PAIS320 Classical Political Thinkers

Updated: 19 March 2018
Credit Points 6
Offering Not offered in 2019
Intensive School(s) None
Supervised Exam There is no supervised examination.
Pre-requisites 12cp in Political and International Studies or any 48cp or candidature in a postgraduate award
Co-requisites None
Restrictions POLS220 or POLS320

offered in even numbered years

Combined Units None
Coordinator(s) Anthony Lynch (
Unit Description

Politics, power, order, authority, security, legitimation - these are the foundational terms of political theory. The foundational thinkers for understanding these terms - more particularly, for understanding the various ways these terms have been interpreted and inter-related - are Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. This unit discusses how each of these thinkers deployed these terms and how their views developed. Doing this enables us to better understand the nature of authoritarianism, elitism, democracy, liberalism, socialism and republicanism, and their critical interactions. No-one can claim, with any plausibility, to know what they are saying on any of these topics without understanding these seminal political thinkers.

Materials Textbook information will be displayed approximately 8 weeks prior to the commencement of the teaching period. Please note that textbook requirements may vary from one teaching period to the next.
Disclaimer Unit information may be subject to change prior to commencement of the teaching period.
Assessment Assessment information will be published prior to commencement of the teaching period.
Learning Outcomes (LO) Upon completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. exhibit a broad, historically informed, theoretical knowledge of the key concepts of political philosophy and theory: power, authority, legitimacy and justice;
  2. reflect upon, demonstrate an understanding of, and critically and comparatively analyse the work of 6 major political philosophers as they engage with the concepts of power, authority, legitimacy and justice;
  3. acquire and deploy strategies for reflective and self-critical learning in creative problem-solving; and
  4. demonstrate critical thinking, well developed judgement and personal responsibility in their assessment tasks.