PPHE2211 History of Political Ideas

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Philosophy; Political Science and International Relations major sequences
  • Level 2 complementary unit in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • 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
PHIL unit
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
Unit Outline
Semester 1-2020 [SEM-1-2020]
  • 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.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.