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History of Political Philosophy


Admission requirements

No prerequisites.


This course offers an introduction to the history of (modern) political thought. We will discuss texts from some of the most influential political theorists, beginning with the social contract tradition. We will study central problems and concepts in political philosophy, such as the state, sovereignty, freedom, equality, political legitimacy, obligation, etc. Texts that we will study include (selections from) Hobbes’s Leviathan, Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, Rousseau’s On the Social Contract, Wollstonecraft’s TheVindication of the Rights of Woman, and The Communist Manifesto by Marx & Engels.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide an introduction to the work of some of the most important theorists in modern political thought (e.g. Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Marx & Engels).

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • central problems and concepts in the history of modern political thought, such as the state, sovereignty, freedom, equality, political legitimacy, obligation, etc.;

  • selections of primary texts (e.g. Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Mill) and some secondary literature.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • read and obtain a basic grasp of primary texts in the history of political philosophy;

  • answer short questions on individual primary and secondary texts;

  • answer longer comparative questions;

  • answer longer questions of a textual/interpretative nature.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Written mid-term exam (40%)

  • Written final exam (60%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of the two subtests (see above).


The resit consists of one written examination for all parts at once (100%). No separate resits will be offered for subtests. The resit covers the entire course content and the mark will replace all previously earned marks for subtests.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Required texts and recommended editions:

  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan. Preferred edition: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

  • John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, Cambridge University Press, 1988.

  • Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, “On the Social Contract.” The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Trans. John T. Scott. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2012.

  • Tucker (ed.), The Marx-Engels Reader, second edition. Norton, 1978.

  • Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Men and a Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Hints, Cambridge University Press, 1995.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Dr. S. Amighetti


Not applicable.