Arguing Against Tyranny

School: School of Government
Department of Political Science and International Studies

Modular value: 20 credits
Term long 
Contact Hours: 
3 hours per week

Lecturer: Richard Shorten

This module considers the theoretical resources available to both citizens and scholars to ‘argue against tyranny’.  For the purposes of the module, ‘tyranny’ is understood as a catch-all term which refers to any type of political regime as may be experienced as illegitimate and oppressive: the conceptual vocabulary which is most appropriate to different situations is one issue itself scrutinised.  The module is theory-driven, but explicitly uses theories having been developed historically to address present-day, ‘real-world’ applications.  As such, the module puts under the spotlight the following sorts of problem.  Do tyrannies rest on coercion or consent?  Do they seek to kill people, or simply to control them?  Are tyrants ‘evil’?  And must revolutions end in tyranny?

On successful completion on the module, students will demonstrate an ability to:

  • Describe a large number of theoretical positions concerning ‘tyranny’
  • Explain the arguments that lie beneath these positions
  • Evaluate the persuasiveness of the arguments themselves
  • Apply at least some of the theories to one or more case-studies


  • 25% Book Report (Oral)
  • 75% 3000 Word Essay