Academic year
2022/2023 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LT9043 (AF:385486 AR:201242)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Bachelor's Degree Programme
Educational sector code
4th Term
Course year
Go to Moodle page
The aims of the course are consistent with PISE’s overall purposes, insofar they intend to promote and further the following abilities:
To know in general the fundamental themes and problems of the Western political tradition, its roots, its legacies, and the developments brought about by contemporary debate
To understand the historical and cultural paths of Western political thinking
To relate the main issues of western political thought with their historical and cultural context
Having completed the course, students will be familiar with a variety of positions and concerns within democratic and anti-democratic theories, as well as their major thinkers. Students are expected to:
Be familiar with the principal theoretical topics in the study of Modern Western political thought;
Connect the main political issues with their historical and cultural context
Compare different thinkers and identify their differences and consistencies regarding similar topics;
Examine current debates in such fields as democracy, antipolitics; populism.
Have developed key skills relating to: an understanding of substantive and conceptual issues, and scholarly debates; an ability to analyse different theoretical positions;
No prior familiarity with the specific subject matter is necessary but a previous course in modern and contemporary history is advisable
Main Topics:
The foundations of Modern political thought;
Social contract theories;
Revolutionary and counter-revolutionary thought;
Conservatism; Constitutionalism
Liberalism, democracy and imperialism at the turn of the XXth century;
Marxism, socialism, social democracy
Fascisms and Communism: challenges to liberal democracy
Christian Democracy;
Antipolitics; Populism.
Referral texts for attending and non-attending students.

Please consider that, as long as the "dual" mode is applied for classes due to Covid restrictions, and recordings are made available on moodle to registered students during the first semester, all students are considered "attending" for the January exams. "Non-attending" students are therefore allowed only for the June and September exams.

Students attending classes will be provided with selected essays from:
Q. Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, CUP;
The Cambridge History of Political Thought, Cambridge University Press, 2008
Other texts presented and commented upon during classes.

Students not attending classes will contact the teacher to agree upon a special program. They will be provided with a different selection of essays
The oral test is aimed to prove the achievement of the above mentioned didactical purposes. More specifically, the first question checks the mastery of a well defined topic’s outline, the ability to frame it in its historical background, and to express oneself clearly and effectively; the second question checks the command of advanced theoretical notions, the proficiency in operating interrelations among them and the ability to conceptualize; the third checks the ability to analyze and comment quotations from selected authors.
The course is constituted by academic lectures combined with selected readings of key literature and authors. All sources and documents commented upon during classes will be uploaded on Moodle.
Please consider that this is a "slides-free" course: that is, slides that summarise the main concepts dealt with in class will not be provided. One reason is that the skill of taking class notes is a highly specialised but underrated one, and MA students are thus encouraged to practise it. The other reason is that texts and sources will be presented and commented upon during classes, and students are warmly invited to actively participate with their contributions, instead of relying on pre-assembled outlines.
Disclaimer: please check Ca' Foscari policy for academic activity during Covid-19 emergency
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 05/09/2022