Summer 2021 - POL 311 E100

Contemporary Perspectives on Ancient Political Thought (4)

Class Number: 3295

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 5:30 PM – 7:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    POL 210 and three additional lower division political science units or permission of the department.



Central texts in the ancient political thought of the west, as well as important and controversial contemporary perspectives on these texts. In addition to texts by Plato and Aristotle, students will examine commentaries by Allan Bloom, Jacques Derrida, Susan Moller Okin, and Martha Nussbaum. Students who have taken Selected Topics course POL 319 with this topic may not take this course for further credit.


Because the classical Greeks perceived ethics as a branch of politics they emphasized virtuous citizenship. The foundation for ethical frameworks central to political theory was developed by them and their writings continue to influence current thought. Classical theorists grappled with fundamental challenges that still exist in our political world. Is it possible to reconcile the needs of the individual with those of the community? Where should the primary source of political authority be located? What is a more inclusive definition of citizenship that includes women? We will consider the contributions of contemporary political theorists who used the ancient thought as a starting point for their analyse of politics, such as Susan Moller Okin, Arelene Saxonhouse, Allan Bloom, Martha Nussbaum, and Jacques Derrida.


  • Three synchronous take home quizzes (1 hour each) 30%
  • Attendance and Participation in Tutorial 10%
  • Synopsis 20%
  • Term paper 25%
  • Asynchronous Contributions to the online discussion board 15%



Plato, Republic, trans. Reeve (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2004). eText ISBN: 9781603840132
ISBN: 9781603840132

Plato, Symposium, trans. Nehamas and Woodruff (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1995).  eText ISBN: 9781603845014
ISBN: 9781603845014

Aristotle, Politics, trans. Reeve (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1998).  eText ISBN: 9781603842280
ISBN: 9781603842280

Department Undergraduate Notes:

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

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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.


Teaching at SFU in summer 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods, but we will continue to have in-person experiential activities for a selection of courses.  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 ( or 778-782-3112).