Undergraduate Modules

The Ethics of Political Leadership

This module investigates the ethics of political leadership via an engagement with the western tradition of political thought and contemporary analytical political theory. Its overall objective is to enable students to analyse and evaluate normative arguments on the significance and function of political leaders in contemporary politics. The module examines competing theories of leadership in their historical and intellectual contexts and a number of issues of contemporary ethical significance, including the problem of “dirty hands”, the nature of political integrity, and the ethics of political compromise. The approach is theoretical and philosophical and examples of political leaders will be used to highlight strengths and weaknesses of competing theories of leadership, and to emphasise their ideological assumptions and implications.

Third Year Module
Semester One
Module Code POL3149


  • 11 two-hour seminars


  • 2000 word essay
  • two-hour exam