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Political Philosophy


Admission requirements



This course aims to introduce students to political philosophy. It will do this by means of a series of problems and questions in the subject, which will be introduced with the help of readings from classic and contemporary texts. Its objective is to inculcate an understanding of major issues and texts, which students will be able to discuss knowledgeably and with mastery of the key conceptual vocabulary.

Course objectives

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

  • problems in conceptualising political thought and action;

  • arguments on a range of topics including political obligation and the justification of the state; freedom; rights; property; democracy; distributive justice; political morality; equality; political power; ideology; republicanism;

  • some classic texts in political philosophy and theory, including the Republic, the Politics, The Prince and Discourses, Leviathan, Two Treatises on Government, The Spirit of Laws, The Social Contract, Reflections on the Revolution in France, The Communist Manifesto, The German Ideology and Capital, On Liberty, and some twentieth-century works.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • understand major concepts and arguments used in structuring political thought;

  • interpret key texts and accurately reproduce some of the major arguments and concepts mobilised within them;

  • provide commentary, including some evaluative remarks, on the contents of these arguments and concepts;

  • relate abstract political thinking to the concrete world of political thought and action, both in their historical contexts and in contemporary settings;

  • engage in some comparative analysis of concepts and arguments as they occur in different texts and concepts, both contemporaneously and diachronically.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2014-2015, BA Wijsbegeerte (Plus-traject or Standaardtraject), tweede jaar.
See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2014-2015, minor Ethiek, politiek en cultuur: filosofie van het menselijk handelen
See Timetables Philosophy 2014-2015 , Timetable Undergraduate Courses in English

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

Course Load

To be announced.

Assessment method

  • Unseen multiple choice test (30%)

  • Unseen essay examination (70%)

One resit will be offered, covering the entire course content. Any student who did not take the first examinations (mid-term and final) cannot take the resit.


Blackboard will be used as an online discussion forum, and for posting of the course reading list, course assignments, selected readings and online links.

Reading list

Required literature will be made available on Blackboard.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the collegerooster in the column under the heading “”.

Exchange students and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs
Registration Studeren à la carte


Prof.dr. G.F. Newey