Conservatism: Politics and International Relations of the Right - PO669

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR P Cunliffe







This course is intended to familiarise students with the conservative tradition in modern politics. This is achieved by reference to a range of key conservative thinkers selected to help students understand the diversity of the conservative tradition and consider what factors help to cohere it. Comparison within the tradition and across a variety of thinkers is achieved by examining these thinkers' views on four basic categories of modern politics, namely the state, the market, society and international relations. In order to meet these broad learning outcomes, essay questions will be designed in order to ensure that students have to compare different thinkers.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

150 hours including 22 hours lecture/seminar (11 hours lectures and 11 hours seminars); 128 hours independent study.

Method of assessment

100% coursework (text reconstruction of 1500 words 30%, 3000 word essay 60%, seminar participation 10%)

Indicative reading

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944)
G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of The Philosophy of Right (1820)
Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin (2011)
Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, 1996 [1927]
Roger Scruton, Political Philosophy: An Argument for Conservatism (2003)
Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays (1962)
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1840)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:
- Demonstrate understanding and knowledge of conservative views on the state, the market, society and international relations.
- Demonstrate first-hand knowledge of some of the key writings of major conservative thinkers.
- Understand aspects of coherence and diversity within the conservative political tradition.
- Demonstrate familiarity with major debates within the conservative political tradition.
- Understand the political, historical, and social context within which conservative thinkers have developed their theories and ideas.
- Demonstrate understanding of some of the major criticisms of conservative politics.
- Demonstrate an ability to analyse, make use of and criticise the secondary literature on conservative thinkers and their ideas.

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.