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

Undergraduate Course: Core Texts in Political Theory (PLIT10059)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will examine the core texts from one political thinker for a full semester in order to provide a deep and detailed engagement with their thought. The thinker studied will vary from year-to-year. Thinkers selected will have made a profound contribution to political thinking and so students will have the opportunity to explore a significant body of thought through a sustained engagement with the primary texts from the selected thinker. The course will cover relevant historical and textual questions, but will focus on the arguments and concepts developed in the texts that have proved of enduring importance. This will help students develop skills of close textual reading, the ability to interrogate complex and extended arguments that are developed over the course multiple works, and provide the opportunity to reflect on the enduring legacies of major figures in political thought.
Course description This course examines the core texts from one political thinker for a full semester in order to provide a deep and detailed engagement with their thought. This year we are studying a political thinker who theorised the foundations of contemporary progressive politics: the American feminist philosopher Iris Marion Young. The module approaches core ideas in social justice developed by Young: structural injustice, oppression, gender relations, affirmative action, and historic injustice. A distinctive feature of the module is that by deeply engaging with Young's outstandingly rich work, students will also discover the ideas of those who inspired her, such as Hannah Arendt and Simone Weil. Furthermore, students will have the opportunity to pursue Young's influential ideas (and their limitations) in the works of Angela Davis, Patricia Hill Collins, and Katherine Lu.

The key texts of our seminars will be Young's Justice and the Politics of Difference (1990), which we will read in the first half of the term, and Responsibility for Justice (2011) in the second half. In 5 of the 10 weeks we will also read short texts by Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil, Angela Davis, Patricia Hill Collins, and Katherine Lu.

The course is taught though a series of weekly seminars. There will be two readings per week, either two chapters by Young (5 weeks) or one chapter by Young and one chapter from another author (5 weeks). The course encourages students to develop the key skill of facilitation. After the first week, led by the course convenor, students will take turns acting as facilitators each week, preparing key ideas, questions and activities for the session and keeping the discussion moving forward. The most thorough and thought-provoking session led by students will be acknowledged through a prize, and each student will receive feedback on their facilitation skills at the end of the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have not taken Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World (PLIT08012), but have taken a similar course, should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses, one of which is security themed, at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Present written and verbal analysis of arguments from the primary texts in a clear, logical, and lucid form
  2. Identify accurately the main areas of dispute in debates on the selected thinker's writings
  3. Develop critical evaluations of arguments regarding the selected thinker's writings examined in the course
  4. Apply relevant theoretical positions from the primary and secondary texts studied to salient examples of politics and international relations
  5. Reflect critically and independently on the salience and relevance of the thinker's arguments for contemporary debates in politics and international relations.
Reading List
Since this is a course in reading core texts, the indicative readings consist of those core texts.

Examples of thinkers and their works studied on this course may include:

Habermas, Jürgen, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (Polity, 1990)

Hobbes, Thomas, Leviathan, ed. Christopher Brooke (Penguin 2016)

Habermas, Jürgen, Between Facts and Norms, (Polity, 1997)

Locke, John, Second Treatise of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration,(OUP, 2016)

Rawls, John, A Theory of Justice, rev. ed .(Harvard, 1999)

Rawls, John, Political Liberalism, (Columbia University Press, 2005)

Young, Iris, Justice and the Politics of Difference, (Princeton University Press, 1990)

Young, Iris, Responsibility for Justice, (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical thinking and analysis
Team work
Effective written and verbal communication
Effective research and analytical skills
Facilitation skills

Keywordscore texts,politics,political thinkers
Course organiserDr Diana Popescu
Course secretaryMr Ian McClory
Tel: (0131 6)50 3932
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