SSST Subjects

PS 240 Introduction to Political Thought


Programme(s) where module is offered

  • BA in Political Science and International Relations

Status (core, option, free choice)



FHEQ Level



Unit Value



Semester taught



Pre-Requisite Modules or Qualifications



Module Code

PS 240


Module coordinator

Maja Pulić


Applicable From



Educational Aims of the Module

  • This module examines certain basic questions of political life which are particularly pertinent in our age of deep and seemingly intractable moral and political conflict: Why do we need politics?
  • What should the aim(s) of politics be?
  • Who should rule and what legitimates their rule?
  • Must we consent to government and, if so, what form should that consent take?
  • Why should we obey the law?
  • Are there limits to what government can legitimately do to its citizens?
  • What rights do citizens have if the government exceeds these limits?
  • What is the relationship between politics and morality?
  • We explore different responses to these questions by critically engaging with a selection of key texts in the history of modern political thought, drawing upon the writings of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, David Hume, Isaiah Berlin, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Marx.
  • Through a detailed study of seminal texts in the history of political theory, students will not only gain an appreciation of some of the historically most influential and important philosophical responses to these problems but also develop a comprehensive understanding of various key political concepts which they can then apply to the analysis of contemporary issues.
  • The module builds upon the analytical and conceptual skills developed in the first year „conceptual component‟ of the political analysis course and will provide students with a much richer and more detailed study of the chosen texts.

Module Outline/Syllabus

  • Ancient Athenian Democracy

  • Socrates: How Socrates discovered what is right?

  • Human Nature

  • Machiavelli, The Prince

  • Aristotle

  • The Justifications of State

  • The Social Contract

  • Against the Social Contract

  • Plato

  • Civil disobedience

  • Democracy and its difficulties

  • Democratic Ideals

  • Liberty and Rights

  • Economic Justice

  • Justice between groups

  • Alternatives to Liberalism

  • Progress and Civilization


Student Engagement Hours

Type Number per Term Duration Total Time


45 minutes

45 hours



45 minutes

15 hours

Total Guided/Independent Learning Hours


Total Contact Hours


Total Engagement Hours



Assessment Method Summary

Type Number Required Duration / Length Weighting Timing / Submission Deadline

Final Exam


3 hours


End of semester

Mid-term exam 1 2 hours 20% Week 8

Presentations (seminars)


10-15 minutes


Every second class

Essay I

1 3 hours


12th November

Essay II


1500 words


10th December


Module Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Have a clear map of the main political debates and conceptual frameworks.

  • Be familiar with the historical overview of political thought

  • Critically analyse and interpret political phenomena.

  • Be able to understand historic-political and genealogical contextualization of political theories.

  • Understand the relevance of political thought for the study of politics and political praxis.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Lectures (ILO 1-5)

  • Readings (ILO 1-5)

  • Seminars (ILO 1-5)

  • Individual and group presentations (ILO 1-5)

  • Preparation and writing of a critical opinion in a form of an essay on selected issues (ILO 1-5)

  • Class discussions with continuing requirement of student participation (ILO 1-5)

  • Individual and small group conferences to discuss student knowledge, strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities for course improvement. (ILO 1-5)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Midterm Exam (ILO 1-5)

  • Essays (ILO 1-5)

  • Individual presentations and group discussions (ILO 1-5)

  • Final Examination (ILO 1-5)

Practical Skills:

  • Interpret data relating to economic justice

  • Recognise and apply models relating to liberalism in theoretical case studies

  • Utilise resources for research in the field of political thought

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Practical with tutor-lead support (PS: 1-3)

  • Essays (PS: 3)

  • Presentations and group discussions (PS: 1-3)


Assessment Strategy:

  • Exams (PS 1-3)

  • Presentations (PS 3)

  • Essays (PS 1, 3)

Transferable Skills:

  • Understanding core concepts and theories in political thought.

  • Capacity for independent learning through access to general learning resources

  • Ability to work in a group, as well as independently.

  • Constructing coherent arguments and ability for independent judgment.

  • Clarity of oral argument.

  • Clarity of written argument.

  • Ability to critically analyse and provide sound interpretation of demanding political writings.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Readings of classical and contemporary texts in the field of political thought (TS 1,2,4)

  • Group discussions and individual presentations (TS 1-7)

  • Lectures/presentations by the course instructor (TS 1-4)

  • Individual discussions and tutorials with students as needed and detailed feedback on their writings (TS 1-7)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Final Exam (TS 1-4)

  • essays and in-class presentation (TS 1-4)

  • mid-term exam (TS:1-4)


Key Texts and/or other learning materials

Set text

  • Rosen, M., Wolff, J., (1999), Political Thought: Oxford Readers, Oxford University Press

  • Coleman, J., (2000), A History of Political Thought: From Ancient Greece to Early Christianity, Blackwell Publishing

Supplementary Materials

  • Miller, D., (2003), Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003

  • Roberts, P., Sutch, P., (2012), An Introduction to Political Thought, Edinburgh University Press

  • Bird, C., (2010) An introduction to political philosophy, Cambridge University Press

  • Arendt, H. (1970) On Violence, Harcourt

  • Webber, M. (2004) Politics as a Vocation, Hackett Publishing

  • Aristotle, Politics (384-322 B.C.) Book I, Book II, Book III, Dover

  • Locke J. (2009) The Second Treatise of Civil Government , World Library Classics

Please note

This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the module and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided.

More detailed information on the learning outcomes, content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each module and programme can be found in the departmental or programme handbook.

The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed annually by the University of Buckingham and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Date of Production : June 2016

Date approved by School Learning and Teaching Committee:  

Date approved by School Board of Study :  

Date approved by University Learning and Teaching Committee:  

Date of Annual Review:  


Visit us

Hrasnička cesta 3a, Sarajevo, 71 000

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Entrance Exams are held at SSST, from April to September, starting at 9:00 a.m.

Contact us

Tel: +387 33 975 002

Fax: +387 33 975 030

Download brochure

Get the manual for freshman and prepare
for SSST Entrance Exam.

Download Download here

SSST © 2018 All rights reserved | Made by MANIA