We study Politics to understand the relationship between the state and the individual; essentially, why we came to establish governments, how we believe it is best to govern, and why the theories we use to explore those two questions so rarely coincide with the answers we use in practice.
“The penalty for failure to engage in Politics is that you will be ruled by your inferiors.”
Plato, The Republic
Politics, the study of the institutions and ideologies concerned with how best to live, has dominated Western discourse since the work of Plato.
We study Politics to engage in the historic and contemporary debates about how human society should govern itself. From the roots of tyranny, oligarchy and direct democracy in Ancient Greece, through to the rise of neo-nationalist organisations such as UKIP, the debate about the relationship between the citizen and the state has been analysed and the results of those analyses have been implemented with varying success.
At HWSF, the Department of Politics asks you to consider these questions for yourself: do you believe the government has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence? Are all humans equal by virtue of their common humanity? Alongside these “big questions” of political philosophy we will consider modern British Politics from an institutional and organisational perspective. The death of Old Labour with the removal of clause 4, neo-liberalism in the policies of David Cameron and major institutions such as Parliament, the Judiciary and the office of the Prime Minister will all be studied.
Outside the classroom, the opportunities for engagement in the political world are manifest. Students have already taken the chance to independently wander over and watch debates in Parliament, heard some world renounced politicians speak at our events, and engaged in a Cultural Perspectives course looking at the history of Political Thought. The Supreme Court is moments away too, where students can watch the highest court in England make decisions on the key legal battles of the present day.