Course Summary
Credit Type:
Organization's ID:
Self-Paced (120 hours)
Dates Offered:
Credit Recommendation & Competencies
Level Credits (SH) Subject
Lower-Division Baccalaureate 3 political science


The course objective is to examine major texts in Western political thought, where authors pose difficult questions about the political community, social order, and human nature. How do our views about human nature and history inform government design? We explore how Plato, Machiavelli, and Rousseau, responded and how these philosophers contributed to the broader conversation about human needs, goods, justice, democracy, and the ever-changing relationship between the citizen and the state.

Learning Outcomes:

  • summarize the passage of political thought through the classical, Renaissance, and Enlightenment periods based on the works of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and Marx
  • compare and contrast the differences between Plato and Aristotle with regard to their understandings of the nature of the person, ethics, society, citizenship, and governance
  • explain the historical and intellectual context in which the political thought that helped to develop the modern state came to be
  • compare and contrast the concepts of justice, freedom, equality, citizenship, and sovereignty in the works of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau
  • explain the different versions of, and importance of, the state of nature to political thought
  • identify the influences of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau on the development of the United States Constitution
  • summarize the thoughts of Alexis de Tocqueville on the American political landscape, particularly with regard to religion and equality, and why this has importance beyond the American context
  • explain Karl Marx's worldview, with particular regard to his critique of democracy and the modern, politically liberal state, how it came to be, and its fundamental link to capitalism
  • explain John Stuart Mill's theory on utilitarianism and how he applies it to society and the state

General Topics:

  • The polis
  • Modern political thought
  • Liberal democracy and its critics
Instruction & Assessment

Instructional Strategies:

  • Audio Visual Materials
  • Lectures
  • Practical Exercises

Methods of Assessment:

  • Examinations
  • Other
  • proctored final exam

Minimum Passing Score:

Supplemental Materials