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Level 4

4AANB006 Political Philosophy I


Credit value: 15
Module TutorDr Sarah Fine


  • Summative assessment: one two-hour exam (100%)
  • Formative assessment: one 1,500-word essay


  • Summative assessment: one two-hour exam (100%)
  • Formative assessment: one 1,500-word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: one two-hour weekly lecture and one one-hour weekly seminar over ten weeks.

This module introduces students to some of the central concepts, questions, approaches, and debates in political philosophy. Under which conditions, if any, should we submit to political authority? What, if anything, makes the exercise of coercive power legitimate? What is the value of democracy? What is the value of equality? What kind of liberty should a just society aim to protect The module is designed complement (and lay the groundwork for) the Level 5 and Level 6 political philosophy modules.  

Further information

Module Aims
Learning Outcomes
Past Syllabi
Core Reading

Module aims

  • To introduce students to political philosophy.  
  • To engage with some of the enduring questions and controversies in political philosophy.
  • To consider why these questions continue to occupy political philosophers.
  • To read texts carefully, closely, and critically.
  • Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practical skills appropriate to a Level 4 module and in particular will be able to demonstrate:

  • A good understanding of some central debates in political philosophy.
  • The ability to engage critically with the relevant literature.
  • The ability to develop and defend arguments of their own.

Past syllabi

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.

Core reading

Introductory Texts (not compulsory):

  •  Adam Swift (2013) Political Philosophy: A Beginner's Guide for Students and Politicians 3rd revised edition (Cambridge: Polity).
  • Jonathan Wolff (2015) An Introduction to Political Philosophy Third edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press).


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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