Contemporary Political Philosophy - POL00004I

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Matthew Festenstein
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2017-18

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2017-18 to Summer Term 2017-18

Module aims

  • to develop in students a critical understanding of approaches to and problems in contemporary political philosophy
  • to develop students' analytical, argumentative and communicative skills.

We commonly declare political arrangements to be just or unjust. For example, we might think that it is unjust that those who have worked hard and been successful in life should have to pay taxes to support the less industrious. Alternatively, we might think it unjust that some people get a better start in life than others (have richer parents, or better education), and we might therefore think that the state ought to compensate those who are disadvantaged. But by what criteria do we decide that political arrangements are just or unjust? What would a just society be like? And why?

These are the central questions of this module. We shall address them via a detailed examination of some of the most important work on social justice to have been published during the past fifty years. In Autumn term, we’ll carefully read the work of John Rawls, as well as looking at a range of important critical and secondary material. In Spring term, we’ll examine some of the reactions and responses to Rawls’s work in the years since the publication of his A Theory of Justice (1971), from libertarian, communitarian, feminist and egalitarian critics. Other philosophers studied may include Robert Nozick, Susan Moller Okin, Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor, and G. A. Cohen.

Module learning outcomes

  • have a critical understanding of approaches to and problems in contemporary political philosophy
  • have an ability to advance and analyse arguments in political philosophy

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 40
University - closed examination
Contemporary Political Philosophy
2 hours 60

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 40
University - closed examination
Contemporary Political Philosophy
2 hours 60

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than six weeks after submission; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971/revised edition 1999)

John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001)

Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)



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.