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Introduction to Political Theory: States, Liberty and Revolution - POL00011C

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Adam Fusco
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module introduces stage one students to a number of fundamental questions in politics, including the justification of political authority, the value of liberty in political society, and when revolution, if ever, is justified in politics. It aims to equip students with the skills to evaluate such questions through the reading and use of the historical and analytical resources of political theory understood as a broad discipline.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

Introduction to political theory: states, liberty and revolution introduces stage one students to the discipline and subject matter of political theory. It introduces students to a range of fundamental questions of political life, the answers to which require theoretical analysis, including: upon what basis, if any, does the state derive its authority?; what relationships make political subjects unfree?; and when, if ever, is it justified to revolt against a political order? To do this, the module introduces students to thinkers in the history of political thought and its contemporary re-canonisation who have grappled with these and associated questions. Through the reading and critical examination of thinkers the module aims, first, to establish for students the idea that there is a domain of political questions which necessitate deep conceptual and in particular normative analysis, and second, aims to have students acquire the skills to critically evaluate theoretical arguments and in turn develop their own arguments in respect of theoretical political questions. With contextual and analytical engagement of thinkers, likely including but not limited to Hobbes, Wollstonecraft, Marx and Gandhi, the module equips students with the skills and aptitude to continue the study of political theory at stages 2 and 3 in all of its diverse approaches.

Module learning outcomes

  • Identify key approaches and problems in political theory and demonstrate an understanding of the history of political thought (PLO1)

  • Use critical reasoning to analyse arguments in political theory (PLO2)

  • Develop and present arguments in political theory using conceptual and normative analysis (PLO5)

  • Demonstrate intercultural awareness through identifying the differing points of view of a range of thinkers in political theory (PLO6)

Module content

The specific content may differ from year to year, depending on staff availability and expertise. But for indicative purposes a likely format may be:


Justifying the state: Hobbes


Justifying the state: Hobbes


Equality and freedom: Rousseau


Equality and freedom: Rousseau


Equality and freedom: Wollstonecraft


Freedom and self-rule: J. S. Mill


Freedom and self-rule: Gandhi


History and revolution: Marx and Engels


History and revolution: Marx


Political ethics: Weber


Assessment Guidance and Formative Feedback


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

Special assessment rules



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

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 25 working days; 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

David Boucher and Paul Kelly (eds.) Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present.

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.