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Thinking about Politics: Power & Sovereignty


Admission requirements

None, although successful completion of at least one of the compulsory 100-level World Politics courses is strongly recommended.


In the pursuit of explanation and understanding, the student of world politics can draw on the rich resources of political theory. Political theory contributes to the analysis of concepts such as freedom, equality and democracy, and seeks to systematise and justify normative judgements about political and social institutions, forms of inequality, authority and oppression. This course forms an advanced introduction to this body of thought. Major intellectual traditions within political theory are surveyed and applied to perennial debates about the nature and evaluation of power and sovereignty.

Credited as a methodology course in the ‘World Politics’ major, this course has several, interrelated aims: to foster appreciation of the variety of ways in which one can think about politics; the development of an awareness of how these intellectual traditions have shaped debates in relevant adjacent disciplines in the humanities and social sciences; the further development of critical thinking skills; the further development of knowledge and understanding of the nature and evaluation of power and sovereignty.

Course Objectives

After successful completion of the course students are able to:

  • describe the main characteristics of prominent intellectual traditions in political theory

  • critically engage with these traditions by comparing and contrasting them

  • recognise and apply the foundational principles and commitments of these traditions to issues relating to the nature of power and sovereignty

  • reflect on how these traditions are used in adjacent disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.


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

Mode of instruction

Interactive seminars.

Assessment Method

  • Participation: 15%

  • Presentation: 15%

  • Short written assignments (weeks 3 and 6): 30%

  • Final essay (due week 8): 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,