Introduction to political philosophy

Course Dates: 18/09/23 - 11/12/23
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Keeley Street
What are the ends and means of politics? Interweaving modern history and politics with key philosophical texts, study and debate the ideas, ideologies and concepts underpinning our thinking about the organisation of society.
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Full fee £199.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £129.00

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Introduction to political philosophy
This course has started
  • Course Code: HP110
  • Dates: 18/09/23 - 11/12/23
  • Time: 18:00 - 19:30
  • Taught: Mon, Evening
  • Duration: 12 sessions (over 13 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Christopher Horner

Course Code: HP110

Started Mon, eve, 18 Sep - 11 Dec '23

Duration: 12 sessions (over 13 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This course looks at the founding concepts and theories of modern political philosophy. After an overview on the context inherited by early modern political thought, we turn to key texts by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, and chart the emergence of modern ideas about liberty, equality, democracy, sovereignty and the State. We look at the impact of the English Civil War, colonial expansion and the French Revolution on political philosophy and examine the rise of utilitarianism and the new discourse of political economy in the 18th and 19th centuries. We assess the impact of Marx and conclude with a look at the philosophical conflicts at work in the upheaval of the 20th century.

What will we cover?

Topics to be discussed may include: natural law and natural right; liberty and equality; sovereignty and
commonwealth; human nature; land and property; the social contract and the general will; contrasting conceptions of freedom, utilitarianism and political economy; the Marxist critique of political economy; communism and fascism.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Demonstrate understanding of the main historical developments in modern political philosophy
- Use and explain key concepts and theories in political philosophy, such as right, liberty, equality and sovereignty.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is suitable for those who have followed an introductory course, but those new to philosophy will also be welcome. Also an enthusiasm for learning as well as an open and critical mind and a willingness to listen to and think about views with which you may not always agree will enhance your enjoyment and benefit from this course. On joining this course you should be able to read and comment upon extracts from a philosophical text. You should be prepared to discuss this reading in class.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Tutor presentations and seminar discussions. Suggestions for weekly reading will be provided but this work will not be compulsory.

Suggested introductory texts:

Political Thought, Eds. Rosen M and Wolff, J OUP, 19999

An Introduction to Political philosophy, J Wolff, OUP 2006

Politics and Vision Sheldon S Wolin Princeton, 2004.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No, although please bring whatever you need to make notes.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You may be interested in joining Modern political philosophy: ideas and ideologies in the 21st century, starting in January (course code HP030).
For other philosophy courses on offer, please check our website at

Christopher Horner

Chris teaches, studies and writes about philosophy and many other things. He has taught adult learners for many years and is committed to the view that the subject should be taught in a lively way that stimulates and empowers students, and that relates both to history, culture and society more widely. Most importantly, students should begin to see how philosophy relates to them, and that it is something they can engage in with confidence and success. He has studied at the University of Sheffield, University of East Anglia, Goldsmiths and Roehampton Universites and has a PhD, the subject of which was Hannah Arendt and Kant’s Theory of Reflective Judgment. He is the co-uthor of the Cambridge University Press Book ‘Thinking Through Philosophy’, and has published numerous articles, mainly on philosophical issues. He has a strong interest in politics, history, literature, the visual arts and music and is a keen landscape photographer.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.