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Advanced Topics in Political Philosophy - PHI00083M

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Hannah Carnegy-Arbuthnott
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module will examine a range of texts in political philosophy, giving students the opportunity to think and write about fundamental conceptual and normative problems relating to issues in politics and policy. Themes covered may include: how to think about the value (if any) of equality; what the ideas of fairness and equality of opportunity require of institutions in their selection practices; the extent to which democracy gives people equal political power; how to theorise and address racial and gender injustice; the place of anger in political deliberation; the values of cooperation and solidarity; public funding of the arts; and questions around immigration and border controls. We’ll be reading some fascinating and challenging pieces of philosophy, including some very recent work from the cutting edge of the discipline.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module will examine a range of core conceptual, normative, and methodological issues relating to philosophical approaches to thinking about politics. The module aims to develop academic skills in the reading of texts in political philosophy and the relating of those texts to real world political problems. As a result, the module aims to develop in students analytical skills of identifying and solving abstract problems, and relating theory and reality.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should be able to:

  • Engage with and interpret complex texts in political philosophy;

  • Apply philosophical thinking to real-world problems of politics;

  • Understand methodological debates about the nature of political philosophy and its relation to the world of politics;

  • be able to read and critically engage with a wide variety of complex and difficult material in recent political philosophy;

  • develop and defend a considered view on important questions of social justice.

Module content

The precise issues and philosophers studied will vary to some degree from year to year, depending on the interests of the module convenor, but indicative topics will include issues such as political obligation and legitimacy; the justification of the state; inequality, gender and sexism; race and racism; disability, discrimination and implicit bias; the nature of individual rights; and the justification of democracy. The module will also involve a methodological component, looking at questions of ideal and non-ideal theory, and the relationship of political philosophy to public policy and the world of real politics.


Task Length % of module mark
Summative Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Summative Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

All feedback will be returned in line with University and Departmental policy.

Indicative reading

G. A. Cohen, If You’re An Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich
Tommie Shelby, Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent and Reform
Philip Pettit, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government
Elizabeth Anderson, The Imperative of Integration
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origins of Inequality
David Leopold and Marc Stears, eds., Political Theory: Methods and Approaches

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.