Spring 2021 - POL 210 D100

Introduction to Political Philosophy (3)

Class Number: 4828

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:


  • Prerequisites:

    POL 100 or 101W or permission of department.



An examination of concepts presented by the major political thinkers of the western world. The course surveys those ideas which remain at the root of our political institutions, practices and ideals against a background of the periods in which they were expressed. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.



This course serves as an introduction to key normative concepts and ideas in political philosophy found within the western philosophical tradition. This course provides a historical and conceptual discussion of the leading and important ideas that enliven liberal democratic states. Understanding these ideas and the contexts from which they have arisen, affords us the tools to critically consider our own experiences and the actions of political actors.

We cover disparate and interesting ideas starting with the ancient political thought of Socrates, concluding with the contemporary thought of John Rawls. At the end of the course you will have an awareness of and knowledge of the deep ideas that are the foundation of liberal thought and you will come to appreciate the issues these ideas present by testing their currency against vexing contemporary problems such as gender and racial inequality, multiculturalism, and Indigenous rights. Finally, this course also provides a platform for further development of critical thinking and writing skills. 

Course Organization: 

Asynchronous Lecture

Syncrhonous Tutorials on Tuesdays 4:30/5:30/6:30 pm.


  • Final Exam 35%
  • Midterm 30%
  • Essay 30%
  • Participation measured by three reflection pieces 5%



Plato, Republic, trans. Reeve, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2004.  ISBN 978-0872207370

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. by Edwin Curley, Hackett, 1994.  ISBN 978-0872201774

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, student edition, Cambridge Press, 1998.  ISBN 9780521357302

Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays, Hackett Publishing, 1983.  ISBN 978-0915145478

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (Oct. 12 1987).  ISBN 978-9990065169

Niccolo Machiavelli, THE PRINCE (TRANS WOOTON).  Hackett Publishing. 1995.  (Binding: Paperback).  ISBN-13: 9780872203167  ISBN-10: 0872203166

Other reading material will be available on Canvas.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).