Ideas of History

Module code: V1375
Level 5
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

In this module, you learn about the revival of classical ideas and politics during the Renaissance and Reformation, the debate between ancients and moderns in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the nature of modern political thought as it developed from the middle of the 19th century to the present day.

The aim is to give you an ability to place modern ideas about politics in their historical context, through the study of central figures and themes whose writings continue to be cited in political argument.

The authors considered include: Machiavelli, Milton, Hobbes, Locke, Harrington, Mandeville, Montesquieu, Hume, Rousseau, Smith, Bentham, Hegel, Constant, Tocqueville, Marx, Weber, Lenin, Gramsci, Schmitt, Arendt, Chomsky, and Rawls.

You look at:

  • virtue and security
  • the origins of democracy
  • absolutism and empire
  • perpetual peace
  • reason of state and amoral politics
  • the debate about commerce, luxury and markets
  • the size of the state and its form of government
  • the nature of liberty and the means of maintaining it
  • totalitarianism and slavery in politics
  • modern democracy, philosophy and the modern state
  • civil liberty, war and empire.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate a broad understanding of central themes in the history of political thought.
  • Assess the nature of the classical legacy to the modern world and the nature of its various impacts upon the modern world.
  • Be able to define political argument and its relationship with natural philosophy, political economy, theology and international relations, from classical to modern times.
  • Display evidence of the ability to think about political argument comparatively, meaning at least across two European states.