Course Title: Critical Ideas in Contemporary Social and Political Theory

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Critical Ideas in Contemporary Social and Political Theory

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016,
Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021,
Sem 2 2022,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Dr Peter Phipps

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2039

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 37.5.20

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course focuses on critical ideas and concepts in contemporary social and political theory that might include globalization, power, identity, violence, gender, race, class, ethnicity, post-colonialism, human rights, nationalism, realism, liberalism, constructivism, cosmopolitanism and citizenship. You will explore a variety of methodological and historical perspectives on the generation, dissemination, and impact of critical ideas in diverse social and geographical contexts. You will be introduced to the ideas of some of the main social and political thinkers of our time and apply their insights and approaches to your professional and academic development. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Program Learning Outcomes 

In this course you will develop the following program learning outcomes:

  • Critically analyse, synthesise and reflect on knowledge about a rapidly changing world derived from multiple sources, perspectives and values systems.
  • Apply logical, critical and creative thinking to effectively solve a range of problems associat- ed with policies and programs in international and cross-cultural settings, and assess economic, cultural, social, environmental and political opportunities and risks.
  • Work professionally and effectively with others in diverse cultural, linguistic and organisational contexts, and to adapt practices and knowledge to local circumstances.
  • Assist in the identification of needs, the design, planning, resourcing and implementation of research and development projects in international and cross-cultural settings.

Course Learning Outcomes 

Upon successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  1. Reflect critically and independently on major issues in contemporary politics and society. 
  2. Critically discuss perspectives and arguments of seminal contemporary social and political thinkers. 
  3. Evaluate and apply key theoretical constructs to your own work. 
  4. Explore the connection between theory and practice in the contemporary global world. 
  5. Formulate theory- informed arguments in the context of class debates on current affairs and the great social and political problems the world faces.
  6. Identify and reflect upon connections between theory and practice in contemporary globalisation. 

Overview of Learning Activities

Class lectures will be complemented by tutorial discussions. 

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. 

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal. 

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. Assessment tasks may include in-class presentations, and an essay. 

Assessment Tasks

Assessment 1 - short answer questions on first 4 weeks of the course- 20%, CLO2, CLO3, CLO6 

Assessment 2- Argumentative Essay- 40%, CLO1, CLO4, CLO5, CLO6 

Assessment 3- Take Home Exam- 40%, CLO2, CLO4, CLO5, CLO6. 

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.   

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more. 

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions.