Skip to main content

Unit information: Contemporary Political Theory in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Contemporary Political Theory
Unit code POLI22202
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Fowler
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides a comprehensive introduction to analytic political theory from the 1970s to the present day, with a focus on leading liberal theorists and their critics. It does so via a discussion of normative theorising around key topics and themes, and shows how these theories bear on various applied questions

The unit aims to:

  • provide a comprehensive overview of the main traditions and issues in contemporary political theory
  • provide students with a detailed understanding of liberal theories of justice
  • provide students with a familiarity with normative reasoning, and apply those skills to selected case studies.
  • enable students to grasp the practical relevance of contemporary political theoretical debates to current issues in policy and politics.
  • To enable students to engage in reasoned debate with their peers, and be able to identify the areas of either shared values or disagreement which underly their different ideological perspectives.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

  1. Describe the core theories in contemporary political theory.
  2. Identify various moral issues at stake in public policy and articulate different reasonable views that are appropriate on each question.
  3. Analyse and compare liberal theories of justice from a variety of different perspective.
  4. Construct articulate, concise and persuasive arguments in written essays, which apply these debates to current issues in policy and politics.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

2,000 word essay 1 (25%) 2,000 word essay 2 (75%)

Both assessments test all learning outcomes listed above

Reading and References

  • Raz, Joseph, (1986) The Morality of Freedom. Oxford University Press
  • Dworkin, Ronald, (2000) Sovereign Virtue. Harvard University Press
  • Nozick, Robert (1974) Anarchy, State and Utopia. Basic Books
  • Rawls, John (revised edition) (1999) A Theory of Justice. Oxford University Press
  • Goodin, Robert E. Goodin and Pettit, Philip (eds) Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology (2nd edition). Blackwell