Introduction to Political Ideas

Subject POLS10003 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 1 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Jul-2015 to 25-Oct-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Nov-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 07-Aug-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 25-Sep-2015

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:

Total 170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes 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:


Dr David Duriesmith


David Duriesmith


Subject Overview:

An accessible survey of the most important concepts and ideas in political thinking since Confucius and Plato, with particular attention to the major schools of Western political thought from Machiavelli to contemporary political theory. Emphasis will be on concepts such as sovereignty, power, liberty, and equality, and how these concepts are taken up in ideological formations, which include (but is not necessarily limited to) liberalism, Marxism, anarchism, and conservatism. Tutorial discussion focuses on eleven primary source texts of famous political essays, which may include: Machiavelli, 'The Prince', Rousseau, 'Origin of Inequality', Marx and Engels, 'The Communist Manifesto', Mill, 'On Liberty', Goldman, 'Anarchism', and Fanon, 'The Wretched of the Earth'.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students should:

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and critical understanding of key political concepts, including concepts such as power, sovereignty, liberty, equality, and society;
  • Critically apply key political concepts to the study of political ideas, including the way political ideas are articulated in ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and anarchism;
  • Develop an understanding of how political concepts and ideologies influence debates in domestic and international politics;
  • Demonstrate basic knowledge sufficient to evaluate key approaches to the study of politics, including historical, scientific, and material approaches to political science;
  • Recognize the importance of ethical claims in the way political concepts and ideologies operate in framing right and wrong;
  • Communicate effectively in written formats.


An essay of 500 words (12.5%) due in week 4, a research essay of 2000 words (50%) due in week 9, and a 1500 word take home exam (37.5%) due during the examination period.

Hurdle Requirement: This subject has a minimum Hurdle Requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

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

Recommended Texts:

A. Heywood, Political Ideologies, (5th ed.), 2012.

S. Wolin, Politics and Vision, (expanded edition), 2006.

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

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 and International Studies
Politics and International Studies
Politics and International Studies
Related Breadth Track(s): Politics and International Studies

Download PDF version.