traditions of interpreting liberty.

  • Negative liberty in the history of political thought.

  • Positive liberty in the history of political thought.


  • Locke; Rousseau; Mill; Berlin.

4. Equality and the Welfare State

  • Historical development of the welfare state

  • Green and Hobhouse

  • Hobson and Keynes


  • Green; Hobhouse; Hobson

5. Justice

  • Distributive and entitlement theories of justice


  • John Rawls and Robert Nozick


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation SEMINAR PRESENTATION 20
Coursework ESSAY (1500 WORDS) 40
Examination 2-HOUR EXAMINATION 40

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to

- demonstrate an understanding of social and political thinkers;

- employ normative theory to underpin an argument;

- compare and contrast the arguments of various thinkers;

- utilize relevant materials to underpin arguments;

- relate theories to current political issues

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Seminar presentation (individual) - 20% 

  • Essay (1500 words) - 40%

  • Exam (2 Hours) - 40%


Formative assessment and feedback

  • Seminar presentations (30 minutes) by small groups of students in tutorials.

  • Tutorial discussion of seminar presentation and feedback led by tutor for course.

Module aims

  • To introduce central issues and themes in political philosophy.
  • To introduce central thinkers in political philosophy from the Enlightenment to the late twentieth century.
  • To be aware of conflicts in perspectives between different approaches.
  • To produce a sound knowledge of the major thinkers and themes in political philosophy.
  • To develop and deepen the students' interest in understanding political issues in terms of the central thinkers and principles involved.
  • To enable students to integrate a wide range of views from various sources and to identify the philosophical schools to which they attach.
  • To enable students to produce succinct, cogent arguments aware of the philosophical assumptions and frameworks on which they depend.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify different approaches to politics in terms of the philosophical and theoretical perspectives that underlie them. KC
002 Understand and compare the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to in politics and political philosophy. KC
003 Identify the arguments of different thinkers in the history of political thought in terms of how they inform current theory and debates. KCP
004 Present an account of the implications for politics of different philosophical approaches. KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Introduce students to a new topic, and provide room for student-led discussion of the topic.

The learning and teaching methods include:

11 x 1hr Lectures, 11 x 1hr seminar tutorials, plus independent reading and essay preparation.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POL1014

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
International Relations BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Public Affairs MPA 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.