Society, State and Humanity

Module code: V7064D
Level 4
15 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

The module surveys a number of fundamental answers given by Western thinkers to the question 'what is society', exploring them in conjunction with answers to the questions 'what is the state?' and 'what is a human being?'. There will be a particular focus on the question of whether humans can be said to exist prior to society or only as constituted by it. Conceptions of society, state and humanity studied may include those of Plato, Aristotle, St. Paul, Hobbes, Smith, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Durkheim, Freud, and feminist and postmodern critiques of these. Please note: this module has some overlap in content with the second year module 'Modern Political Thought' which is a core module for students studying Politics.

Module learning outcomes

  • Show a basic understanding of the range of ways in which society has been conceptualised in Western thought, and the associated conceptions of the state and of humanity.
  • Think more clearly about the taken-for-granted ways in which they themselves conceptualise society, the state and humanity.
  • Discern underlying conceptions of society, the state and humanity in historical and contemporary texts.
  • Demonstrate skills in conceptual analysis, reasoning and argument.