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Political Philosophy


Admission requirements



This is an introductory course on political philosophy. As such it addresses some of the core concepts involved in thinking and acting politically, such as democracy, justice, freedom, rights, property, power and the state. Some of the material will be introduced via readings of canonical thinkers. Students will be encouraged to think analytically about the material, to evaluate different interpretations of core concepts, and to consider their application to concrete contexts of political action in the modern world, which may include reflection on such topics as global justice, the justification of punishment, the scope of political participation, the problem of dirty hands, human rights, toleration, security and counter-terrorism, justice in war and the relation between the state and religion.

Course objectives

The course aims to give students a basic grounding in contemporary political philosophy, together with some conversance with historical readings in the subject. It will inculcate an understanding of some fundamental concepts in political philosophy and some of the critical problems that they raise in theory, as well as in political practice. It is intended that by the end of the course students should be able to discuss questions of understanding and application knowledgeably, with relevant authorities and with a grasp of the complex relation between theory and practice.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2015-2016, BA Wijsbegeerte (Standaardtraject), tweede jaar.
See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2015-2016, minor Ethiek, politiek en cultuur: filosofie van het menselijk handelen

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

Course Load

Total course load (5 EC x 28 hrs): 140 hours

  • Attending classes: 14 × 2 hours = 28 hours

  • Assessment (midterm and final): 6 hours

  • Reading: 66 hours

  • Exam preparation: 40 hours

Assessment method

  • Midterm (written) exam (50%)

  • Final (written) exam (50%)


One resit will be offered, covering the entire course content, and consisting of a written exam. 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.


Blackboard will be used to post obligatory readings as well as optional readings, pod-casts and the like. It will also be used to communicate changes in our schedule and/or in reading material, so check it regularly.

Reading list

  • Catriona McKinnon, Issues in Political Theory, preferably 3rd edn. (Oxford: OUP).

  • Further literature will be published on Blackboard.


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


T. Meijers MSc MA