Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Philosophy


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • At least one 'Year 1' module in Philosophy.


  • At least one other 'Year 2' module in Philosophy.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce - and to assess answers to - major philosophical questions concerning political life, its structure and organisation.


  • The core themes of the module, at least two of which will be covered in any given year, are:
  • Core Political Philosophy. For example: What, if anything, explains State Legitimacy?; Liberalism, its Varieties and Discontents; Democracy and Democratic Theory
  • Topic (s) in Contemporary Political Philosophy. For example: Justice and Equality; Global Justice and Sovereignty; Political Philosophy in the Context of Climate Change; Political Philosophy of Immigration; Human Rights; Law and Political Philosophy; Political Philosophy and the Market; Conservatism.
  • The History of Political Philosophy. For example: Key figure (s) or texts from the History of Political Philosophy.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students should be able to demonstrate both knowledge and critical understanding of :
  • Some key issues in contemporary analytical political philosophy, and
  • The philosophical implications of some modern political issues.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • grasp, analyse, evaluate and deploy subject-specific concepts and arguments
  • locate, understand, assess and utilise pertinent philosophical sources (and, where appropriate, sources from other relevant disciplines, such as history, political theory and sociology).
Key Skills:
  • express themselves clearly and succinctly in writing
  • comprehend complex ideas, propositions and theories
  • defend their opinions by reasoned argument
  • seek out and identify appropriate sources of evidence and information
  • tackle problems in a clear-sighted and logical fashion.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures deliver basic module-specific information, and provide a framework for further study.
  • Discussion groups provide opportunities for students to test their own understanding of the material studies, and defend and debate different opinions.
  • Guided reading provides a structure within which students exercise and extend their abilities to make use of available learning resources.
  • The Formative exam provides an opportunity for students to test their knowledge and understanding of the module content, and their ability to present and defend relevant arguments and theories, uninhibited by the need for summative assessment.
  • The take-home examinations test students' overall knowledge and understanding of the module content, and their ability to bring it to bear on new problems

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Discussion groups 8 fortnightly 1 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One take-home exam at the end of Epiphany Term, examining the material taught in Michaelmas term. Students will answer two questions from a selection take home 50% Yes
One take-home exam during Easter Term, examining the material taught in Epiphany term, students will answer two questions from a selection take home 50% Yes

Formative Assessment:

One formative take home exam at the end of Michaelmas Term.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University