POLS301-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018

Contemporary Political Theory

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 16 July 2018
End Date: Sunday, 18 November 2018
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 27 July 2018
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 12 October 2018


The study of politics focuses not only on how the political world operates, but also the normative question of how it ought to operate. Is redistribution of wealth justified? Do people have a right to what they earn in the market? Is equality of opportunity possible? Is it desirable? This course examines theories of distributive justice and their implications for economics and markets. Topics covered include: Utilitarianism; Rawls’s theory of justice; Dworkin’s equality of resources; Libertarianism; Universal basic income; Market socialism; Citizenship; and culture and politics.

Course Goals
Academic aims: To foster a detailed critical understanding of a range of arguments in contemporary political philosophy, and the ability to criticise, evaluate, and apply these arguments.

Learning Outcomes

Learning objectives: By the end of the module, students should be able to comprehend and critically analyse complex arguments from contemporary political philosophy, to provide a critical account of them, and to construct and defend their own sustained arguments about major political values.

Learning methods: Lectures are meant to provide students with an overview of the various topics covered in the module, and the material presented in them is by no means to be considered exhaustive. Students are expected to do additional reading for lectures and especially for seminars. Seminars are an extremely important part of the module, and their value depends on students’ active participation in the discussion. This may involve group work and oral or written presentations to the rest of the class. Discussions in, and preparations for, seminars are essential for the understanding of the material in the lectures, and for extending this material.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.


15 points at 200 level in POLS or PHIL236 or PHIL239. Students without these prerequisites but with at least a B average in 60 points in appropriate courses may enter the course with the approval of the Head of Department and/or Programme coordinator.


PHIL317, POLS351

Equivalent Courses


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Essay Proposal 5% A hypothesis, bibliography uploaded to Learn &discussion with lecturer by the end of the week 4
Test 10% In the last class of term one, a 1 hour test
Participation 10% Weekly assignments and attendance
Essay 35%
Final Exam 40%

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Zwolinski, Matt; Arguing about political philosophy ; 2nd edition;

Also recommended:

Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy, 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, 2002.
Dryzek, John, Bonnie Honig, and Anne Phillips, eds. 2006. The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Goodin, Robert E., and Phillip Pettit, eds. 2006. Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Wolff, Jonathan. 2006. An Introduction to Political Philosophy. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Additional Course Outline Information

Where to submit and collect work

Essay boxes are located on the 5th floor Locke, outside the POLS office, Locke 501.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,493.00

International fee $6,075.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences .

All POLS301 Occurrences

  • POLS301-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018