GV4H4      Half Unit
Foundations of Political Theory

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Kai Spiekermann and Dr Joseph Mazor


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Political Theory. This course is 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 conceptual toolbox that can be brought to bear on many different substantive problems and research questions in political theory and neighbouring fields. 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. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Week 6 will be a reading and feedback week.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT and 1 essay in January.

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).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2014/15: 42

Average class size 2014/15: 21

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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