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Admission requirements

  • BA students in Philosophy: propedeuse degree has been obtained as well as the second-year course Political Philosophy.

  • BA students from other departments (including contractstudenten): propedeuse degree has been obtained, and additionally the following philosophy courses are required: Political Philosophy


This course deals with the idea of utopia, mainly though not exclusively in political philosophy and political theory. It will examine the numerous utopias that have been produced by philosophers and thinkers such as Plato, More, Campanella, Bacon, and nineteenth century utopian socialists. It will also examine dystopias and ask whether, and if so why, dystopian thinking has become more prevalent and utopianism less so. Philosophical thinking about utopia will be examined, as well as the imagined worlds of utopian and dystopian thought.

Course objectives

This course aims to inculcate a familiarity with and understanding of the idea of utopia, as it has been articulated by philosophers and other thinkers from classical times to early modernity and beyond. It aims to give students a working knowledge of core texts of utopian thought, and to equip them to understand what makes a theory ‘utopian’, as well as an understanding of dystopias and their relation to utopian ideals.

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

  • the idea of utopia and of dystopia;

  • the relation between utopian, sub-ideal and realist accounts of politics, political power and human nature.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • discuss knowledgeably key texts in the history of utopian thought, as well as dystopian texts and the relation between these texts and others in the western canon;

  • relate issues raised by utopian thinking to matters of common concern in actual political life as well as in non-utopian political philosophy.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2015-2016, BA Wijsbegeerte (BA Plus-traject of Standaardtraject), derde jaar.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load (10 EC x 28 hrs): 280 hours

  • Attending lectures and seminars: 14 × 3 = 42 hours

  • Final exam: 3 hours

  • Preparation classes and studying literature: 14 × 10 = 140 hours

  • Preparation mid-term essay: 40 hours

  • Preparation of class presentation: 15 hours

  • Preparation of final exam: 40 hours

Assessment method

  • Mid-term essay: 40%

  • Presentation in class:10%

  • Final (written) exam: 50%


One resit will be offered, covering the entire course content. an consisting of a written exam and an essay The grade will replace previously earned grades for subtests. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.
Completion of practical assignments (presentation) is a mandatory requirement for taking the tests.


Blackboard will be used for advertising readings, notifying students of any scheduling changes, exchanging information and readings, including links, uploading other relevant material.

Reading list

  • Taylor & Goodwin, The Politics of Utopia: A Study in Theory and Practice (Peter Lang 2009).


Please register for this course via Study administration system uSis
See also Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable 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: not applicable.


Prof. dr. G.F. Newey