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Aims of the Course

The MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History is aimed at students who have an interest in both the theory and history of political thought (including those wider intellectual idioms which provide the context for its development). It also welcomes students whose previous study had a more specialised historical or theoretical (or philosophical) bent, provided that while doing this course they are willing to engage themselves with both approaches to research.

This MPhil attracts students from all over the world, and its training provides an ideal foundation from which to proceed to doctoral research, not only in the United Kingdom, but in North American, European, Asian and Southern Hemisphere university systems.

Priority is given to the pursuit of the individual student’s research: all examined work derives from this research.  Classes are provided in Methodology, in the reading of selected texts, and in selected concepts: these are intended to be ‘exemplary’, offering opportunities to explore different methods used in the field, different approaches to reading texts, and a variety of political concepts.  Work done in classes is not examined.

The MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History offers students a rounded and flexible Masters programme that provides them with an introduction to all three of the fields contained within its scope (History of Political Thought, Political Theory, Intellectual History), while allowing them to specialise in their own area of particular interest. It offers a thorough training in the key techniques of higher-level academic study and research.

The MPhil is inter-Faculty: History, Politics, and Classics are the participating departments. The teaching staff, and examiners, have diverse disciplinary backgrounds, as do students on the course.

After completion of the MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History, students should have:

  1. acquired an enhanced understanding of the history of political thought as well as an appreciation of the broader theoretical approaches and intellectual idioms that inform its study.
  2. acquired the analytical capacity to pursue independent study of primary texts in the history of political thought and to evaluate the findings of secondary commentators
  3. acquired the ability to situate their own research findings within the context of previous and current interpretative scholarly debates in the field of political thought and intellectual history