Normative Political Theory & Philosophy

This field interprets, critiques, and constructs philosophical conceptions and arguments concerning morally appropriate and prudent standards and purposes for political actors and regimes. Topics include historically influential theories, the genealogy of political ideas, democratic theory, and contemporary theories of legitimacy, identity, ethics, the good society, and social justice.

First Field

  • 6 courses selected from the Normative Political Theory and Political Philosophy listing

Students work with the Field Director to develop an individualized curriculum, and will generally take all the Normative Political Theory and Political Philosophy courses over a period of three years. There are also designated courses that count among the theory courses, courses in the law school, courses in religious studies, psychology and other departments.

Qualifying Procedure

You will take a written and oral exam no later than September 30 of the third year of your graduate study. The written and oral examinations will assess whether or not you have attained a firm command of the literature in this field.

Preliminary Examination

Each students who passes the qualifying procedure in Normative Political Theory & Political Philosophy is required to submit and present for defense before a committee of faculty in that field an original, plausibly publishable research paper on a relevant topic. The paper must be submitted no later than the end of the first semester of your third semester of graduate study. The committee administering the preliminary examination may pass a student with distinction on the basis of both your performance in the qualifying procedure and in your paper presentation and defense.

Second Field

  • 4 courses selected from the Normative Political Theory and Political Philosophy listing

Field Requirements


Participate in the workshop for post-prelim students focused on writing academic articles.



Course Number Title Crosslisting Numbers
POLSCI 502S Understanding Ethical Crisis in Organizations ETHICS 562S, SOCIOL 542S, PUBPOL 558S
POLSCI 516S Rule of Law
POLSCI 573S Intellectual History and Political Theory HISTORY 541S
POLSCI 574S Dissent, Disobedience and Revolution
POLSCI 575S Ancient Political Philosophy CLST 571S, PHIL 571, Ethics Courses Offered Through Other Departments
POLSCI 576 Politics and Philosophy of Self and Other
POLSCI 577S Nietzsche's Political Philosophy GERMAN 576S, PHIL 537S
POLSCI 578S Contemporary Theories of Liberal Democracy Study of Ethics
POLSCI 579S Topics in Early Modern Political Thought from Machiavelli to Mills PHIL 566S
POLSCI 580S Social Theory and Social Practice
POLSCI 581S Heidegger PHIL 573S
POLSCI 582S Contemporary Ethical Theories PHIL 503S, Women's Studies
POLSCI 583S Thucydides and the Realist Tradition
POLSCI 584S Modern Political Theory Study of Ethics
POLSCI 585S Adversarial Ethics PHIL 510S
POLSCI 586S Political Thought in the United States Study of Ethics
POLSCI 587S Free Speech, Hate Speech, and Civil Disobedience
POLSCI 675S Economy, Society, and Morality in Eighteenth-Century Thought ECON 547S
POLSCI 676S Hegel's Political Philosophy PHIL 536S, GERMAN 575S
POLSCI 677S Contemporary Continental Political Thought
POLSCI 678S Democracy and Constitutionalism
POLSCI 681S Law and Philosophy
POLSCI 690-1 Advanced Topics in Political Theory
POLSCI 690S-1 Advanced Topics in Political Theory
POLSCI 708 Democracy and the Rule of Law
POLSCI 788 Workshop in Normative Political Theory and Political Philosophy I
POLSCI 789 Workshop in Normative Political Theory and Political Philosophy II
POLSCI 890-1 Political Theory

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