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PPR.321: Reading Political Theory

Tutor: Chris Macleod
Term: Michaelmas

Course Description

This module gives students the opportunity to read and study the thought of two of the seminal thinkers in political theory. This module is, therefore, an opportunity to explore the texts slowly, methodically and in depth. It is also an opportunity to link that thought to the wider literature that has developed as a response to the thinkers' ideas. In so doing we develop a more thorough understanding of the ideas of the thinker in question, and see how those ideas link-up into a wider systematic and philosophic whole.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • A knowledge and understanding of the thinkers under review.
  • An understanding and appreciation of the contribution to wider debates generated by those thinkers.
  • An appreciation of the benefits of a close and deep reading of a thinker.
  • The ability to explain, discuss and reflect on the themes raised by the thinkers.


40% coursework and 60% exam.
Coursework: 1 essay of 3000 words. Exam: 2 hours.

Teaching Method

Lecture (1.5 hours) and seminar (1 hour) weekly.

Introductory Reading

Grant, R 'Political Theory, Political Science, and Politics', Political Studies, 2002, 30:4, 577-595

Oakeshott, M 'What is Political Theory?' in What is History? And Other Essays, 2004

Skinner, Q''Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas', History & Theory 1969, 8:1, 3-53.

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