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Unit information: Texts in Modern Political Philosophy in 2015/16

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Unit name Texts in Modern Political Philosophy
Unit code PHIL10027
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Finn Spicer
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The course will consider a key text in political philosophy from modern period (for example: Hobbes' Leviathon, Locke's Treatise on Government, Rousseau's Social Contract, or Mill's On Liberty) and engage with it philosophically.


The unit aims to bring to life a seminal text in modern philosophy by engaging critically with its arguments. The unit aims to establish this work as philosophically interesting in its own right and of interest to contemporary political philosophers.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course, students will:

(1) have a thorough knowledge of a key text from early modern philosophy.

(2) be familiar with some key secondary literature on this text, and be able to engage critically with it.

(3) be able to engage critically with the author's positions and arguments.

(4) be in a position to relate some key ideas in this text to modern philosophical debates.

Teaching Information

One lecture (including time for interaction) per week.

Assessment Information

One 2000-3000 word essay, from a list of questions designed to test intended learning outcomes (1), (2), (3) and (4).

Reading and References

The target text. At least one contemporaneous text. At least one modern introduction to the target philosopher/text.

Illustrative examples:

  • Key text: J-J Rousseau, The Social Contract and other Political Writings trans Hoare, ed Betram (Forthcoming, Penguin Publishing);
  • secondary text: Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Rousseau and the Social Contract, by C. Bertram, (Routledge Publishing, 2003)