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Range of Subjects

MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History

Range of Subjects

The range of subjects listed under each heading below is for orientation. It indicates the possible directions of study which students can pursue within the framework of the MPhil.

1. History of Political Thought


Political thought in the Ancient World; The scope of politics, democracy, aristocracy, monarchy and tyranny in Classical political thought; the political thought of the Roman republic and empire; Christianity and politics in late Antiquity and medieval Europe; the renaissance of political thought from the twelfth century; Conciliarism; Republican political thought in Italy and the rise of political humanism in the Renaissance; the Reformation and political thought, the formation of the concept of sovereignty and resistance theories; 17th and 18th-century political theory, natural jurisprudence, reason of state and republicanism; the origins of nationalism; the intellectual history of imperialism; the concepts of the state, power and international relations in the modern political order; the rise of political economy and the emergence of the 'modern republic'; the development of German political thought; Critics of capitalism and modern civilisation, the history of socialism and Marxism; the feminist contribution to political thought; political thought in the late 19th and 20th centuries; Current debates in the history of political thought.

2. Political Theory


Conceptual foundations of political analysis: liberty, property, equality, rights, duties, and obligations; theories of justice, questions concerning political judgment, methodological strategies in political theory, modes of argument and philosophical assumptions. Theories of the polis, the civitas and the modern state, constitutionalism and ideal state forms. The state and citizenship, government and self-government, definitions of the ‘modern republic’ and democracy. Conditions of political reform and revolution, theories of conflict. Class and gender in political theory. Major idioms of political thought, liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, communitarianism, feminism, social democracy and socialism as political ideologies. Civil society and the state, the interaction between the economy and the political sphere, economic limits to politics, political theory and modern economics. The nation state and its crisis. Political theory and the environment. Power relations in the international world and international political economy. Cosmopolitanism, imperialism and global justice.

3. Intellectual History


For the purpose of this MPhil course, intellectual history embraces the study of scholarly, historical philosophical and theological arguments in their own right, and as they provide the context for the development of political and social theory from Classical Antiquity to the present. It includes the following topics: methodological debates within intellectual history and the history of philosophy; classical rhetoric; Platonism and Aristotelianism; scholasticism; humanism; The history of scholarship more generally; debates in moral philosophy; scepticism and the rise of the ideas of moral science; social science; political science and economics; cultural relativism and the discovery of America; European cultural developments and the understanding of non-European cultures and Stages' theories of history; historiography and the development of political thought; debates on civilisation and the cultural critique of civilisation; the impact of science on political thought; gender and intellectual history; aesthetics and political thought; theological elements in political thought and the consequences of modern secularisation.