GV316      Half Unit
Advanced Issues in Applied Political Theory

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Kai Spiekermann


This course is available on the BSc in Government, BSc in Government and Economics, BSc in Government and History, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

This course is capped at one group. The deadline for enrolments is 12:00 noon on Friday 4 October 2019.


A foundational course in contemporary political theory (such as GV262 or equivalent) is recommended.

Course content

An investigation of contemporary questions in applied political theory. Taking as a starting point a pressing social and political challenge, the course instructs students to systematically apply different political theories to approach the problem, to understand and critically discuss different normative viewpoints, and to develop and defend their own position in these debates.

Examples of such themes include environmental and climate change, free speech, multiculturalism and toleration, poverty and global justice, colonialism, or surveillance and privacy. The topics are selected each year to reflect current debates and the interests of the course convener. The course gives students the opportunity to experience research-led teaching, as the course convener will typically create a syllabus to reflect their current research projects.

In 2019-20 the focus on the course will be the political philosophy of environmental change, especially climate change.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

During the reading week (week 6), all students have the opportunity for a one-on-one meeting with the convener to plan for their formative essay.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay.

Indicative reading

John Broome (2012) Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World, New York (W.W. Norton);

Stephen Gardiner, Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson and Henry Shue, eds. (2010) Climate Ethics: Essential Readings, Oxford (Oxford University Press);

Denis G. Arnold, ed. (2011) The ethics of global climate change, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press);

Stephen M. Gardiner (2011) A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change, Oxford (OUP);

Stephen M. Gardiner and David A. Weisbach (2016) Debating Climate Ethics. Oxford (OUP).


Essay (100%, 3000 words).

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2018/19: 15

Average class size 2018/19: 15

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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