POLS301-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Contemporary Political Theory

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


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.

Topics covered include: Utilitarianism; Rawls’s theory of justice; Dworkin’s equality of resources; Libertarianism; Taxation and incentives; Moral limits of the market; Universal basic income; Market socialism.

Course aims: To foster a detailed critical understanding of a range of arguments in contemporary political philosophy, and the ability to criticise, evaluate, explain (verbally and in writing), 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: This course uses lectures and discussions, with an emphasis on learning through interpersonal communication. In the discussion, students will work individually and within groups to create an understanding of the class readings; chatting about their interpretations and ideas to each other, before presenting them to the class.  Before we embark on these discussions, we will work together to ensure there is the confidence and trust in the class to ensure we can freely discuss political arguments.

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.

Globally aware

Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 30 points at 200 level from PHIL or POLS, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA, or
the Schedule V of the BCom.


PHIL317, POLS351

Timetable 2023

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 15:00 - 17:00 E14 Lecture Theatre
20 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 09:00 - 11:00 Beatrice Tinsley 111
20 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Essay 35% Full draft due end of Week 12 and final due end of exam week. 2500 words maximum.
Essay proposal 5% Proposal due end of Week 5
Weekly reflections 10% Provide 100-200 words that either 1) summarise one of the readings, or 2) reflect on their response to one of the readings 3) demonstrate an engagement with the week's topic in politics and history or 4) something you just need to reflection upon in your life
Last week of Term 1 25%
Test 2 Last week of Term 2 25%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Texts:

• Zwolinski, M. (2013). Arguing about political philosophy. New York: Routledge (available at the University Bookshop)
• David Leopold, and Marc Stears, eds. Political Theory: Methods and Approaches. Oxford University Press USA, 2008. (ebook in library)
• Will Kymlicka; Contemporary Political Philosophy; 2nd; Oxford University Press, 2002.
• Gaus, Gerald F, Kukathas, Chandran. Handbook of Political Theory. London: SAGE Publications, 2004. (ebook in library)
• Colin Farrelly, Contemporary Political Theory: A Reader, SAGE Publications, 2003. (see sage for ebook).
• Dryzek, John, Bonnie Honig, and Anne Phillips, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 2006.
• Goodin, Robert E. and Phillip Pettit, eds. Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 2006.
• Wolff, Jonathan. An Introduction to Political Philosophy. Oxford, UK: Oxford

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,641.00

International fee $7,500.00

* 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

  • POLS301-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023
  • POLS301-23S1 (D) Semester One 2023 (Distance)