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Political Philosophy


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • second-year BA students Philosophy, enrolled in the Global and Comparative Perspectives track

  • international pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.


This course offers an introduction to contemporary political philosophy. We will discuss concepts central to thinking about important societal questions, like power, democracy, equality, freedom, oppression, and justice. This course concists of two parts. The two parts aim to cover what one could see as the two central questions in political philosophy: who get’s what, and who decides?

The first part will help students navigate contemporary debates about (distributive) theories of justice. We’ll talk about theories like utilitarianism, liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, and so on. Of course, we will also cover important topics in thinking about justice, like global justice and gender justice.

The second part of the course will look at more political questions. We’ll look at concepts like power, as well as different theories about democracy, legitimacy. Finally, we’ll talk about what happens when people break the rules the authorities made: either to protest (in cases of civil disobedience) or as crime (raising questions of punishment).

Course objectives

Students who succesfully complete this course will have a good understanding of:

  • key concepts in politics;

  • contemporary debates in political philosophy.

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • explain different ways of approaching societal questions;

  • articulate and defend their own position on complex societal issues;

  • critically (and constructively) asses the position of others

  • present their argument in writing and verbally;

  • relate theoretical debates to political practice.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures (2 hours per week)

  • Tutorials (2 hours per week)

Class attendance is required for both lectures and tutorials.

Assessment method


  • Mid-term written exam with open and multiple choice questions. 40%

  • Finanl written exam wiith open and multiple choice questions. 60%

In order to pass this course, students have to attend lectures and tutorials, as well as actively participate.


The final grade for the course is the weighed average of the midterm and final exam (see above).


The resit consists of a large exam covering the entire content of the course and the mark will replace all previously earned marks for subtests. No separate resits will be offered for subtests.

Inspection and feedback

Students will have the opportunity to inspect their exams on appointment.

Reading list

A selection of primary and secondary literature will be announced on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

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


Not applicable.