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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Postgraduate Course: Freedom and the State: The Social Contract MSc (PHIL11170)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis module looks at some classic theories of the state and of political obligation, such as those of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant and Rawls, and asks you to decide whether you accept their answers to questions of this kind, or whether you can find better ones.
Course description Why do we have a government? What is it for? Is it just that, human beings being what they are, they have to have someone to keep them in order? Or is there some other reason, some better reason? People talk a lot about political freedom. But is there really any such thing as a free society? Doesn't the very existence of governments and laws mean it's impossible for us to live together and be free at the same time? Why should we obey the law? Is it just because we'll be punished if we don't, or is there a better reason? Does it make a difference who made the law?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 3000 word essay (100%).

Word limit: 2700 minimum / 3300 words maximum (excluding references).
Feedback Students have the opportunity to submit a formative essay. The essay cannot be draft of the summative essay but it can be on the same topic.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate core skills in philosophy, including interpreting and critically engaging with philosophical texts, evaluating arguments and theories, and developing one's own ideas in response to the issues discussed.
  2. acquire knowledge of the main interpretations of Social Contract Theory
  3. analyse the strengths and weakness of social contract theory
  4. acquire a sense of the history of social contract theory
Reading List
Primary sources

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and The Social Contract
Immanuel Kant, Political Writings (selected writings, CUP)
John Rawls, Theory of Justice
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical thinking, interpretation, argumentation.
KeywordsSocial Contract,State,Political Philosophy,History of Political Thought
Course organiserDr Anna Ortin Nadal
Course secretaryMs Becky Verdon
Tel: (0131 6)50 3860
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