Faculty of Arts

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedClayton First semester 2014 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Michael Janover; Dr Paul Muldoon


This unit surveys a broad spectrum of political thinkers and explores their ideas and the historical contexts in which these ideas emerge. It aims to give students an understanding of key concepts and arguments in political philosophy concerning order and disorder, power and authority, tradition and change. The thinkers studied, Socrates, Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Burke, and Marx, are discussed with reference to both the contexts in which they lived and the significance of their ideas both within and beyond those contexts. Learning activities will include lectures, large and small group discussions, short (500 word) and longer (2000 word) written exercises.


Upon successful completion of this unit students should be able to:

  1. Describe and compare ideas from different strands of political thought.
  2. Recognise and evaluate the role of cultural and social contexts in the formulation of political ideas.
  3. Critically discuss political theories concerning nature and reason, power and morality, tradition and revolution.
  4. Effectively research the signification and significance of terms, ideas and arguments in political theory.
  5. Communicate perceptively the key ideas, arguments and contexts of political theories.
  6. Explain explicit or implicit ethical values and assumption/s in various political theories.


Tutorial work: 10%
Researching a theme - short written assignment. Students research and interpret meaning/s of a text, figure or event from a distributed list: 10%
Essay (2,000 words): 40%
Examination: 40%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

2 hours contact per week (one 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial) + 10 hours independent study weekly, comprising text reading, internet searches, liaison with tutorial group members, review of lecture and tutorial notes.

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Must have completed 12 credit points of Politics units.