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Political Philosophy from Machiavelli to Marx


Admission requirements


  • History of Philosophy


In this course students are introduced to some of the classic works in the canon of western political philosophy. On the basis of selections of the primary texts from Machiavelli to Marx, supported by a modest amount of secondary literature, we survey some of the justifications of political institutions in the western tradition, as well as important contributions to the analysis of political concepts such as freedom, property, toleration, and justice. During the seminars, emphasis will be placed on conceptual analysis and the interpretation of texts, skills that will be of particular use to students interested in pursuing the minor ‘Philosophy' and those enrolled in the Majors ‘World Politics’ and ‘Human Diversity’.

Course Objectives

  • To explain and appraise the arguments of political philosophers from Machiavelli to Marx.

  • To compare and evaluate different interpretations of the texts studied.

  • To critically read, analyse, and interpret difficult texts in the history of political philosophy.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This is not a lecture-based course and the majority of instruction will be in the form of seminar discussion. This means it is imperative that students prepare for the classes by carefully studying the required readings – this is reflected in the course assessment criteria.

Assessment Method

Your work for this course will be assessed as follows:

  • Class participation – 15%

  • Presentation –15%

  • Take-home midterm exam – 30%

  • Essay – 40%

Reading list

Readings will be made available to students.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Alexandra Chadwick