GV4H4      Half Unit
Foundations of Political Theory

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Kai Spiekermann


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Political Theory. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This course provides an introduction to the philosophical and methodological foundations of political theory. It aims to give participants a conceptual toolbox that can be brought to bear on many different substantive problems and research questions in political theory and neighbouring fields. The course introduces some central methodological debates in contemporary political theory, explores the links between political theory and related disciplines, and familiarises students with different approaches to political theorising.


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

Week 6 will be a reading and feedback week.

Updated following approval from timetables (Alex 31/07/19 AB)

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

David Leopold and Marc Stears (eds.) (2008) Political Theory: Methods and Approaches (Oxford: Oxford University Press); John S. Dryzek, Bonnie Honig and Anne Phillips (eds.) (2008) The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press); Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit (eds.) (1993) A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell); Michael Smith (1994) The Moral Problem (Oxford: Blackwell); Keith Dowding (2015) The Philosophy and Methods of Political Science (Palgrave).


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 23.8
Merit 65.6
Pass 9.8
Fail 0.8

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2018/19: 49

Average class size 2018/19: 16

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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