Douglas College wordmark
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Snapchat logo YouTube logo Wordpress logo
back to search

Introduction to Political Theory

Course Code: POLI 2201
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Political Science
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: Winter
course overview

This course introduces students to selected great thinkers of Western political theory who inspired others to critically assess their political thinking and understanding of citizenship. Their ideas will serve as the starting point for appraising the relationship between politics and philosophy and the search for justice and the good life. What makes authority legitimate? What freedoms can citizens claim? What are rights? What does justice require? This course is intended for students without any formal background in political theory or philosophy.

Course Content

1. Philosophy and Politics

2. The Ancient Greeks: Plato and Aristotle

3. The Medieval Era: Aquinas and Machiavelli

4. The Early Moderns: Hobbes and Locke

5. The Moderns: Rousseau, Marx, and J. S. Mill

6.  Contemporaries: Rawls, Nozick, Taylor, Berlin, Nussbaum, Sandel, and Dworkin

Methods of Instruction

Instructor presentation of the course will involve the use of formal lectures, structured group work, and in-class discussion of assigned materials. Additional readings may be assigned for each course unit and placed on library reserve or via selected websites. Audio-visual and interactive materials may be used.

Means of Assessment

The course evaluation will be based on course objectives and in accordance with the policies of Douglas College and the Department of Political Science. A minimum of 40% of the student’s course grade will be assigned to mid-term and final examinations, a minimum of 30% will be assigned to a formal research essay, and a maximum of 30% will be based upon components such as quizzes, short essays, attendance, participation, and class presentations. Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor in course outlines.

One example of an evaluation system:

Article Critique                                15%

Participation                                   10%

Mid-term exam                               20%

Term essay                                    30%

Final exam                                     25%

                                Total:           100%

Learning Outcomes

Upon conclusion of the course, successful students will be able to:

1. demonstrate how political thinking developed and evolved within the Western political tradition;

2. understand and analyze basic concepts and principles such as justice, equality, rights, obligation, power, authority, law, and freedom;

3. assess how these basic concepts and principles influenced the development of Western political thought, and consequently the evolution of political and social institutions, law, constitutions, and communities;

4. pursue advanced studies in political theory, political philosophy, and/or the history of political thought.

course prerequisites

POLI 1101 or permission of instructor

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.