Introduction to Political Ideas

Subject POLS10003 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 1 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 1 x two hour lecture and 1 x one hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: none
Corequisites: none
Recommended Background Knowledge: none
Non Allowed Subjects:

Any of the following subjects:

166-108 Contemporary Ideologies and Movements

166-020 Modern Political Thought

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purpose of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Prof. Verity Burgmann

Subject Overview:

An accessible survey of the most important ideas in Western political thinking since Plato and Aristotle, with emphasis on the major schools of thought since the eighteenth century "Enlightenment", especially those that have had significant political impacts. The ideas studied include liberalism, Marxism, anarchism, communism, socialism, nationalism, fascism, conservatism, feminism, neo-liberalism and environmentalism. Tutorial discussion focuses on eleven primary source documents of famous political essays, in the subject reading pack, which include: Rousseau, "Origin of Inequality", Marx and Engels, "The Communist Manifesto", Mill, "On Liberty", Bakunin, "State and Society", Fanon, "The Wretched of the Earth" and Friedman, "Capitalism and Freedom".

  • have an appreciation of the range of political ideas that have motivated and expressed the needs of large groups of people since Athenian democracy.
  • be familiar with the development and principal arguments of the major schools of political thought in the past 250 years.
Assessment: An essay of 500 words (12.5%) due early in semester, an essay of 1500 words (37.5%) due mid-semester, and a 2-hour exam (50%) during the examination period.
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available for purchase from the University Bookshop.

Recommended Texts:

A Heywood, Political Ideologies, (4th ed.), 2007.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be able to research through the competent use of the library and other information sources, and be able to define areas of inquiry and methods of research in the preparation of essays.
  • be able to conceptualise theoretical problems, form judgements and arguments and communicate critically, creatively and theoretically through essay writing, tutorial discussion and presentations.
  • be able to communicate knowledge ideologically and economically through essay writing and tutorial discussion.
  • be able to manage and organise workloads for recommended reading, the completion of essays and assignments and examination revision.
  • be able to participate in team work through small group discussions.
Notes: Available as a Breadth subject to non-Bachelor of Arts students
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Arts(Media and Communications)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Political Science Major
Politics && International Studies
Politics and International Studies
Politics and International Studies

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