MO3049 Political Thought From Machiavelli to Tocqueville
Lecturer Professor R. Whatmore
Credits 30
Availability Semester 1, 2017-18
Class Hour view timetable


This module will provide in depth study of particular figures both major and minor in the history of early modern to modern political thought in Europe, and a sense of some of the most significant contexts through which to understand political writings at a time of near-constant political, religious and economic upheaval. The focus of the course will be the long eighteenth century because it was during this period that longstanding controversy came to a head about empire, forms of government, sciences of human endeavour and morals more especially, commercial society, public credit, the possibility of perpetual peace, and the existence of nation states. The course begins with Machiavelli’s call for an ‘empire for increase’ modelled on that of Ancient Rome, and ends with Tocqueville’s claim that the future for all European states could be discerned from the development of equality in North America.


Basic Reading

Course Structure

1. Machiavelli and republican empire
2. Bodin and the nature of sovereignty
3. Lipsius and reason of state theory OR Grotius and commercial empire
4. Hobbes and the Christian polity
5. Pufendorf and the German Empire
6. Hume and the future of Europe OR Montesquieu and comparative politics
7. Fénelon and Mandeville: Commercial society and war and peace OR Adam Smith: governments and markets
8. Rousseau and comparative politics OR Edmund Burke and the French Revolution
9. Bentham: the science of utility OR Saint-Simon and socialism



40% two hour examination
60% coursework

  • Book review - 1000-1250 words (10%)
  • Two essays - 2500-3000 words each (20% each)
  • Oral presentation - 10-15 minutes (10%)
Learning Outcomes  
Restrictions MO3019