Philosophy MA/BSc/MA(SocSci)

Liberalism PHIL4044

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

In this course, we will explore and understand the different ways that we might conceive of liberalism as a political philosophy. We will do this by analysing disagreements about the correct political morality of liberalism, and also by drawing out the consequences of these foundational disagreements for liberal theories of institutions.


16x1hr lectures; 4x1hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Philosophy and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Exam (1 hour duration) - 40%

Essay (2000 words) - 40%

Short written piece (1000 words) - 20%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Explore the range of philosophical accounts of the foundations and nature of liberalism;

■ Analyse key debates over the role of value judgements in politics;

■ Critically assess contemporary theories of legitimacy and neutrality;

■ Apply these theories to contemporary political problems of culture and community.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Explain and evaluate the main theories about the nature of neutrality and its role in liberalism;

■ Critically discuss the debate between comprehensive and political liberals;

■ Explain and assess philosophical theories about the nature and value of cultures and communities;

■ Apply these theories to real-world political and economic policies and institutions;

■ Communicate their own political philosophical ideas and arguments clearly and effectively.

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.