00983 - History of Political Doctrines

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will have acquired the tools to tackle the theoretical and practical issues debated in the history of modern and contemporary political thought, including direct reading of texts by the main authors in the history of political doctrines. They also learn how to identify categories, languages and complex concepts relating to the discipline in a long-term framework and how to express themselves correctly in the appropriate terminology. They will display critical-methodological reasoning skills as used in constructing conceptual maps, adopting analysis models and assessing solutions to theoretical problems.

Course contents

Students will be introduced to main political concepts, such as state, sovereignty, democracy, freedom, equality, citizenship, revolution) through the analysis of the most important classics of modern and contemporary political thought and the main political traditions (such as rationalism, republicanism dialectical thinking, marxism, decisionism, deconstructionism). 

The course will be articulated in two modules of 30 hours. 

- The first one will deal with the emergence of modern political thought and will discuss authors such as Machiavelli, La Boétie, Hobbes, Locke and the American political tradition; 

- the second one will address the period between the age of the French revolution and the crisis of modern sovereignty in the 20th century. The lectures will be focused in particular on Rousseau and Kant (first week), on the French and the Haitian revolution and on the development of post-revolutionary political thought (second week), on the birth and the fundamental aspect of dialectical thinking (through the discussion of Hegel and Marx, in the third and part of the fourth week), on the fundamental traits of the 20th century political thought and on the crisis of modern political logics (through references to Nietzsche, Weber, Schmitt, Arendt, the Frankfurt School and Foucault).


Bibliography for attending students

1) Manuale di storia del pensiero politico , a c. di C. Galli, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011 (from chapter 3, to chapter 15 included).

2) I grandi testi del pensiero politico. Antologia , a c. di C. Galli, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011 (ten authors selected by the student)


Bibliography for students who do not attend classes

The program for non-attending students will be based on the mandatory reading of the whole following volumes: 

1) Manuale di storia del pensiero politico , a c. di C. Galli, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011
2) I grandi testi del pensiero politico. Antologia, a c. di C. Galli, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2011

Teaching methods

The course consists of lectures. It aims at furnishing the conceptual instruments and the proper lexicon of the history of modern political thought, introducing students to direct understanding of classical texts in the history of political thought, and of a system of radical critique of modernity.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

The final exam will be an oral one, with questions aimed at verifying student's mastership of the themes discussed in class (only for attending students) as well as those treated in textbooks.

Non-attending students will have to take an oral final exam about the themes treated in textbooks.

The evaluation will focus particularly on the student's capacity of handling the sources and readings indicated in the bibliography and his ability to correlate the various themes and problems addressed in the course.

The assessment will thus examine the student's:

- factual knowledge of the subject;
- ability to summarise and analyse themes and concepts;
- familiarity with the terminology associated with the course and his ability to use it effectively.

Top marks will be awarded to a student displaying an overall understanding of the topics discussed during lectures, combined with a critical approach to the material and a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology.
Average marks will be awarded to a student who has memorized the main points of the material and is able to summarise them satisfactorily and provide an effective critical commentary, while failing to display a complete mastership of the appropriate terminology.
A student will be deemed to have failed the exam if he displays significant errors in his understanding and failure to grasp the overall outlines of the course, together with a poor mastership of the appropriate terminology.

Office hours

See the website of Antonio Del Vecchio

See the website of Raffaele Laudani