Political Theory

Graduate seminars in Political Theory cover a wide array of areas in the field, with particular strengths in the history of western political theory [Classical, Early Modern, Late Modern]; American and African-American political thought; critical theory; historical, contemporary, and normative democratic theory; feminist theory; and comparative political theory. 

Research and Studies in Political Theory

We strongly advise first field graduate students in political theory to take all three of the regularly offered seminars in the history of political theory (Polisci 461, 462, 463) in order to become well versed in modes of interpretation of the canonical texts of the discipline. Students are also expected to be familiar with diverse approaches in contemporary (Anglophone and Continental) political theory and conversant in specific thinkers and texts. Recent seminars on these topics include Marxism and Pragmatism; Frankfurt School Critical Theory; Black Political Thought; Political Realism; and courses on specific thinkers, e.g. Aristophanes; Plato; Aristotle; Hobbes; Locke; Marx; Dewey; Nietzsche; Arendt; Foucault. We’ll soon add to our roster seminars in Early Chinese Political Thought and Global Democratic Theory.

The Comprehensive Examination in Political Theory

At the start of their first year graduate students with first field specializations in political theory receive a set of subfield study guidelines and expectations to help them prepare for the comprehensive examination, given in the Fall Quarter of their third year. The examination consists of three parts, a broadly thematic question; an interpretive question based on a text of the student’s own choosing; and seminar material. Students pursuing political theory as a second field are expected to take at least two seminars in the history sequence plus three others, earning a B+ or higher in each course. Whether first or second field, all graduate students in political theory are encouraged to consult regularly with the faculty Field Chair and their faculty Advisor as they pursue their studies in the program.  Information about the exam format can be found here.

Political Theory Faculty and Students’ activities include:

Faculty and Graduate Students