Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon


    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 modern and contemporary political thought.

    About this paper

    Paper title Power and Liberty
    Subject Politics
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    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 theories of power and liberty.

    Teaching staff

    To be confirmed when paper is next offered.

    Paper Structure

    1 x 2 hour lecture and discussion; 1 x 50 minute tutorials


    All readings will be available on e-reserve via Blackboard.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Global perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete this paper will gain:

    • an in-depth understanding of theories of power and liberty in modern and contemporary political theory,
    • advanced skills in critical analysis, argumentation, research and writing.


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system
    Back to top