Minor in Political Philosophy | Department of International Relations and Governance Studies

Minor in Political Philosophy

The Department offers an undergraduate Minor in Political Philosophy to those students of the University who are pursuing undergraduate majors in other disciplines. 

Key Information

International Relations and Governance Studies
School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS)
Dr. Atul Mishra, UG Advisor

Philosophy – the pursuit of seeking answers to the most fundamental questions about the world we live in and our relationship with it – is possibly as old as recorded human history. Despite involvement in immediate practical affairs, human beings still find it captivating to ground these experiences in the widest possible framework. The Minor programme in political philosophy invites students to pursue this curiosity systematically and ask big questions about a central human preoccupation – politics. The Minor aims to simultaneously ground students in classical writings and train them as independent thinkers in their own right.

 To earn the minor, students will have to complete the four compulsory/essential courses noted below and take two electives from the options provided. The list of electives is indicative and will be updated by the department regularly.

Essential courses to be completed as part of the Minor in Political Philosophy

Global Political Thought (4 credits)
This course will introduce students to classical writings in political thought from across the world. While politics has been central to almost all human societies, our understanding of its nature, purpose and limits has varied across historical periods and cultures. The course will allow students to engage with key philosophical works that make up our intellectual heritage, while also reflecting on the contexts in which they emerged. Through a study of significant texts, the course will trace continuity and change in our theoretical reflections on politics. Further, this grounding in classical readings will allow students to engage with contemporary debates in an informed and thoughtful manner.

Political Philosophy I – Key Concepts (Justice, Liberty, Equality, Rights) (4 credits)
A set of basic concerns and concepts have become central to our understanding and evaluation of modern political institutions and practices. As the first part of two interlinked courses on key concepts in political philosophy, this course will introduce students to the key philosophical debates surrounding matters of Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Rights. A discussion of these debates will further enable students to gain an understanding of methods and basic ideas underlying normative political philosophy. It will equip them to reflect critically on the normative understandings of our times, while also discussing the limitations of normative theorisation.

Political Philosophy II – Key Concepts (State, Power, Democracy, Citizenship) (4 credits)
This course will introduce students to a second set of concepts – Power, State, Democracy and Citizenship – central to any form of political analysis. The attempt here would be to examine the ways in which different schools of thought have understood these concepts, ranging from ‘essentially contested’ to classifying them as ‘ideal types’. The interrogation of the relationship of these debates to political practice will be a key part of the course. As a continuation of Political Philosophy I, this course will provide students an insight into how the principles of liberty, equality, and justice are anchored in practice.

Political Ideas in Modern India (4 credits)
Modern India has been witness to rich and prolific debates on the nature of freedom, equality, representation, democracy and the role of politics. While in the preindependence era these debates occurred in the context of colonialism and the anticolonial movement, since then the focus has shifted to the nature of the independent Indian state and politics. Through reflections on writings of a diverse set of thinkers and political activists such as Gandhi, Ambedkar, Tagore, Golwalkar, Phule, Lohia and M N Roy, the course will familiarise students with the constitutive ideas of modern Indian political experience.

Other Major Electives and Two UWEs to choose from:
From the following list, students will be required to choose two courses as major electives. This list will be updated in accordance with the faculty expertise and the programme’s requirements. Please note that each of these courses will be of 4 credits. 

  • Liberalism and its Critics
  • Political Ideologies
  • Marxism and its Critics
  • Freedom: A Philosophical Investigation
  • Democracy and its Discontents
  • Green Political Theory
  • Feminist Political Thought
  • History, Context and Theory: Philosophical Approaches
  • Theorising International Relations (UWE - offered already as a core course in the IR Major)
  • International Law and World Politics (UWE - offered already as a core course in the IR Major)
  • Texts in Political Philosophy