GV4F5      Half Unit
Advanced Study of Key Political Thinkers

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Lucia Rubinelli


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 applications is 1pm, Friday, 29 September 2017. You will be informed of the outcome by 12 noon, Monday, 2 October 2017.


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 Carl Schmitt. It will focus on his major works, and also consider the main lines of criticism from contemporary scholars. It will also be important to consider issues of interpretation, particularly when there are differing controversial readings of Schmitt’s work. The course will be taught as a seminar in political theory rather than one in intellectual history. The focus will be on understanding and critical engagement with the ideas of Carl Schmitt rather than on the study of the historical context of his work. Each class will focus on one of his major books. The last session will deal with critiques and uses of his thought by contemporary scholars.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

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

Formative coursework

Students will be encouraged to submit one formative essay of no more than 1500 words.

Indicative reading

Schmitt, C., The concept of the political, 2007, Schmitt, C., The Leviathan in the state theory of Thomas Hobbes: Meaning and failure of a political symbol, 2008, Schmitt, C., The crisis of parliamentary democracy, 1985, Schmitt, C., Political theology, 2005, Schmitt, C., On dictatorship, 2013, Schmitt, C., Constitutional Theory, 2008, Schmitt, C., The nomos of the earth, 2003

Thinkers who critically engaged with Schmitt’s ideas will also be studied. An indicative list includes Agamben, G., State of Exception (2005), Mouffe, C., The Challenge of Carl Schmitt, 1999, Holmes, S., The Anatomy of Antiliberalism, 1993, Dyzenhaus, D., Law as Politics. Carl Schmitt's Critique of Liberalism, 1998, Sartori, G., 1989, “The Essence of the Political in Carl Schmitt,” Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1 (1): 63–75, Strauss, L., ‘Notes on Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political’, in Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, 2007


Essay (100%, 5000 words).

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 37
Merit 51.9
Pass 11.1
Fail 0

Teachers' comment

NB. Please note that the content, teacher, and syllabus of the course have changed since 2016-2017. The course survey results and the student performance results are based on a three-year average.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2016/17: 20

Average class size 2016/17: 19

Controlled access 2016/17: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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

Course survey results

(2013/14 - 2014/15 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 78%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)