Centre for Social and Political Thought


The Centre for Social and Political Thought is home to the internationally renowned  MA in Social and Political Thought. The MA consists of two core modules, taken in the Autumn Semester, Text and Critique in Social and Political Thought, and Theorizing the Social, and two options from a basket of modules available in the Spring Semester. There is a 15,000 word dissertation which is written in the Summer, closely supervised by a member of faculty, in conjunction with a Dissertation Training Module.

Students may also undertake an MPhil or DPhil in Social and Political Thought. All of the Centre's post-graduate programmes are unique in that they give students the opportunity to study the various European traditions of social theory, political sociology, Marxism and Frankfurt School critical theory, alongside the diverse contributions of Anglo-American political theory, constructivist theory from Kant to Rawls, and communitarian or neo-Aristotelian theory. Major historical figures of social and political thought, such as Aristotle, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche, are studied alongside the work of more contemporary figures such as Adorno, Bourdieu, Boltanski and Habermas. This is counterbalanced by attention to contemporary issues in post-colonialism, feminism and race critical theory. There are 10 core faculty in SPT, and a large cohort of post-graduate students.

The SPT programmes are convened by Gordon Finlayson (Philosophy, j.g.finlayson@sussex.ac.uk). The Department of Philosophy at the University of Sussex is one of the only in Britain that is strong in European and Continental as well as analytic philosophy. Intellectual Historians who belong to the Centre for Intellectual History in the Department of History are members of the SPT core faculty, as are a number of theorists in the Department of Law. The Department of Sociology has a research group in Social Theory and Political Sociology with historic links to the Centre for Social and Political Thought. Students in SPT can benefit from the interdisciplinary tradition of Sussex university by taking courses across Sociology, International Relations, Politics, Philosophy, and Intellectual History, as well as Social and Political Thought.

Many of our students have gone onto successful careers in research and teaching, law, the media, and NGOs. Over the last 30 years a substantial number of leading academics in the UK and elsewhere have passed through the programme.