Introduction to Western Political Thought

By Prof. Mithilesh Kumar Jha   |   IIT Guwahati
Learners enrolled: 820
One of the major objectives of this course is to introduce the students to the key debates and ideas in Western political thought. It is hoped that familiarity with the ideas or concepts of some major western political thinkers will help the students to understand different perspectives and approaches to state, politics, government, sovereignty, citizenship and so on. It is also hoped that this course will enable the student to make sense of and interpret the major developments and key debates in the political debates and discussions in any contemporary society and polity.

UG and PG students of Humanities and Social Sciences, Sciences, and Engineering

INDUSTRIES  SUPPORT       : Not Applicable
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 12 weeks
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 3
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate
Start Date : 25 Jul 2022
End Date : 14 Oct 2022
Enrollment Ends : 08 Aug 2022
Exam Date : 29 Oct 2022 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1:Introduction: General Outline and Method; Text and Context
Week 2:Plato: Justice; Philosopher king; Communism; State
Week 3: Aristotle: Politics, Virtue
Week 4:Aristotle: State; Citizenship & Machiavelli: Virtu
Week 5:Machiavelli: Religion and Republicanism
Week 6:Hobbes: Human Nature; Political Obligation; Sovereignty
Week 7: Locke: Natural Rights; Limited government, Dissent
Week 8:Rousseau: Social Contract; General Will
Week 9:Kant: Enlightenment; Morality, autonomy and freedom
Week 10:Hegel: Freedom; Rights; State
Week 11: Marx: Historical Materialism; State; Class
Week 12:Mill: Utilitarianism and on Liberty

Books and references

1. T. Ball, (2004) ‘History and Interpretation’ in C. Kukathas and G. Gaus, (eds.) Handbook of Political Theory, London: Sage Publications Ltd. pp. 18-30.
2. B. Nelson, (2008) Western Political Thought. New York: Pearson Longman
3. Shefali Jha, (2010) Western Political Thought: From Plato to Marx, Delhi: Pearson
4. L. Strauss and J. Cropsey, (eds) History of Political Philosophy, 2ndEdition. Chicago: Chicago University Press
5. J. Coleman, (2000) A History of Political Thought: From Ancient Greece to Early Christianity, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers
6. A. Skoble and T. Machan, (2007) Political Philosophy: Essential Selections. New Delhi: Pearson Education
7. C. Macpherson (1962) The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Oxford University Press, Ontario
8. D. Boucher and P. Kelly, P. (eds) Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press
9. I. Kant. (1784) ‘What is Enlightenment?,’ available at http://theliterarylink.com/kant.html,

Instructor bio

Prof. Mithilesh Kumar Jha

IIT Guwahati
Dr. Mithilesh Kumar Jha teaches Political Science in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. His research interests are - political thought in comparative perspective particularly Indian and Western political thought, political theory, Indian politics especially language and related issues of state formations in modern India. His important publications are Language Politics and Public Sphere in North India: Making of the Maithili Movement, Oxford University Press, New Delhi (2018); Glimpses of Mithila and Maithili: The Correspondence of George Abraham Grierson, Kalyani Foundation: Darbhanga (2013).

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 29 October 2022 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 8 assignments out of the total 12 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Guwahati .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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