Not available in 2015/16
GV4F5      Half Unit
Advanced Study of Key Political Thinkers

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Chandran Kukathas


This course is available on the MSc in Political Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at 1 group. The deadline for receipt of applications will likely be between Friday 25 September and Friday 9 October 2015, depending on the course. The exact deadline for applications will be confirmed at your programme induction.


An advanced undergraduate course in the History of Political Thought or Political Philosophy, or following consultation with the course teacher.

Course content

This course provides an opportunity to study in depth the work of one major political thinker. It will focus on one or a few of the major works of the figure studied, and also consider the main lines of criticism of that thinker, from other contemporary figures, later political philosophers, and modern scholars and critics. It will also be important to consider issues of interpretation, particularly when there are differing controversial readings of the theorist in question. Political thinkers who might be studied would include Plato, Aristotle, St Augustine, Aquinas, Marsilius, Dante, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Hume, Adam Smith, Hegel, Tocqueville, Marx, and Mill. The course would be taught as a seminar in political philosophy rather than one in intellectual history. The focus would be on understanding and critical engagement with the ideas of the figure under examination rather than on the study of the historical context of their work.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the LT for private study and assessment preparation.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to submit two formative essays of no more than 1500 words.

Indicative reading

David Hume, Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume, Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, David Hume, Essays Moral, Political and Literary


Essay (100%, 5000 words).

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 25
Merit 47.9
Pass 25
Fail 2.1

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2014/15: 15

Average class size 2014/15: Unavailable

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication