MA Political Science - Philosophy and Political Theory
Year of entry: 2024
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Course unit details:
Political Theory Research Training Seminar
|Unit level||FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Offered by||School of Social Sciences|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
Analytical political theory is a fundamentally dialectic, dialogical discipline: the best way of putting an argument to the test is to see whether it can survive the critical scrutiny of other theoretically trained scholars and students. Our conviction is that this is one of the fundamental skills that post-graduate students in political theory must learn in depth: figuring out how to play the dialectical game at both ends – namely by learning, on the one hand, what is a good, helpful, fair way of probing someone else’s argument; and, on the other, how to revise one’s views, their presentation, or both on the basis of powerful challenges.
The course unit aims to:
- Introduce students to the most important methodological disputes in analytical political theory and understand them
- Introduce students to a range of methodologies employed in analytical political theory and understand them.
- Help students adjudicate among these methods, and employ them by critically analysing examples of the latest work in political theory – not just by discussing specific pieces academic work, but also by engaging directly with their authors.
- Introduce students to the fundamental dialectical nature of political theory/philosophy, where asking questions, probing and challenging someone’s work, revising one’s thinking on the basis of one’s reaction to challenges etc. is essential to the construction of sound, rigorous arguments.
- Build students’ confidence and sharpen their capacity for critical thinking and dialectic engagement by encouraging them to critically engage with the authors of the academic pieces they have previously analysed in class.
- Sharpen students’ critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Gain a better understanding of how to present a political theory paper.
Teaching and learning methods
The preparatory sessions will be accompanied by an online discussion forum to be set up on Blackboard, to which students will participate in the run up to the sessions (after the text has been circulated).
|Written assignment (inc essay)||75%|
Essay of 2,000 words (50%), Short Article Review of 1000 words (25%), participation of in-class and discussion forum (25%).
- Blau (ed.), Methods in Analytical Political Theory, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).
- D. Leopold and M. Stears (eds.), Political Theory: Methods and Approaches (Oxford: OUP, 2008).
- Jo Wolff, “Analytic Political Philosophy”, p. 795-822 in Beaney ed. The Oxford Handbook to the History of Analytic Philosophy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).
- M. Timmons, 1987, ‘Foundationalism and the Structure of Ethical Justification’, Ethics, 97 (1987): 595-609.
- Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, ‘Thought Experiments’ https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/thought-experiment/
- Sally Haslanger, “Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them to Be?” in Resisting Reality, 221–47 also in Noûs, 34: 31–55.
- James, A. ‘Constructivism, Intuitionism and Ecumenism’, in Olsaretti, S. ed. The Oxford Handbook on Distributive Justice, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Independent study hours|
|Liam Shields||Unit coordinator|
|Miriam Ronzoni||Unit coordinator|