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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Political Thinkers (PLIT08011)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course aims to introduce students to some historical writers whose thoughts on politics - international or domestic - have become recognised by theorists as canonical in the western tradition, or whose work is becomingly increasingly recognised within a broader, non-Eurocentric canon.

Lectures are structured around the varying answers to the question What is Politics? given exemplary form by the specified thinkers. Their responses are examined through the themes/problems/tensions associated with their work. So, each lecture answers the question through the themes/contrasts etc raised or addressed by the thinker(s) in question.

The content of the course is innovative in two respects: first, it conceives of political thought as a unified discipline encompassing thinking pertinent to both politics and international relations; second, along with the standard thinkers traditionally examined in such courses it introduces a number of female or non-western thinkers.

Course description Political Thinkers introduces students to the main arguments and claims made by the most influential thinkers on politics, whose thinking continues to inform current thought and practice. Through studying the writings of these important thinkers, students will consider the fundamental questions of politics, broadly conceived: how should we conceive of the proper scope of politics itself; which political institutions are justified and why; is there a duty to obey a government and its laws? Students will study the primary works of the selected thinkers, and engage with a range of debates and controversies about their arguments in the secondary literature. The course aims to provide a balance between canonical thinkers in the Western tradition and those who provide an alternative global or critical perspective on political thought.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  516
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 161 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course will be assessed by one 2000-word essay which constitutes a formative feedback event and one two-hour examination, each contributing 50% of the overall course mark.
Feedback Students will receive individual written feedback on their assessed essays. Written assignments with feedback will be returned within 15 working days of their deadlines. They will be marked according to the University┐s Common Marking Scheme. Students will receive their returned essays with a standardised marksheet that will contain marks, comments, and advice for further improvement. Students are entitled to request further feedback/clarification from the marker if they have questions about the written feedback they receive regarding coursework. Students will also receive individual written feedback on exams. This will be provided after the final marks have been agreed and approved by the relevant Exam Boards. Any student is welcome to come and speak to their class tutor and course organiser about their performance.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Familiarise themselves with some of the key claims made by historically influential thinkers and commentators.
  2. Acquire the background understanding of the development of key concepts that will enable them to contextualise their later studies in politics and international relations.
  3. Equip themselves with the skills and knowledge required for the interpretation and analysis of theoretical texts.
  4. Engage critically and reflectively with a range of theoretical debates.
  5. Develop their ability to assess a variety of perspectives and theoretical arguments.
Reading List
Political Thinkers, eds David Boucher & Paul Kelly, Oxford University Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Lectures: 18
Tutorials: 9
Discussion groups: 9
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Philip Cook
Tel: (0131 6)51 1577
Course secretaryMr Colin Arthur
Tel: (01316)51 3162
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