Republics, kings and people: the foundations of modern political culture HI1006-05

The aim of the course is to enable students to explore the history of political thinking from Plato to Rousseau both chronologically and thematically.


30 Credits

Topics covered

  • The course will study selected political writings of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, More, Luther and Calvin, Bodin, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau.
  • Attention will be paid to the intellectual content of these works, the biographical dimension and the political and conceptual context.
  • Attention will also be paid to the thematic dimensions of the history of political theory – republicanism, natural right theories, patriarchalism, natural order theories and the impact of confessionalism and secularisation.

Learning outcomes

In terms of the acquisition of subject knowledge, students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Reflect with understanding on the main conceptual developments of the period
  • Appreciate the differences between classical, Christian, post reformation and ‘enlightenment’ political languages
  • Understand and appreciate the different audiences and literary forms of the works
  • Identify the main conceptual innovations changes of the period and offer explanations for these
  • Appreciate the literary nature and intellectual purpose of the texts

In terms of the acquisition of skills, students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Digest a wide range of primary reading, assessing the value of this material in terms of argument and evidence
  • Execute practical commentaries on textual passages
  • Write properly structured, clearly argued, fluently expressed essays
  • Exchange and debate ideas with other members of the class and with the tutor
  • Work regularly and meet the prescribed deadlines.


Exam (80%)
Essay (10%)
Reflective journal and forum posts (10%)