Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL2028: Political Ethics: Theory and Case Studies

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:


  1. Introduction to political ethics: a perennial problem
  2. Putting morality into politics, taking morality out of politics: the case of Machiavelli
  3. The ‘ethic of conviction’ and the ‘ethic of responsibility’: moral guides to politics
  4. Lying in politics
  5. The question of integrity
  6. Personal vs. political conduct
  7. Moral traditions and politics
  8. Monism, pluralism, relativism and political conduct
  9. The problem of ‘dirty hands’: three literary accounts
  10. Just war and ‘whistle blowing’

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity2211 x 2 hours sessions with a mix of formal lecture, collective discussion and group presentations
Guided Independent Learning 128A variety of private study tasks directed by the module leader. These tasks may include (with an indicative number of hours):

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).

Indicative list of web based and electronic resources:

-          Lynne McFall, ’Integrity’, Ethics, Vol. 98, No. 1 (October 1987), 5-20.

-          Michael Walzer, ‘Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Winter, 1973), 160-180

Other Learning Resources

Other resources:

A number of newspaper articles and reports will be available for some topics related to the case studies on the module website as appropriate.