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Unit information: Contemporary Political Theory in 2018/19

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Unit name Contemporary Political Theory
Unit code POLI22202
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Fowler
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description

This unit provides a comprehensive introduction to the main theorists and issues in contemporary political theory and political philosophy. It focuses on two main issues which are interlinked: first on questions concerning the justification of the authority of the state and second on questions concerning the nature of the just society. Certain issues in democratic theory are also addressed.

The unit aims to:

  • provide a comprehensive overview of the main traditions and issues in contemporary political theory
  • provide students with a detailed understanding of four key liberal theories of justice
  • provide students with a detailed understanding of four key critiques of these liberal theories of justice
  • enable students to grasp the practical relevance of contemporary political theoretical debates to current issues in policy and politics.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

  1. Describe the key debates in contemporary political theory
  2. Explain and discuss key texts by Rawls, Nozick, Dworkin and Raz.
  3. Analyse and compare the critiques of these liberal theories of justice from a variety of different perspective.
  4. Construct articulate, concise and persuasive arguments in written essays, which apply these debates to current issues in policy and politics.

Teaching details

2 x 1 hour lecture 1 x 1 hour seminar

Assessment Details

  • 2000 word essay (25%)
  • 2 hour unseen written exam (75%)

The summative essay assesses the extent to which students have achieved outcomes 1, 2 and 4.

The exam assesses the extent to which students have achieved outcomes 1, 3 and 4.

Reading and References

  • Raz, Joseph, (1986) The Morality of Freedom. Oxford University Press
  • Dworkin, Ronald, (2000) Sovereign Virtue. Harvard University Press
  • Nozick, Robert (1974) Anarchy, State and Utopia. Basic Books
  • Rawls, John (revised edition) (1999) A Theory of Justice. Oxford University Press
  • Goodin, Robert E. Goodin and Pettit, Philip (eds) Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology (2nd edition). Blackwell

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