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Issues in contemporary social and political philosophy

Building on the philosophy postgraduate foundation module, this module explores issues with a significance that extends far beyond the boundaries of academic philosophy. You’ll look at distributive justice, liberalism versus communitarianism and the metaphysics of social explanation – and go on to examine citizenship, nationalism, punishment and democracy in the light of these themes. You’ll develop your ability to analyse philosophical texts; reflect on the process of philosophical research; and hone your skills in finding and using material. You’ll also be required to show greater independence of thought and the ability to put across a coherent case for a philosophical position.

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Start End England fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015 £1760.00

Registration closes 12/12/14 (places subject to availability)

Click to register
30 Jan 2016 Oct 2016 Not yet available

Registration opens on 12/03/15

This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.

What you will study

This philosophy subject module in the MA in Humanities programme develops the skills introduced in the philosophy postgraduate foundation module. We have selected the area of contemporary social and political philosophy both for its intrinsic philosophical interest and for its relationship to issues outside academic philosophy. A851 consists of a set of readings accompanied by commentary. The areas covered by the readings are:

  • The philosophy of social explanation
  • Distributive justice
  • Liberalism and communitarianism
  • Citizenship
  • Nationalism
  • Democracy
  • Punishment

You will study the first three topics in detail, and then choose one (or more) of the other four in which to focus on in your final project. For your project you will be expected to discuss problems related to your selected topic, in the light of your study of the first three themes.

Like the foundation module, this module makes extensive use of information technology. Tutorials are online, and support is provided by online forums and the extensive online resources of The Open University library. You will have opportunities to discuss the module with your tutor and your fellow students via online forums. Extensive technical backup is available, so there should be no problems even for those whose experience of using computers is limited. You need only have access to a computer, not to own one.

Entry

To take this module, you must declare the MA in Philosophy (F30) (or another qualification towards which this module can count) as your qualification intention. You should also have taken one of the MA in Humanities postgraduate foundation modules (or you could take one at the same time as this module, though we would not normally recommend that). If you wish to gain the MA in Philosophy you will need to take the the Postgraduate foundation module in philosophy (A850). If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

We recommend reading one or more of:

Will Kymlicka (2001) Contemporary Political Philosophy, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press

Stephen Mulhall, Adam Swift (2000) Liberals and Communitarians, 2nd edition, Blackwell

Robert Goodin, Philip Pettit (eds) (1997) Contemporary Political Philosophy, Blackwell

The MA website gives information about the topics in the module and suggests further readings.

Qualifications

A851 is a compulsory module in our:

A851 is an optional module in our:

If you leave the programme before obtaining a masters degree and have successfully completed an additional 60 credits from specified modules, including at least 30 credits from postgraduate foundation modules, you can qualify for a Postgraduate Diploma.

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

This module makes extensive use of the internet and online forums, so you may need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer. The study materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.

Study materials

What's included

Module books and other printed materials.

D. C. Matravers, J. E. Pike (eds) (2002) Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy, Routledge.

There are real time online tutorials, and further support is provided by online forums and the extensive online resources of The Open University library.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2008 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.7 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Rawls, John A Theory of Justice (1999 Revised Edition) Harvard University Press £16.95 - ISBN 9780674000780
  • Simon, R J (ed) The Blackwell Guide to Social and Political Philosophy Blackwell £28.99 - ISBN 9780631221272

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. The module will be taught by means of real time online tutorials and online forums. We may be able to offer opportunities to attend research day conferences in the subject area that you are encouraged, but not obliged to attend. Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in February 2015. We expect it to be available at the same time once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Distance learning

The Open University is the world's leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you're at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you'll be supported throughout your studies - your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information about distance learning at the OU read Study explained.

Course facts
About this course:
Course code A851
Credits 60
OU Level Postgraduate
SCQF level 11
FHEQ level 7
Course work includes:
4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Student Reviews

“A851 constitutes a smooth step-up in gear from A850 with greater opportunities for independent research, especially in respect of the...”
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“Pro: A great course with excellent content. Demanding however - so the usual H&S caveat of required multiple readings of...”
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