Living Concepts: Political Thinkers of the Twentieth Century

Course content

The social transformations that took place within the context of decolonization and the cold war in the late twentieth century gave rise to a rich array of political ideas. We will explore the lives and texts of a diverse range of political thinkers who introduced innovative concepts into our political vocabulary. We will consider how the concepts these political thinkers articulated were shaped by the historical context in which they wrote, the broad ideological positions that they articulated and the idiosyncrasies associated with their individual biographies. While some of the thinkers we will examine have become canonical, we will also consider the work of others who are more often overlooked. The module will encourage close reading of some key political texts that have animated political action and influenced political reflection since their publication. It aims to provoke critical reflection by engaging with living concepts, which challenge conventional assumptions about the meaning, possibilities and limits of politics.


MSc in Political Science

MSc in Social Science

MSc in Security Risk Management

Bachelor in Political Science

Learning outcome


Upon completing this course, students will be able to identify and define key concepts in political thought and to understand the historical context in which they were articulated, including: super-exploitation, order, civility, the other, decolonization, banality of evil, authoritarian populism, survival, prison and abolition.



Students will be able to interpret the significane of ideas in political texts. They will learn how to analyse the meaning of political concepts within the biographical and historical context in which they were articulated.



Students will be able to evaluate complex ideas within historical context. They will learn to develop an argument, provide effective evidence for relevant claims made in support of that argument, and present the argument in clear and effective writing.

Lecture, student-led discussion, student presentations, and group work.

Claudia Jones, Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment, ed C Boyce Davis. Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2010.

Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, condensed version. London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 2005.

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, translated Constance Borde & Sheila Malovany-Chevallier. London: Penguin, 2015.

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, translated Richard Philcox. London: Penguin, 2021.

Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays. Carmel, IN: Liberty Fund, 1991.

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem

Stuart Hall, Selected Political Writings: The Great Moving Right Show and Other Essays, ed. Davidson et al. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider. London: Penguin, 2019.

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish. London: Penguin, 2020.

Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003.

Continuous feedback during the course
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Type of assessment details
Portfolio exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Department of Political Science, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Lars Tønder   (2-7a824e7774813c79833c7279)
Saved on the 31-10-2022

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