POLIS 2106 - Justice, Virtue and the Good

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2018

The aim of this course is to teach you about political theory, and its function and place within the discipline of political science. We do this by reading, analysing and criticising the arguments made by some of the great political theorists in the Western tradition and by exploring some of the most controversial debates in political theory. The theorists we read and study include: Socrates, Plato, the Stoics, the Epicureans, John Locke, Adam Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Will Kymlicka, Peter Singer and Susan Moller-Okin. We also look at controversial debates including the ethics of abortion, whether it is acceptable to compel people to vote and whether or not we have moral obligations to strangers. The emphasis in this course in on argument. We look at the arguments raised by each of these theorists and the evidence they use in support of the claims they make. We also learn how political theory can resolve some of the tensions and ambiguities around real life issues.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code POLIS 2106
    Course Justice, Virtue and the Good
    Coordinating Unit Politics and International Relations
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of Level I undergraduate study
    Incompatible POLI 2009, POLI 2106, POLI 3009
    Assessment 3000 word essay (60%), 1500 word minor essay (30%), tutorial participation (10%)
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Lisa Hill

    Dr Tiziana Torresi
    Napier 413
    Telephone: 8313 5606
    Email: tiziana.torresi@adelaide.edu.au
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate:
    1 An ability to understand key ideas in Western political thought

    2 An ability to think critically about debates in contemporary political theory.
    3 Enhanced skills in research, synthesis, organisation and presentation of information
    4 Enhanced problem solving skills
    5 Familiarisation with the research skills necessary for working with primary sources
    6 An ability to work independently
    7 An ability to articulate interpretations of sources and topics in class discussion
    8 An ability to critically evaluate arguments
    University Graduate Attributes

    No information currently available.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    A reading kit will be prepared and available for sale in the first week of term.

    Online Learning
    Course material and lecture slides will be posted on myuni

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    There will be two lectures per week and one tutorial during which issues covered in
    lectures will be linked to tutorial discussions.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students will need to devote approximately 8 hours per week to this course (divided over 12 weeks of study). This consists of 2 x 1-hour lectures and one tutorial per week, and 5 hours per week of independent study, during which time students will prepare for tutorials and work on assignments.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The following lecture topics are indicative only and subject to change. Course material is constantly being updated and revised to incorporate the latest scholarship and topics of debate.
    1. Introduction to Course
      Plato and Aristotle
    2. Epicureanism and Stoicism
    3. The Cosmopolitan Tradition
      The Christian Tradition
    4. Machiavelli and Hobbes
      The Enlightenment
    5. Adam Smith
      Mary Wollstonecraft
    6. John Stuart Mill
      Friedrich Nietzsche
    7. Karl Marx
      The Liberal Tradition
    8. The Multiculturalism Debate:Will Kymlicka and Susan Moller Okin
    9. Free Speech in an Age of Terror
      Rights in an Age of Terror
    10. The Pornography Debate
    11. The Abortion Debate
    12. The Issue of Global Obligations; Course Summary

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Tutorial Participation: 10% of overall grade
    Minor Essay: 30%
    Major Essay: 60%
    Assessment Detail

    To pass this course, you must:attend at least 75% of tutorials and participate in an informed and thoughtful manner in class discussions;complete tutorial notes;complete minor exercise;complete and pass a major essay.

    Tutorial participation – 10%
    Students are required to attend and participate in tutorials.  This entails attending and contributing meaningfully to the discussion.Each student will be required to lead the discussion at one tutorial.  This will count towards the tutorial participation grade. In general, students who attend 75% of tutorials and lead a tutorial can expect to get a pass grade on this element of assessment.  Higher grades will depend on participation

    Minor essay  – 30%  
    Choose a short extract (minimum one paragraph, maximum 5 pages) from one of the readings in the course book.  Your selected extract must be from one of the primary theorists studied i.e. Socrates, Plato, the Stoics, the Epicureans, Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith, Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, John Rawls, Will Kymlicka, Peter Singer and Susan Moller Okin.

    Identify the writer's main arguments, and describe the evidence she or he uses to support the arguments.  Critically assess the writer's arguments.

    Check your extract with your tutor to ensure your extract is suitable.  Your answer should have full referencing and a bibliography.  The emphasis in this exercise is on analysing an argument, so it is important to spend time thinking about the extract.Your critical assessment of the writer's arguments can be either positive or negative.

    Word limit: 1500

    Major essay – 60%
    Write an essay of 2,500 words on one of the topics listed in the course handout.

    A hardcopy of the essay must to be submitted BEFORE 12pm (noon) on/before the due date.  An identical electronic copy must also be submitted to Turnitin and the Originality Report attached to the hard copy of the essay. This protocol will ensure that a copy of your essay will not go missing.

    Extensions will be given on the grounds of hardship or illness. If, as often happens, several essays are due close to each other, you should plan your schedule so that you complete one or more before the deadline. Applications for an extension should be made in writing and submitted to your tutor well before the date that the assignment is due.

    Students who submit an essay late, without having gained an extension, will be liable to a penalty of 2 marks per day that the essay is overdue, including weekends, for a maximum of two weeks. Unless special arrangements have been made, essays more than two weeks late, may not be accepted, and will automatically be eligible for a pass or fail grade only.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
    The School of Social Sciences is committed to upholding the University's policy on Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S). All staff and students have a legal responsibility to act in the interests of themselves and others with respect to OH&S. For information on the School's contingency plan and emergency procedures, please see the OH&S section on the school website: http://www.arts.adelaide.edu.au/socialsciences/hsw
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.