Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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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 course you are expected to

  • have a good knowledge of the core texts for the course
  • be able to acquire knowledge of and critically relate to the latest research contributions within the topic of the course
  • be able to discuss the problems addressed in the course in a critical and professional manner, both orally and in writing
  • be able to write an essay within the given frames answering a precise question in such a way that the essay has a clear and self-developed argumentative structure and demonstrates an updated acquaintance of the field


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.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

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

Requires admission to the Master's programme in philosophy.


Recommended previous knowledge

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with FIL4350 – Political philosophy


12 double sessions with seminar.

Compulsory tuition activities:

  • Mandatory presence at the seminars (you must be present a minimum of 9 out of 12 times). We expect active participation in class discussions from all the students.
  • An obligatory draft of the first essay which you submit in Canvas.
  • An oral critical presentation of one of the readings in the syllabus. Depending on how many students enrol in the course, the presentations might be in groups.
  • Weekly participation in Canvas (the details will be explained in the course handout and during the first session)

All the obligatory tuition activities must be accepted as satisfactory in order to be able to hand in the portfolio. The activities are only valid for one semester.

This is how you apply for a valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance <>.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


A portfolio exam which consists of two essays of around 6 pages/2300 words each (literature list not included) which is to be submitted in Inspera.The topics must be approved of by the teacher.

When you write an essay you are entitled to receive individual tutoring. However, this requires that you submit a draft. This is also a requirement - for the first essay - in order to be able hand in the exam.

Please be aware that all compulsory tuition activities must be accepted as satisfactory to qualify for the exam.

Evaluation criteria spring 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

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or 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






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language

Norwegian (English on request)