Research Methods in Political Theory

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Anne Phillips and Prof Chandran Kukathas


This course is compulsory on the MRes Political Science. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course provides an introduction to the philosophical and methodological foundations of political theory. It aims to give doctoral 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 and will prepare doctoral students for choosing and reflecting on their methodological approach. The course runs in concurrence with the Political Philosophy Research Seminar and the Doctoral Workshop in Political Theory, complemented by a reading group in the Lent Term on methodological questions in political theory.


20 hours of workshops in the MT. 10 hours of seminars and 20 hours of workshops in the LT. 4 hours of workshops in the ST.

Formative coursework

Regular presentations in the reading group.

Indicative reading

Some possible choices for the reading group:

  • Roxanna Euben, 2008, Journeys to the Other Shore, Princeton University Press.
  • Jonathan Lear, 2008, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation, Harvard University Press.
  • Lois McNay, 2014, The Misguided Search for the Political: Social Weightlessness in Democratic Theory, Polity Press.
  • J. David Velleman, 2013, Foundations for Moral Relativism, Open Book Publishers.
  • Jacob Levy, 2015, Rationalism, Pluralism and Freedom, OUP.
  • Michael Freeden, 2013, The Political Theory of Political Thinking, OUP.
  • Miranda Fricker, 2007, Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing, OUP.
  • Philip Pettit, 2012, On the People's Terms, CUP.


Essay (50%, 4000 words) in the LT.
Essay (50%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2016/17: 2

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication