Power Politics and Morality

Module code: POPP 3053

Module description

The module draws upon contemporary social and political theory in order to contrast and compare different concepts of the political. Initially the module will investigate the assumption that political issues are best understood in terms of moral or ethical positions, and the focus will involve contrasting the different understandings of the relationship between politics and morality in the works of Rawls and Habermas. One of the main issues here involves how agreement can be reached on political issues and arrangements.

In the second part of the course the module will consider the divergent position that political issues are better understood in terms of power. The main focus will initially be on the ideas of Weber, Schmitt and Arendt. Weber's ideas on charisma and political action will be considered, before moving on to Schmitt's definition of politic and criticisms of parliamentary democracy and Arendt's idea of the political. One of the main focuses of the investigations here will be questions concerning whether agreement on political issues and arrangements is either possible or desirable. Given this, the module will consider the implications of different understanding of the political for political institutions and practices.

Contact hours per student per year

  • Lectures: 22 hours
  • Tutorials: 22 hours


  • Essay: 50%
  • Essay 2: 50%

Additional costs: No extra costs other than purchase of books