PO2PHC-Political Classics

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Brian Feltham

Email: b.m.feltham@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
A survey course in the history of political thought.

To introduce students to key thinkers and traditions in the history of political thought, and the relationships between them.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module, a student should be able

  • to explain the central doctrines of selected political theorists
  • to show how those doctrines emerged from particular socio-cultural situations
  • to analyse the arguments of selected canonical texts
  • to apply the conceptual equipment acquired to the analysis of modern politics problems
  • to organise and articulate their knowledge in written form

Additional outcomes:
The module aims to develop the capacity for independent study, both individually and as part of a team; the ability to think critically about political problems and theories and to be sensitive to the complexities and ambiguities of difficult texts; the skill of presenting the findings of such study and critical thought in group and individual presentations; and to contribute to oral discussions. Students will also develop their IT skills by use of relevant web resources and by submission of some work online.

Outline content:
The following content is indicative only and may be subject to minor changes:

This module aims to give an overview of the history of Western political theory; to introduce students to some of the key concepts of political thought; to teach them to read classic texts in a critical way; and to develop the ability to reason analytically about political questions.

The lectures will provide an overview of Western political theory. The treatment of the thinkers will concentrate on problems of continuing interest (Is Might Right? How can property be justified? Are there human rights?) In each case the lectures will ask four separate questions: (i) What did the writer think about this problem? (ii) What were his reasons for thinking as he did? (iii) Do we share his reasons? (iv) If not (if we like his conclusions), can we find better reasons of our own? In seminars, students will discuss the ideas of these figures, led by student presentations addressing specific questions. Each student will allotted a single seminar presentation, to be given in either the Autumn or Spring term.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The course will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and discussion-led seminars. Each seminar will require preparatory reading from one of the classic texts to be examined. The reading will be introduced by a student presentation.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 8 8
Seminars 4 4 2
Guided independent study 87 87
Total hours by term 99.00 99.00 2.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Other information on summative assessment:
One 3,000 word essay worth 50% of the final mark

Visiting students will follow the same assessments for full credit. Those who are only studying for half credits in Autumn and/or Spring terms will submit one 3,500 word essay in total.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    3 hour examination.

    Requirements for a pass:
    40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    If a student fails to pass the year at the first attempt there is an opportunity to be re-assessed on one further occasion at the next opportunity in those modules achieving a mark of less than 40%. Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward.

    Coursework: Failed or missing coursework should be re-submitted by 1st August, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.

    Examination: Re-examination takes place in August/September of the same year.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books: No necessary purchase. Nearly all of the primary texts are available for free online. Consider:
    Boucher, D. and Kelly, P., Political Thinkers, Oxford University Press, 2009 (Second Edition), ISBN-10:0199215529, RRP: £26.99
    Wolff, J., An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2006 (Revised Edition), ISBN-10:019929609X, RRP: £24.99

    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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