Introduction to Political Theory

Welcome to an experimental project in online education: a roughly undergraduate level, introductory survey course in social and political theory.

I will use a mixture of video/podcast lectures and, hopefully, video call discussion sessions, should there be interest in this. Depending on how it goes I may expand the offering and/or start charging for parts of it or taking donations, but initially it will be totally free.

There are some advantages to teaching a class online and outside of a university: 

– Anyone can take it, regardless of age, occupation or location.

– It is totally flexible, I can go on as long as I like, digress onto topics of special interests to students, have guests etc.

Below is my draft plan for the syllabus so far, with more detail on the early stages and a bare outline later on. I’m also plotting a few adjustments to add e.g. sections on key ideologies, so this is not the finished article. Suggestions welcome!

Links to videos and podcasts will be added here as they are uploaded.

I will upload the readings here as I prepare them and fill in the gaps with specifics as we go along. It is not essential to do any reading, of course. I will explain the texts in my lectures, to some extent anyway, and enough to give a good sense of their basic thrust.

For those who wish to take part in discussions, it will definitely help to do a little reading, but the page count will never be too onerous, probably never more than about 30 pages at one go.

Unit 1: What is social and political theory?
Unit 2: Nature and society
Unit 3: Reality: Power and Injustice
Unit 4: Ideals: Freedom, equality and democracy