• Offered by School of Politics and International Relations
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Political Science
  • Areas of interest Philosophy, Political Sciences
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person

The past hundred years have seen monumental and rapid socio-political changes around the world, which have transformed the way we live our lives. If we are to understand how we got to where we are, and ensure that we build just societies into the future, we need to grapple with the ideas and ideologies that continue to drive social, political, and economic change. This course invites students to do so, by surveying the central ideas and thinkers in contemporary normative (i.e., ethical or evaluative) political theory. The first half of the course looks at influential schools of political thought: authoritarianism and totalitarianism, Rawlsian liberalism, liberal-egalitarianism, libertarianism, and feminism. This will give students a firm theoretical foundation upon which to analyse and critique applied topics in contemporary politics during the second half of the course. These topics include: free speech, the design of fair voting systems, reparations, and the rights of nonhuman animals and the environment. Students are shown how to connect everyday political conversation with some of the leading ideas in political theory and, ideally, to tune their ear to conceptual incoherence and logical inconsistency in the former.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. demonstrate an ability to understand, and critically assess, arguments made in political theory;
  2. demonstrate an ability to coherently formulate arguments about politics;
  3. demonstrate an ability to anticipate, formulate, and effectively respond to counterarguments; and
  4. demonstrate an ability to gather and critically organize a variety of scholarly sources in ways that engage relevant literature.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Short essay, 1500 words (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Long essay, 2500 words (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Tutorial work (participation + preparation) (20) [LO 1,2]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 35 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures, and 11 hours of tutorials; and,

b) 95 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 1000 level Political Science (POLS) or Philosophy (PHIL) courses, or with permission of the convenor.

Prescribed Texts

Readings will be provided.

Assumed Knowledge

It is recommended that students first take POLS2119 Ideas in Politics.



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $4440
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6000
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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