nl en

Core Concepts in Political Philosophy


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Moral Political Philosophy

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Law, Government, and Politics


This year’s edition of Core Concepts in Political Philosophy focuses on the concept of ‘representation’. The concept of representation plays a central role in various debates in political philosophy, including (among others) democratic theory, theories of revolution and political change, and theories of race and gender. What is it to ‘represent’ someone or something? How to assess claims to the effect that “they do not represent us”? How does one become a representative? Is ‘representative democracy’ a contradiction in terms, or a tautology (or neither)? How does political representation relate to other forms of representation?

In grappling with these questions we will attend to the multiple meanings of this term and its various deployments in some of these debates. To do so, we will engage with some of the classical texts on the topic (by authors such as Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Hanna Pitkin), and some recent debates in contemporary political theory.

Course objectives

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

  • several key historical and contemporary philosophical debates around the notion of ‘representation’ in politics;

  • the relevance of such philosophical debates for contemporary politics.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • interpret and critically discuss philosophical literature about representation;

  • write research papers that make a critical or interpretative contribution to those debates.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Participation and weekly discussion notes (graded pass/not pass; a pass is required to complete the course)

  • Midterm paper (40%)

  • Final paper (60%)


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


The resit consists of one examination for all parts at once, consisting of a paper. The grade will replace previously earned grades for subtests.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

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

This year’s reading list will be made available throught Brightspace at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.