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PI8007 Political Philosophy

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Lecturer: Dr Brian Carey
  • Contact Hours: 22 hours of lectures
  • Semester: 2

Module Outline

Political philosophy is sometimes criticized on the basis that it is too abstract, that it misrepresents real people and real political institutions, and that it fails to provide action-guiding recommendations that can be applied to the world in which we live. In this module, students will explore and critically examine some of the ways that political theorists have responded (or failed to respond) to these challenges. We will begin by considering recent debates in the methodology of political philosophy, before considering ways in which a philosopher may themselves be affected by bias or prejudice. The remainder of this module focuses on some of those subjects who have often been ignored or under-examined by political theorists in the past, including children, people of colour, people with disabilities, and migrants.

Learning Aims

  • To encourage students to critically engage with contemporary philosophical debates concerning members of marginalised communities.
  • To demonstrate and help students to develop the skills necessary to assess and critique arguments in contemporary political philosophy.
  • To encourage students to consider and critique methodology in contemporary political philosophy.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this component students will be able to:

  • Explain several important challenges that political theorists must face if we aim to produce action-guiding recommendations for the real world.
  • Understand the key ideas and concepts used by theorists who focus on some of the lesser-studied subjects in political theory.
  • Develop the oral and written skills necessary to analyse philosophical arguments and to present their own philosophical ideas in a clear, coherent, and compelling fashion.

Recommended Reading List:

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.


PhD students will be required to write one substantial essay (3,000-4,000 words). Students should confirm the essay title with their lecturer.

The word count includes footnotes but it does not include the bibliography.

Essays that go over the limit will be liable for a 5 mark deduction.

There will be a 5 mark deduction for each week an essay is late. Students may request an extension by contacting the lecturer of their module.

Students must attach a cover sheet to all Philosophy essays.