Political Theory

This course provides an introduction to some of the seminal ideas and texts of political theory. The course will be conducted from a chronological perspective, examining original texts ranging from ancient Greece to those of modern liberal democracies. However, the course will start with a session dedicated to the future developments and the importance of political.

First and foremost the course will provide students with an overview of some of the main traditions in political theory/philosophy. In addition, the course will focus on how an understanding of political theory is vital to comprehending the functioning of government, public policy and society as a whole.

More narrowly, the course will focus on one central question, which has been discussed by political thinkers from the time of Plato: What is a good society and how is it achieved? This question, in turn, implies another: What roles should the rulers and the people play in constituting a good society? One of the central aims of the course, therefore, is to clarify the roles of ruler and ruled in forming a good society.

The course also aims to encourage a more self-conscious and systematic expression of a student's own political thinking. Throughout the course students will be expected to consider questions such as: What makes power legitimate? What is the basis for a state's authority and how far should this extend? What are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of different political regimes?