skip to primary navigationskip to content

Group Study

MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History

Group Study

Mandatory MPhil Classes

Faculty of History 6The mandatory general study component of the MPhil consists of a series of taught classes, which will run through the first two terms. The eighteen classes (8 + 4 + 6) involve studying the history of political thought or intellectual history through a close study of texts, an introduction to methodological issues, and discussion of key themes in political theory. Their purpose is to introduce students to the advanced study of selected texts and debates, both for their own sake and as models for the pursuit of research in related areas. Because of the broad range of students on the course, not all will find the subjects of all classes equally close to their own research concerns.  Nonetheless all are required to participate actively in order to benefit from the general educational opportunity offered by these classes.

In one term a pair of alternative textual classes is normally offered, to cater for diverging interests along a rough chronological divide and also to keep class sizes down to a level compatible with intensive participatory work. Students will be assigned to one or the other class by decision of the Academic Secretary. Concurrently, a series of four classes is offered, designed to introduce students to key methodological issues in the history of political thought, including the ‘Cambridge school’ and other approaches.

In the other term a further three series of six classes each is offered to facilitate the understanding of fundamental themes and concepts in political thought. Students will be invited to list their first and second choices and the Academic Secretary will do his best to accommodate preferences while keeping numbers roughly balanced between the three series. Short reading lists are usually issued for each class and students are expected to participate actively in each class.

Classes vary from year to year.  The teaching programme for 2018-19 is given below:


8 classes

8 classes

8 classes

6 classes


Aquinas (Dr Magnus Ryan)

Montesquieu (Miss Sylvana Tomaselli)

Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism (Dr Waseem Yaqoob)

Methods in the History of Political Thought (various)


6 classes

6 classes

6 classes


Democracy (Prof R Bourke

Punishment (Miss Sylana Tomaselli)

The Anthropocene (Prof Duncan Kelly)

The Postgraduate Office will be closed

from 4pm GMT on Friday 20 December to 9am Thursday 2 January, and we will be unable to respond to queries during this time.