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Political Philosophy

  • Module code: PH7806
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module involves guided study of one or more major works of modern political philosophy. Texts and themes vary from year to year, but possible topics include: power, class, the state, sovereignty, government, organisation, institution, constitution, representation, democracy, ideology, property, mode of production, capitalism, colonialism, slavery, violence, subjection, nature, citizenship, law, rights, difference, justice, legitimacy, insurrection, insurgency, revolution, resistance, and so on. Approaches to the material will be filtered through contemporary debates in European philosophy and critical theory, with reference to figures like Agamben, Foucault, Negri or Rancière; primary texts may include canonical works by Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, as well as material associated with major political sequences like the revolutions in France, the Americas, Russia, Cuba, and so on, or with more recent sequences like the anti-colonial struggles, May 68, or social mobilisations around questions of race, sex, class, debt, etc. 

Aims

The aims of this module are to:

  • Offer a focused engagement with the work of one or more major political philosophers.
  • Enable students to analyze some of the most significant concepts discussed by modern political philosophers, e.g. concepts of sovereignty, democracy, representation, organisation, class, institution, the state, citizenship, the people, the multitude, the subject, and so on.
  • Enable students to gain some critical awareness of some prominent current lines of debate in contemporary political philosophy.
  • Introduce students to some of the general characteristic features of modern political philosophy.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the distinctive features, issues and problems of the work of at least one modern political philosopher.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some of the general characteristic features of modern political philosophy, which serve to distinguish it from other fields and periods of European philosophy.
  • Undertake the work of close textual analysis of demanding critical and philosophical texts.
  • Comprehend, reconstruct and discuss philosophical arguments, and situate these arguments in the context of contemporary French philosophy. 

Curriculum content

The curriculum content will vary year on year, and will be outlined in the annual Course Guide. It will normally involve a mix of canonical works of modern European political philosophy (e.g. by Rousseau, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and so on) and works by contemporary figures like Agamben, Foucault, Negri, Rancière.

Teaching and learning strategy

This module will be taught by means of a mix of lectures and seminars, supplemented by individual tutorials and private study. Emphasis is placed on seminar-based discussion.

Main types of activity:

  • Seminars/lectures: 11 taught sessions (2.5 hours each) = 28 hours.
  • Group and individual tutorials: one scheduled hour (plus office hours).
  • Directed and Independent Learning Total: 271 hours.

Grand total : 300 hours.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to test a student's ability to meet the module's learning outcomes. Summative assessment normally involves a single final essay of 5000 to 6000 words, worth 100% of the mark.

The skills required to prepare this assessed element will be developed in a variety of formative activities throughout the module, notably through class discussion, feedback on in-class presentations, and individual tutorials. Preparation of the final essay normally includes a scheduled tutorial with the module tutor. The relatively long length of the final essay is designed, furthermore, to help provide a transition from the shorter essays typically prepared for TB1 modules and the 15,000-word MA dissertation.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the distinctive features, issues and problems of the work of at least one major political philosopher. Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through the two pieces of individual written work.
Demonstrate an understanding of some of the general characteristic features of modern political philosophy, which serve to distinguish it from other fields and periods of European philosophy. Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through the two pieces of individual written work.
Undertake the work of close textual analysis of demanding critical and philosophical texts. Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through the two pieces of individual written work.
Comprehend, reconstruct and discuss philosophical arguments, and situate these arguments in the context of contemporary debates. Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through the two pieces of individual written work.

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Coursework 5000 to 6000 word essay 100
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS a requirement that the major category of assessment is passed in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

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