Student Pages
Undergraduate course

Introduction to the History of Political Ideas

Main content

Level of Study


Teaching semester


Place of Instruction


Objectives and Content

History of political ideas is about ideas, theories and traditions in the western history of political ideas from antiquity to the present. In addition to the ideas, focus is also on the social and historical context in which these ideas were developed.

The students are introduced to European history of political ideas from antiquity to the present. We present main positions such as the natural law tradition, contract theory and political realism.

The subject provides the students with foundational knowledge on the history of political ideas. It enables students to understand and communicate the central ideas in the field and provides a basis against which they can form an opinion on many contemporary political issues.

Learning Outcomes


A general overview of the most important theories and debates in the history of political ideas from antiquity to the present.

Insight sufficient to identify the most important arguments in favor of and against democracy.


Upon completion of the course the students are expected to:

- Recognize and critically evaluate the major philosophical positions and ideologies both in philosophical literature and more generally.

- Communicate parts of these major philosophical positions and ideologies both to the general public and to peers within the field.

- Evaluate the relevance of topics, concepts and arguments from these major philosophical positions for political thinking as well as for the general public.


Upon completion of the course the students are expected:

- To be able to come up with and understand important literature within the history of political ideas, and to communicate the substance of this literature to the general public as well as to academic peers.

- To use and evaluate the relevance of concepts, arguments and methods from the major philosophical positions and the ideologies introduced in the course, both to peers and to the general public.

- To recognize and to critically evaluate types of argumentation in academic and general texts based on the knowledge the subject conveys.

The course provides a basis for further studies aimed at the bachelor's degree with a specialisation in philosophy. In combination with other courses the student will be eligible for the teaching of philosophy in secondary school or upper secondary school. The course may also be suitable to support specialization in fundamental questions in connection with the study of other subjects.

Recommended Previous Knowledge

It is recommended that students have completed the subjects of EXPHIL-HFEKS, EXFAC00AS and EXFAC00TKEKS / EXFAC00TKSEM. A good proficiency in English is necessary since it ought to be assumed that much of the prescribed reading will be in English.

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap

FIL107 overlap with IDH201 (The History of Political Ideas), FIL237 (The History of Political Ideas) and FIL337 (Master Topic in the History of Political Ideas)

Access to the Course

The course is open to students admitted at the University of Bergen.

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching is offered in the form of lectures and/or seminars.

The number of gatherings may be reduced if the number of students attending the course is less than 4. In that case, the students will be compensated with individual or group tutoring.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

No compulsory requirements

Forms of Assessment

The exam is a four hour school exam. No aids are allowed during the exam.

Exams in the course are held every semester.

Grading Scale

From A to F

Reading List

The curriculum includes texts concerning the History of Political Ideas, theories and debates. The curriuculum also includes primary texts.

Course Evaluation

The teaching is evaluated according to the quality assurance system of the University of Bergen.

Contact Information

Exam information

  • For written exams, please note that the start time may change from 09:00 to 15:00 or vice versa until 14 days prior to the exam.

  • Type of assessment: Written examination

    20.11.2023, 09:00
    4 hours
    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam