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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jason Mayerfeld
POL S 201
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Political Theory

Philosophical bases of politics and political activity. Provides an introduction to the study of politics by the reading of a few books in political philosophy. Organized around several key political concepts, such as liberty, equality, justice, authority, rights, and citizenship. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

Description: This course examines a selection of the most profound and influential works of Western political theory from Plato (4th Century BCE) to the present day. The principal themes of the course are freedom, justice and peace. What do these ideals mean? In what does their value consist? How are they best achieved? These themes are linked in turn to the fundamental question of legitimacy: Under what conditions and on what grounds may governments claim the obedience of their citizens? The objective of the course is to understand and critically evaluate the arguments of different theorists, and to reach your own reasoned positions on the issues raised by them.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Texts: Plato, Republic; Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; John Locke, Second Treatise of Government; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality and Social Contract; John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.

Class assignments and grading

Requirements: There will be two five-page papers, and a final exam.

Grading: First Paper: 35 %; Second exam: 35 %; Final Exam: 20 %; Participation: 10 %.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Suman C. Chhabra
Date: 02/18/2009