POL205 Political Ideas (8)

In this subject, students are introduced to political philosophy: the study of politics from the perspective of philosophy. Political philosophy involves ethical or "normative" analysis of political structures. Students will think about what sorts of political institutions we "ought" to have, focusing on arguments drawn from a range of influential thinkers from ancient Greece to 19th century Europe. These disparate visions of the "just society" will each be examined with reference to their contribution to the modern political world and the cultural context in which they were conceived.

No offerings have been identified for this subject in 2019.

Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of, and employ, the key concepts of political philosophy
  • be able to demonstrate a familiarity with the underlying themes and issues that fuel contemporary political discourse
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of how historical, sociological and economic facts influence the development of political ideas and institutions
  • be able to trace the expansion of political concepts, as they have developed over the centuries, locating the peculiar and contested origins of ideas we often take for granted
  • have developed their skills in formulating and communicating ethical arguments


This subject will cover the following topics:

- The classical tradition: Plato, Aristotle, Stoics, Cicero - Medieval faith: Augustine, Ockham, Aquinas - Renaissance: Marsilio, Machiavelli - Reformation: Luther, Calvin, post and counter Reformations - English Civil War and Revolution: Harrington, Levellers, Hobbes, Locke - Enlightenment: Montesquieu, Voltaire, Encyclopaedia, Hume, Rousseau - Liberalism: French and English utilitarianism, J.S. Mill - Socialism: Comte, Marx


For further information about courses and subjects outlined in the CSU handbook please contact:

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The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2019. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.