How to Start a Revolution: Ideas and Practices of Political Resistance - PO682

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR S Rossbach




This module is limited to 25 students, restricted to stage 3 students only and cannot be taken by short term students.



The module provides an overview of some of the core arguments and issues that arise within the context of debates on political resistance: moral justifications of resistance to political authority, the techniques of resistance employed in historical examples, the presuppositions underpinning these techniques, the tensions and difficulties that typically arise in any act of resistance. Starting with Socrates, sent to the Athenians to act as a 'gadfly', the module will look at selected historical examples of resistance, identify and analyse aims and methods, and review and discuss outcomes and consequences.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

The module will be taught by lectures, seminars and private study.
Total Contact Hours: 22
Private Study Hours: 128


Spring Term

Method of assessment

100% Coursework
Either Track 1:
Essay 1 (Outline): Max.1000 Words, (20%)
Essay 2: Max. 4000 Words (80%)
Or Track 2:
Essay 1 (Outline): Max. 1000 Words (20%)
Documented Practice of Resistance: recorded performative element (either photography, film, or audio recording) and accompanying Written Component, Max. 2,500 words (80%)

Indicative reading

Atack, I. (2012) Nonviolence in Political Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Burgos, A. (2016) Political Philosophy and Political Action: Imperatives of Resistance. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
Havel, V. et al. (1985) The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central Eastern Europe. Abingdon: Routledge.
Lang, A.S. & Lang, D. (eds) (2012) Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement. Oxford: New Internationalist Publications.
Plato (2003) 'Apology', in Plato, The Last Days of Socrates. London: Penguin.
Roberts, A. & Garton Ash, T. (2011) Civil Resistance & Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will:
Be able to identify, summarise and critically analyse historically relevant and commonly used justifications for offering resistance to political authority
Be able to critically analyse concrete examples of resistance (historical or current) offered to political authority in terms of underlying ideas and aims, methods used, and outcomes achieved
Be able to identify, describe and critically analyse commonly used methods of political resistance in terms of their moral justification, effectiveness and lasting impact,
Be familiar with, and be able to analyse and review, the moral and political discourse on the role of violence in political resistance,
Be able to conceptualise and analyse the complex relationship between political ideas and political practice within the context of resistance.

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Independently undertake critical analysis of complex areas of knowledge and make carefully constructed and supported arguments,
Work with a range of primary and secondary sources, and make critical judgements concerning their accuracy and usefulness within the given field of study,
Be reflective and self-critical in their work
Communicate ideas effectively and fluently in writing
Use the internet, bibliographic search engines, online resources, and effectively conduct research, drawing on both primary (in translation) and secondary sources

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