Foundations of Political Theory

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Leigh Jenco


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Political Theory and MSc in Political Theory (Research). This course is available on the MRes Political Science, MRes/PhD Political Science (Qualitative stream B) and MRes/PhD Political Science (Quantitative stream A). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Only available as an outside option with the permission of the MSc Political Theory convenor.

Course content

This course provides a systematic introduction to the philosophical and methodological foundations of political theory. It aims to give students a comprehensive conceptual toolbox that can be brought to bear on many different substantive problems and research questions in political theory and neighbouring fields. The course covers four broad areas: philosophy of history and the history of ideas; positive and analytical political theory; critical theory; post-structuralism and comparative political thought.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

Two 2,000 word formative essays.

Indicative reading

Marc Stears & David Leopold, Political Theory: Methods and Approaches; Andrew Vincent, The Nature of Political Theory; John S. Dryzek, Bonnie Honig & Anne Philips, The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, Thomas Christiano & John Christman, Contemporary Debates in Political Philosophy.


Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the MT.
Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Two 3000 words assessed essays, one at the end of MT and one at the beginning of ST (100%).

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2012/13: 47

Average class size 2012/13: 16

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills