PPHE2211 History of Political Ideas

6 points
(see Timetable)

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Semester 1UWA (Perth)Multi-mode Multiple modes of delivery. Unit includes a mix of online and on-campus study requirements. On campus attendance for some activities is required to complete this unit.
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Online timetabled 100% Online Unit. NO campus face-to-face attendance is required to complete this unit. All study requirements are online only. Unit includes some synchronous components, with a requirement for students to participate online at specific times.
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics major sequence
  • Level 2 option in the Philosophy; Political Science and International Relations major sequences
  • Level 2 elective
This unit is a close study of texts of central importance in the development of modern Western political thought – Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, John Locke's Two Treatises of Government, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's On the Social Contract, Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism, On Liberty, and The Subjection of Women. We shall consider both historical and contemporary responses to these texts, together with their influence on later thinkers. We shall also consider how the ideas set out in these texts continue to inform debates over a range of real-world political controversies.
Students are able to (1) independently interpret complex philosophical texts; (2) demonstrate an understanding of complex philosophical arguments and positions concerning Western political thought; (3) evaluate complex philosophical positions and argument concerning Western political thought; (4) weigh the virtues and vices of competing philosophical doctrines concerning Western political thought; (5) construct persuasive arguments concerning difficult philosophical issues concerning Western political thought; (6) demonstrate advanced written communication and research skills; (7) reflect on the nature and purpose of philosophy and philosophical argumentation; (8) communicate an understanding of the field of the history of Western political thought, its central preoccupations, and its main methodologies; (9) explain how thinking about Western political thought has developed over time, including as a response to scholarly debate; and (10) utilise the various methodologies of political philosophy to analyse, compare and evaluate texts.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) written work; (2) examination; and (3) a tutorial participation and presentation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Lachlan Umbers
Unit rules
completion of any POLS or PHIL unit or 24 points in the Bachelor of Arts
POLS3311 History of Political Ideas; POLS2211 History of Political Ideas
Contact hours
lectures: 20 hours; tutorials: 9 hours
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.