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The University of Southampton

PAIR1004 Introduction to Political Theory

Module Overview

Students should gain a knowledge of how political ideas - such as freedom, equality, justice, or democracy - have been understood in different and incompatible ways, and how those different understandings have been the occasion for ideological or normative debates. Through an analysis of those concepts and the ways in which they are deployed, students will gain an insight into the nature of some of the most important historical and/or contemporary controversies within political theory.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • State clearly the core arguments of the political thinkers and texts discussed on the course
  • Summarise and explain the political significance of those thinkers and texts
  • Show the strengths and weaknesses of the particular conceptions and arguments defended by individual theorists


The module will focus on key texts, either by major thinkers from the western tradition of political theory (e.g. Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, Marx) and/or 'contemporary' (post-WWII) thinkers.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be 2 hours of lectures per week. Lectures will be delivered either face to face or online only, depending upon University and Public Health England Guidance at the time. Weekly student participation in online discussion boards. 1 hour per week delivered asynchronously.

Independent Study120
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Primary texts from the authors selected for the module. Copies will be available for purchase from the University Book store and available from the University Library. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Discussion board activity 25%
Research project 50%
Research proposal 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1500 words) 60%
Essay  (1500 words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Purchasing copies of the assigned texts where necessary (though most should be available via the library and/or online). While students are free to acquire the most affordable edition of the texts possible, they are required and expected to purchase and read all of the required texts for the module. Students are also responsible for their own stationery costs, which will vary depending on their preferred note taking methods.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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