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Political Philosophy


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

  • History of Philosophy


This is a political philosophy course which aims to analyze the ideas of the major classical thinkers of Western Political Philosophy in the modern era. We will reflect on the primary texts of thinkers from Machiavelli to Marx to understand and interpret the meanings of certain concepts such as authority, freedom, political obligation, power and sovereignty. We will benefit from a modest amount of secondary literature too, yet main focus will be on conceptual and textual analysis of the primary texts.

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 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, class discussions and student presentations

Assessment Method

  • Participation in the class discussions, 15%

  • Presentations, 15%

  • Two short critical reaction papers (around 500 words each), 30% (due on week 3 and 6)

  • One take-home essay (about 1500 words), 40% (due 8th week, question(s) will be provided by the instructor)

Reading list

All the readings are available online in the library.

Primary texts:

  • Machiavelli, Prince, Chapter 1-26

  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapter XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XXI, XXII

  • John Locke, Second Treatise on Government, Chapter II, III, VII, VIII, IX,X,XI,XVIIII

  • J. J. Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book 1; Book 2 Part 1,2,3,4, Book 3 Part 3,4,5,6,7,8,10,11,16, Book 4 Part 1

  • Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace

  • John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (Introduction), Utilitarianism (relevant parts)

  • K. Marx – German Ideology, Part 1


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,