University of Florida Homepage

Political Theory

Political theorists explore the foundations of political life and deliberate about its proper organization. To study political theory is to develop the analytic and interpretive skills, the moral and philosophic judgment, and the social and historical knowledge needed to critically assess and creatively contribute to a tradition of political thought that dates back over two millennia.

Faculty expose students to the major figures and texts in the tradition of political thought, the moral and epistemological foundations and methods of political theory, the ideological features of politics, current controversies in political thought, and enduring topics of concern such as the nature of equality, liberty, justice and power. Within the broad confines of this curriculum, students selecting theory as one of their fields are given considerable room to define their own avenues of research.

Political theorists in the department have particular interests in continental political philosophy, democratic theory, environmental ethics and sustainability politics, the history of British, American and European political thought, liberalism, and various concerns in contemporary political thought, including the impact of science and technology and current transformations of capitalism and the welfare state. Faculty employ historically informed, interdisciplinary methods and perspectives to explore how gendered, racial, social, political, technological and ecological identities are shaped and contested in a globalizing world of rapid change.

First Field Requirements

Summary of First Field Requirements (5 courses for a total of 15 credits)

Five seminars from the list below — at least one seminar must be taken in each Section, and it is highly recommended that the five seminars be relatively evenly distributed between the Sections.

Field Examination

Written component: answer three questions

Oral defense: scheduled after written component

Comprehensive Exam Reading List

Committee Selection

Following department guidelines, the exam committee will consist of the dissertation chair and two other members to be randomly drawn among available faculty in the field (i.e., those not on leave or sabbatical). One of the two other members may be chosen by the field chair to reflect substantive expertise where deemed necessary, and the field chair may also consider recusals of particular faculty on request.

Examination Questions

Section I: Question on the History of Political Thought

Section II: Question on Contemporary Theorists and Current Controversies

Section III: Pertaining to student’s specific area of dissertation research. It is the responsibility of first field students to speak with their Field Chairs in the semester prior to their comprehensive examination to ensure that their area of dissertation research is familiar to the Political Theory faculty

The prescribed length for each response is 2500-3000 words.  Examiners are not required to read beyond the 3000-word limit, and will be justified in making their evaluations accordingly.

Second Field Requirements

Summary of Second Field Requirements (3 courses for a total of 9 credits)

Three seminars from the list below — at least one seminar must be taken in each Section.

Field Examination

Written component: answer two questions

Oral defense: scheduled after written component

Comprehensive Exam Reading List

Committee Selection

For second field exams, committee chair does not have to be student’s dissertation chair.  Following department guidelines, the exam committee will consist of one member chosen by the field chair to reflect a substantive expertise of the student, and two other members randomly drawn among available faculty in the field.

Examination Questions

Section I: Question on the History of Political Thought

Section II: Question on Contemporary Theorists and Current Controversies

The prescribed length for each of your responses is 2500-3000 words.  Examiners are not required to read beyond the 3000-word limit, and will be justified in making their evaluations accordingly.

Third Field Requirements (Legacy)

Summary of Third Field Requirements (2 courses for a total of 6 credits)

POT 6505: Politics and Theory & one additional seminar from list below.

Courses that Satisfy Field Requirements

Section A – The History of Political Thought

POT 6016: Ancient Political Thought

POT 6056: Modern Political Thought

POT 6933: American Political Thought

POT 6416: The Marxist Tradition and Its Critics

Section B – Contemporary Theorists and Current Controversies

POT 6067: Contemporary Political Theory

POT 6314: Democratic Theory

POT 6306: Liberalism and Its Critics

POT 6516: Political Judgment

POT 6933: Politics and Technology

POT 6505: Politics and Theory