Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Political Philosophy PHIL5080

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course concentrates on some central and controversial values invoked in the appraisal of political life and on a range of theories that seek to ground them. In particular, we will discuss the nature and scope of individual rights, liberty and autonomy; and questions concerning the nature and justification of democratic government.


2 lectures per week for 9 weeks, plus 4 tutorials. The course may not run every year. Options running this year are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses





Two essays, equally weighted, each with a word limit of 2500 words.

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ introduce students to the central ideas of modern liberal political theory

■ encourage students to engage critically with these ideas

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Explain what political philosophy is;


■ Explain and critically assess theories of the nature and value of rights, liberty, and autonomy;


■ Explain and critically assess theories concerning the nature and justification of democracy;


■ Develop their own political philosophical positions in response to the literature, and back them up with careful and rigorous philosophical argument.


Assessment for this course is at Masters Level.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.