Contemporary Political and Social Theory

Subject POLS40001 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 05-Aug-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week.
Total Time Commitment:

Total of 140 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Politics and International Studies at Undergraduate level

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 Clayton Chin


Subject Overview:

This subject examines contemporary debates in political and social theory with a particular focus on developments within and challenges to liberal democracy. Initially these challenges will be framed in terms of theories of postmodernity and a series of related perspectives including: Feminism, Multiculturalism, and Postcolonialism. From this basis, similar dynamics within several strands of Marxist theory (including postmarxism and critical theory) will also be examined and compared with the dominant liberal democratic tradition. Recent Liberal responses in Deliberative Democratic theory that highlight democratic methods of political renewal for complex, pluralistic societies will then be examined focusing in particular on the way that they address key contemporary problems like violence, disagreement and incivility all within the context of the global context of political thinking today. The subject concludes by evaluating recent radical democratic theories which are concerned with establishing new ethical frameworks through which we can rethink democracy and politics.

Learning Outcomes:

• understand the major challenges to liberal democracy in contemporary political theory.
• be able to explain the implications for political theory of recent social and cultural phenomena such as postmodernism and globalization.
• Understand the various challenges of pluralism these new dynamics bring through theories like Feminism, Multiculturalism and Postcolonialism.
• grasp theories of democratic renewal such as those associated with deliberative democracy and radical democracy.
• comprehend the growth of pluralistic interpretations of complex societies in relation to political conflict and disagreement.
• be able to explain the reasons behind the emergence of radical theories of democracy and their implications for political ethics.

  • A book review of 1000 words chosen from a selection of texts provided by the subject coordinator (20%), due during semester.
  • A research essay of 4000 words due during the exam period (80%).

Hurdle requirement: Students must attend a minimum of 80% of classes in order to pass this subject. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject. Regular participation in class is required.

Note: 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.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject students should:

  • possess the ability to explain and analyse complex ideas in a lucid fashion;
  • be capable or organising their work into a coherent structured argument;
  • be able to identify and access relevant research to the topic;
  • display evidence of an analytical approach to theoretical debates;
  • be able to explain the implications of theories for practical politics;
  • demonstrate a thorough and critical understanding of the literature relevant to the topic.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Anthropology
Graduate Certificate in Arts (Advanced) - Politics and International Studies
Graduate Certificate in Arts (Advanced) - Sociology
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Hebrew and Jewish Studies
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Politics and International Studies
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Sociology
Graduate Diploma in Arts (Advanced) - Anthropology
Graduate Diploma in Arts (Advanced) - Politics and International Studies
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Anthropology
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Hebrew and Jewish Studies
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Politics and International Studies
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Sociology
Graduate Diploma of Arts (Advanced) - Sociology
PC-ARTS Politics and International Studies
PC-ARTS Sociology
PD-ARTS Anthropology
PD-ARTS Politics and International Studies
PD-ARTS Sociology
Politics and International Studies

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