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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Undergraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2011
Coordinator(s)Dr Paul Muldoon and Dr Michael Janover


Previously coded PLT2090


This unit seeks to illuminate the current crisis of humanity by looking at the work of three key figures in recent political theory - Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Each of these theorists has interrogated the relationship between politics and barbarism at the most profound level and attempted to salvage a concept of humanity from the catastrophes of the twentieth century. Pivoting around themes of truth, freedom and power, their work draws us back to fundamental questions about the purposes and possibilities of politics as a human endeavour. Engaging with them will help to shed light on what might be hoped for human beings, individually and collectively, in the future.


On successful completion of this unit students at levels 2 and 3 will be able to:

  1. understand debates about humanism and anti-humanism in politics and political theory
  2. compare and contrast key political ideas of the three theorists studied in the unit: Arendt, Foucault, Derrida
  3. display developing skills of spoken and written communication in addressing questions of politics and humanism
  4. summarise and analyse passages of text (including visual documentary text) that raise issues and ideas in political theory
  5. understand and analyse the relationship between politics and ethics in the writings of political theorists In addition, students taking this unit at level three will be able to:
  6. critically reflect on political theory as an attempt to explain the meaning and advance the possibility of human freedom


Tutorial presentation: 10%
Written work: 60% (3000 words)
2 Hours exam: 30%

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Dennis Woodward

Contact hours

1 one-hour lecture and a one-hour tutorial per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

International studies


First year sequence in politics