Foundations of Political Theory (MRes)

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Kai Spiekermann CON 5.17, Dr Joseph Mazor and Prof Katrin Flikschuh CON 6.08


This course is compulsory on the MRes Political Science. This course is not available as an outside option.

Only available for first year MRes/PhD Political Science students in stream Political Theory. Not available as an outside option.

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 and will prepare doctoral students for choosing and reflecting on their methodological approach. Examples of topics covered are: the basics of philosophical reasoning and argumentation; the aims and justifications of political theory; different approaches to the history of political thought and the analysis of political texts; comparative political theory and postmodern theory.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Lectures and seminar in the MT concurrent with the MSc in Political Theory Foundation of Political Theory Course. LT seminars for MRes/PhD Political Theory students only with assigned readings of research relevant journal articles / book chapters. Individual students will take responsibility for introducing the material; there will be collective analysis and discussion. The course readings will be set to reflect each incoming year's particular research interests.

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

Formative coursework

Two 2,000 word formative essays.

Indicative reading

David Leopold and Marc Stears (eds.) (2008) Political Theory: Methods and Approaches Oxford: (Oxford: Oxford University Press); George Klosko (ed.) (2011) The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press); John S. Dryzek, Bonnie Honig and Anne Phillips (eds.) (2008) The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press); Gerald F. Gaus and Chandran Kukathas (2004) Handbook of Political Theory (London: Sage); Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit (eds.) (1993) A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell).


Essay (50%, 3000 words) and essay (50%, 3000 words).

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 13.7
Merit 60.5
Pass 24.2
Fail 1.6

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2014/15: 1

Average class size 2014/15: 1

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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