Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE History of Political Thought

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit surveys major thinkers in Western Political Thought from the ancient Greek to present day post-modern representatives. Particular attention will be paid to the historical context of thinkers and the development of their ideas. In surveying the philosophical thought characteristic of such broad divisions of history as the Philosophical period, the Medieval, the Modern and the Post Modern, we shall study names ranging from Plato, Augustine, Machiavelli, Hobbes to Rousseau, Hegel and Nietzsche. In this way we will examine such key concepts as power, the state, freedom, justice, equality, representation, legitimacy, etc.


1. To introduce students to the origins of our present ideas about politics;
2. To familiarize students with both political concepts and political thinkers;
3. To help students gain an insight on different assumptions and ideas concerning the nature of politics as they have grown and developed over the course of history.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- understand the fundamental origins to Western Political concerns with justice, liberty, equality, the State, etc.;
- understand the ancestry of contemporary Western political thought in reference to four broad areas of historical inquiry - the philosophical, Religious, Modern and Post Modern periods;
- relate socio-political issues in their own lives as Maltese-European citizens to the historical background that gave rise to present day European Union concerns.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- conceptualize, analytically and philosophically, the background dynamics and historical complexities to the socio-political principles of everyday life encountered in politics, the media, technology, society, etc.;
- appreciate the dialectical development of the way our political languages have emanated from specific historical sources;
- relate their approach to doing analytical research to life issues in general - both inter-disciplinarily and personally;
- appreciate the primacy of the role of reasoned argumentation and for allowing maximum expression of opposing and competing positions to their own in a dialectically democratic space of toleration of various ideas and differing perspectives.

Reading List:

Donald G. Tannenbaum and David Schultz, 1998. Inventors of Ideas: An Introduction to Western Political Philosopy, New York: St. Martin’s Press.

ADDITIONAL NOTES This study-unit cannot be taken by students who have registered for/have completed PHI1014


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Jean-Paul De Lucca

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.