GV100GC      Half Unit
Introduction to Political Theory (Spring Semester)

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Paul Kelly


This course is available to General Course ‘Spring Semester’ students.

Course content

An introduction to political theory through the thought and texts of some of the most important political theorists. A study of the ideas of some of the major political theorists from the early modern to the 20th Century. Topics will include: theories of human nature, the origin of government and law, man's relation to society and the state, the basis of political obligation, the idea of social contract, the idea of social progress, the critique of capitalism, and questions about race and gender. The thinkers discussed this year will include: Rousseau, Kant, J S Mill, Marx, Nkrumah, Arendt, Fanon.


This course provides a combination of classes and lectures totalling 30 hours in the Lent term, and 3 hours in the Summer term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and classes. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of the Lent term.

The lecture in ST1 will be a revision lecture and the class in ST1 will be a revision class.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

D. Boucher and P. Kelly, Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (Oxford 2009); Rousseau, Discourse on the Origins of Inequality and The Social Contract; J S Mill, Utilitarianism, The Subjection of Women, and On Liberty; Marx, Selected Writings (Ed D McLellan); Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism; Fanon, Black Skins, White Masks.


Essay (100%, 2000 words) in the ST.

The summative assessment will be 1 essay for whole course submitted in week 2 of the ST.


The Class Summary Grade for General Course ‘Spring Semester’ students will be calculated as follows: 80% class participation and 20% attendance.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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