Modern Political Thought

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School of Politics and International Relations

Modern Political Thought II POL206 2012-13

Module Convenor: Dr Madeleine Davis Email: m.j.davis@qmul.ac.uk Office hours: Semester 1 Thursday 2-3pm, Friday 11-12am, Semester 2 Thursday 23pm, Friday 1-2pm. Office location: Arts One, Room 2.28b Timetable: Lectures: Thursdays at 10 am Seminars: Thursdays (see QM+ and School notice board for details)

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1. Welcome from the convenor This module handbook provides you with essential information. The handbook details the topics covered each week. You should use the reading lists provided to help you prepare for lectures and seminars. You should read the handbook carefully before you begin the module, and you should bring it with you every week to lectures and seminars. The first few pages give you some general information and advice on how the module will be taught and assessed, as well as guidelines on preparing and presenting your work. The rest of the handbook is a guide to module content, including a week by week guide to lecture and seminar themes, with essential and additional readings clearly indicated for each topic. Copies of this module outline and other handouts are available from the folders on the wall outside the School Office on the second floor of the Arts Building. The module outline for the spring semester will be available at the end of the autumn semester. Announcements relating to the module will be distributed via email to your QM email account or via QM+, and it is your responsibility if you miss any of these announcements. There will be a weekly lecture for the module at 10 am on Thursdays. Seminars also take place on Thursday and you will be assigned to one of these.

2. Module description This second year core module is compulsory for all Politics and Politics/History students, because we think an understanding of the history, structures and main concepts of political thinking is necessary for appreciating the institutions and arguments of modern political life, as you will study it in other modules. The skills you learn in dealing with more abstract and normative ideas, as well as in evaluating rational arguments, are also essential for studying all parts of the discipline. The module builds on the analysis of concepts and ideologies begun in POL100 Introduction to Politics, but it also offers an opportunity to read some of the classic texts, and to explore some of the founding ideas, of modern political theory. By studying the foundations and development of political thought, we can understand how contemporary ways of thinking about politics and the political emerged, as well as appreciating the historical and theoretical contexts in which they evolved. The emphasis in the module will be on a critical reading and analysis of primary texts. Part I of the course (MPT I) focused on the development of political thought prior to the French Revolution, emphasising in particular the social contract tradition; foundational ideas about rational individualism; the quest for a theory of political obligation which would grant legitimacy to the emerging modern state; the development of radical theories of democratic participation and popular sovereignty; and the critique of many of these developments in modern conservatism. It also raised questions about how we think of the political, by comparing the social contract tradition with that of Machiavelli and by considering politics in the context of the development of modernity. Concepts like consent, freedom, equality, rights and property were prominent. In Part II of the course, we will be considering the way in which political thought developed in the wake of the French and industrial revolutions. We will begin by focusing upon the continued rise of liberalism and secularism in the 18th and 19th centuries in the work of Jeremy 2

Bentham, John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant. These figures represent the continued elaboration and sophistication of the modern...
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