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 SSC 151 - Introduction to Political Theory


In the course Introduction to Political Theory we shall examine the views on the nature of man, of society, and of political authority held by a number of influential Western thinkers. By the means of their particular political theories, the thinkers in question certainly intended to contribute to the solution of problems affecting the communities they were part of and their time. We shall look at the intellectual presuppositions of their theories and compare the problems they intended to solve, as well as their solutions, with the most significant actual political problems, the perception the general public opinion has of them and our current solutions. In particular, we shall focus on the authors’ justification for the existence and organization of political power.

The course aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to the nature, characters, and purposes of each of the various political theories examined, from classical antiquity to today. To achieve this goal it is designed as informative and critical. Students are expected to master a number of relevant items and to assess form and quality of the influence that certain political theories have had, and may still have, on present day politics. In the attempt to determine whether there are ‘perennial’ political problems and features, students are expected to constantly compare past and present, and to find out what are the possible connections between empirical and normative political science. The course wishes to be a useful basis for any further approach to empirical political science, democratic theory, economic theory, theories of crime and punishment, as well as culture and gender studies.


Dr. Tobias van Gent or Dr. Herman Lelieveldt



Political Science


Required for

This course is required in order to take the following courses:

  • Any 200-level Politics course

This course is an alternative requirement for the following courses:

  • A&H 278 History of Empires 

  • A&H 279 Western Way of War 

  • SSC 215 Consumer Society and Media 

  • SSC 231 Anthropology and the Study of Politics 

  • SSC 242 Cities: A Global Perspective 

  • SSC 312 Contemporary Latin American Social Theory 

  • SSC 313 Migration and Integration 

  • SSC 331 Faces of the State: A View from Anthropology 

  • SSC 333 Anthropology of European Transition 

  • SSC 341 Power and Space ​