FIL2311 – Political Philosophy

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Course content

Political philosophy concerns how to organize relations among individuals who are members of societies. The following type of issues are central: How can individuals retain their freedom when they submit to political authority? How can the authority of the state be justified, and what should be its limits? What is a just distribution of goods and burdens? What is the role of public deliberation in democratic decision-making? Do individuals possess rights merely in virtue of their humanity? Important contributions have been made by philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Mill, Marx, Arendt, Rawls and Habermas.

Political philosophy is sometimes closely related to ethics, but many political philosophers seek justifications for principles that reflect what is unique in political life. On an expansive conception of political philosophy it includes legal philosophy and social philosophy. The course might have a special focus on either the history of political philosophy or systematic approaches to political philosophy at different semesters.

Learning outcome

After having completed the examination, you will

  • be able to demonstrate a thorough insight in problems of political philosophy, and also be able to discuss different views critically in writing
  • be able to give a precise and argumentative oral presentation of a central problem in political philosophy
  • be able to demonstrate an overview of differences, similarities and connections between different views within political philosophy, and also be able to give critical assessments of the different views


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

We recommend that you complete FIL1003 - Introduction to ethics before signing up for this course.


12 double sessions which are a combination of lectures and seminars.

The course has the following compulsory tuition activities:

  •  Weekly participation in Canvas: each week you are required to post a question related to the readings of that session.

  • An oral presentation of a question/problem regarding one of the readings in the syllabus. Depending on how many students enroll in the course, the presentations will be in groups.

  • An obligatory draft of the final essay.

All the obligatory tuition activities must be accepted as satisfactory in order to be able to hand in the term paper. The activities are only valid the semester they are completed.

How to apply for valid absence from obligatory activity / mandatory presence


A term paper of 10 pages à 2300 characters (approximately 3800 words in total) excl bibliography and footnotes. The paper is to be submitted in Inspera by the deadline indicated on the semester pages.

When you write a term paper you are entitled to receive individual tutoring. However, this requires that you submit a draft to your teacher. An exact deadline for handing in the draft will be given by the teacher during the seminar.

Assessment guidelines fall 2019


Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course

Autumn 2023
Autumn 2020
Autumn 2019

Unfortunately, this course will not be offered in the fall 2022.

Autumn 2023
Autumn 2020
Autumn 2019

Unfortunately, this course will not be offered in the fall 2022.

Teaching language