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Political Philosophy (with tutorialsl)


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to second-year students enrolled in the BA Plus-traject of the full time BA programme in Philosophy.


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 (BA Plus-traject), tweede jaar.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures (2 hours per week)

  • Tutorials (2 hours per week)

Class attendance is required for both lectures and tutorials.

Course Load

Total course load (5 EC x 28 hrs): 140 hours
Attending lectures: 14 × 2 = 28 hours
Attending tutorials: 14 × 2 = 28 hours
Preparation: 12 × 4,5 = 54 hours
Preparation mid-term assessment: 10 hours
Preparation of final exam: 20 hours

Assessment method

  • Mid-term assessed essay (50 %)

  • Final examination (50 %)


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


Readings, links and other materials of relevance to the course will be uploaded to Blackboard as the course progresses. These may include academic articles or book chapters as well as exercises or sound and video extracts.

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 “”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof. dr. G.F. Newey