Modern Political Thought - POLI6230

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2023 to 2024.


This module provides an introduction to some of the major developments in Western political thought from the seventeenth century onwards by discussing the life, work and impact of key figures such as Nicolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mary Wollstonecraft, JS Mill, and Karl Marx. While these thinkers will be studied mostly in terms of their respective self-understanding, the overall concern of these studies is to examine the problems which 'modernity' poses for political theory in Western societies.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

Essay 1, 2000 words, 50%
Essay 2, 2000 words, 50%

Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

* Boucher, David and Paul Kelly (eds), Political Thinkers: From Socrates to Foucault, 2nd Edition OUP, 2009.

* Machiavelli, Niccolo, The Prince and Other Writings, London: Dent, 1981.

* McLellan, David (ed), Karl Marx: Selected Writings, 2nd ed., Oxford: OUP, 2000.

* Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, The Social Contract and Other Later Political Writings, Cambridge: CUP, 2009.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1: knowledge of key developments in the history of modern Western political thought

2: identify the main thinkers representing these developments

3: summarise the political ideas of these thinkers

4: situate these developments within the relevant historical context

5: evaluate the ethical meaning and implications of these developments

6: assess the intellectual legacy of the thinkers discussed in this module.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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