This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
The number of participants is limited to 24.
Please note that passing a Thematic Seminar (10 EC) in the second year, second semester, is an entry requirement for starting your thesis in academic year 2022-2023. You need to have passed a minimum of 100 EC of year 1 and 2 of the International Studies programme as well in order to start your thesis.
What is the basis of political power? When is the exercise of power legitimate? What happens when power exceeds the boundaries of its legitimacy? And when is resistance to political authority justified? Is it right to overthrow a tyrant? These questions have been at the heart of political thought from antiquity to the present. In this course, we will examine them through discussion of classical and contemporary philosophical texts from a variety of traditions.
The readings will serve as a basis for an examination of different contemporary models of political authority and contemporary modes of resistance. Is a limitation of individual freedoms, including the right to dissent, justified by the need to maintain social order and promote prosperity – as the Chinese Communist Party and government claim? Is civil disobedience – or even violent resistance – justified when the future of the planet is at stake? Is it possible to form an effective movement for political change in times of globalization, media disinformation and entrenched inequality? What are the dynamics of social and political revolutions?
The Thematic Seminars for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the multidisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.
Academic skills that are trained include:
Oral and written presentation skills:
1. To explain clear and substantiated research results.
2. To provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course:
in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
using up-to-date presentation techniques;
using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
aimed at a specific audience.
3. To actively participate in a discussion
1. To provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position.
2. To adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.
Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. To collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques.
2. To analyse and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability.
3. To formulate on this basis a sound research question.
4. To design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved.
5. To formulate a substantiated conclusion.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the Midterm Exam week. This includes supervised research.
Assessment and Weighing
|Participation and weekly reading questions
|Final Research Essay - 5,000 words (between 4,500 and 5,500)
To successfully complete the course, please take note that the End Grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components.
Students who score an overall insufficient grade for the course, are allowed resubmit a reworked version of the Final Essay. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the Final Research Essay and subsequent feedback.
In case of resubmission of the Final Research Essay the final grade for the Essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Students who fail to hand in their final essay on or before the original deadline, but still within 5 working days of that deadline, will receive a grade and feedback on their essay. This will be considered a first submission of the final essay, however, the grade will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Students who fail to hand in their final essay on or before the original deadline, and also fail to hand in their essay within 5 working days of that deadline, get 10 working days, counting from the original deadline, to hand in the first version of their final essay. However, this first version counts as a resubmitted essay with consequential lowering of the grade, and there will be no option of handing in a reworked version based on feedback from the lecturer.
Retaking a passing grade
Retaking a passing grade is not possible for this course.
Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2021 – 2022.
Exam review 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 organised.
Readings may be subject to change.
Plato, The Republic
Han Fei, Han Feizi
Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals
G.W.F. Hegel, ‘Lordship and Bondage’
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, ‘The Communist Manifesto’
V.I. Lenin, ‘The State and Revolution’
Mahatma Gandhi, Selected Political Writings
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
Martin Luther King, ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’
Malcolm X, ‘The Ballot or the Bullet’
Michel Foucault, ‘The Subject and Power’
Arundhati Roy, ‘Power Politics’
Robin Celikates, ‘Rethinking Civil Disobedience as a Practice of Contestation: Beyond the Liberal Paradigm’
Additionally, the students will work through:
W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, fourth edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2016, or;
W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 17 December 2021:
- On 17 December 2021 you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
- Indicate there which are your 5 preferred Thematic Seminars, in order of preference.
- Based on preferences indicated by 3 January 2022 the course Coordinator will assign you to one specific Thematic Seminar by 24 January 2022.
- Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
Students cannot register in uSis for the Thematic Seminar courses, or be allowed into a Thematic Seminar course in any other way.
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies
The deadline for submission of the Final Essay is Friday 10 June 2022.