Political Philosophy - PHIL6180

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 5 30 (15) Alexandra Couto checkmark-circle


Is it right that the talented profit from their (undeserved) talents? Should the government provide compensation for people who find it hard to meet that special someone? Should we think our duties to our compatriots are more important than our duties to people in other countries?

This course is divided into two parts. The first part examines classic topics in political philosophy, such as Rawls Theory of Justice, Nozick's libertarianism and the feminist and communitarian criticism of political liberalism. The second part of the course will explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as equality, our obligations to those in the developing world, and the politics of immigration. We will consider whether we can make sense of political obligation between states as well as within states. We will look at these issues in the context of particular recent case studies.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40
Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Seminar Performance – 10%
Mid-term Essay (1,500 words) – 40%
Final Essay (2,000 words) – 50%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Goodin, R., and Pettit, P. (eds.), (1998) A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, London: Blackwell
Kymlicka, W. (2002) Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction, New York: OUP
Wolff, J. (1996). An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Oxford: OUP

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an appreciation of a number of philosophical topics such as the sources and scope of political authority, and the ideals of equality, fraternity and freedom;
2 Read analytic philosophy in a way that is considered, reflective, and imaginative;
3 Write analytic philosophy in a way that is careful, logical, structured and coherent.
4 Demonstrate understanding of issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as our obligations to those in the developing world, the role of a private sphere of action, and the politics of immigration.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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