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POLS301 Power and Liberty

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
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An introduction to the complex and contested nature of the concept of power, and the different ways in which power shapes and constrains human liberty. A variety of theories and theorists will be considered, drawing from the ancient, modern, and contemporary periods in the history of ideas.

This paper examines the contested nature of the concepts of liberty and power and the different ways that power shapes and constrains our liberty. Are we freer the less we are constrained by the power of the state? Or does freedom involve more than being left alone to do whatever we wish? Can laws be a source of liberation? Is the will to power a cause for celebration or the curse of modern existence? Is modern surveillance empowering, or is it the latest method forcing us to conform? In exploring these questions we draw on a variety of thinkers in the history of modern political thought from Machiavelli to Foucault.

Paper title Power and Liberty
Paper code POLS301
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2021 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $913.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,073.40

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18 200-level POLS points or one of CHTH 231, GEND 201, GEND 208, PHIL 221, PHIL 227, PHIL 228, PHIL 234, PSYC 204
Schedule C
Arts and Music
An interest in national and international affairs is an advantage.
Teaching staff

To be confirmed when next offered

Paper Structure
The main purpose of this paper is to engage in a close and critical reading of primary texts by some of the most important political philosophers in the Western tradition. These are generally complex texts, and they require repeated reading - 2 to 3 times is the minimum required at any level of study. For this reason, additional time is allocated to work through the readings and to discuss them in class.

During the tutorial/study sessions, you will be divided into groups to discuss the week's reading. As such, you will be expected to take an active role in your own and your classmates' learning in this paper. Doing the readings - and coming to class armed with questions, insights and a collegial attitude - is essential for succeeding in this paper.

All readings available on Blackboard.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the development of modern political thought on the concepts of power and liberty

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Not offered in 2021

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system