Curriculum and course description
- History of Political Philosophy
- Contemporary Political Philosophy
- Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods in Social Sciences and Humanities
- Digital technologies in social research and humanities
- Academic Writing (I and II)
- Theory of Modernity
- Subjects of Modernity
- Political Philosophy and Gender
- Philosophy of the Body and Biopolitics
- Critical Reflection in Politics
- Contemporary Institutional Studies
- Theory of Action
- Research Seminar
- Foreign Language (Russian or other)
Core courses Research Methods in Social Sciences and Humanities. The course covers scholarly and field methods and is designed to enable students to carry out their own research projects. It discusses differences among and advantages of research tools used in contemporary social sciences and humanities. The focus is the methods of data collection used most frequently in qualitative research, including in-depth interviews, focus groups, observation, content analysis of written and graphic material, data coding. Examples of completed research on relevant topics are considered to give an understanding of specifics of qualitative research, including grounded theory, comparative research, case studies and ethnography. Topics covered include the issues of the value of social research and research in humanities, financial and temporal constraints, the ethics of carrying out primary and secondary research. Students will learn how to articulate a research question, select the research methods most likely to help answer the research question, and critically evaluate the data these methods bring.
History of Political Philosophy. This course’s practical aim is to develop students’ skills of interpreting philosophical texts. It has a clear agenda of changing the practice of reading philosophical texts through ideological lenses and in analyzing them in classificatory manner. The methodology of Cambridge school in intellectual history suggests to look upon philosophical texts as speech acts rather than as expressions of certain systems that are imputed to every author or celestial conference on universal truths without historical background. In this course, disentangling the illocutionary intentions of the authors is achieved by close reading and reconstruction of the context, in which texts were written and read. The seminars will focus on training students in analyzing and interpreting primary sources from these premises.
Contemporary Political Philosophy. The course seeks to provide students with an overview of debates in modern political philosophy. We shall start with the speeches of the leaders of the French revolution and Burke’s reflections on the Revolution. We then trace the emergence of modern ideologies and go through the discussions of party politics and class morality in early twentieth century. Criticism of Western modernity by Schmitt and Frankfurt school’s representatives will be analyzed along with alternative approaches to politics and humankind’s place in the world offered by Fanon, Nishida and Watsuji. The renewal of political philosophy by Rawls and Habermas as well as communitarian critique of liberal universalism will be explored in the second part of the course. We shall round up our survey with debates on democracy and its criticism, including both left and right radical thinkers.
Power and Its Representation in Urban SpaceThe course aims to examine forms and mechanisms through which the power manifests itself in the urban space. We will look into various social and political contexts of urban development and will focus on architecture. We will consider complicated social nature of architecture and explore the ways it affects symbolical and institutional fields of politics. In the first part of the course, we will adopt a historical perspective and will try to understand how dominating ways of thinking about politics were represented in the architecture in certain periods and how architecture, in its turn, shaped the perception of urban environment. The second part is designed around the search for analytical tools and approaches to grasp the complex link between modern architecture, current social trends and dominating political discourses.
Contemporary Institutional Studies in PoliticsThe course aims at exploring what institutional paradigm in political and social studies comprises. The key question can be formulated in the following way: What does it mean in fact “to think institutionally”? We will review the most influential approaches developed in contemporary institutionalism and will consider them not just as a simple set of analytical tools but as full-fledged social theories that offer their own vision and understanding of politics. Explanatory models that have taken shape within institutionalism will be applied to various social contexts and discussed with the view to understand their strengths and weaknesses in interpreting the current political trends and changes of social reality.
Theory of Modernity. In this course, we shall discuss the concepts of modernity, progress and universal human development. ‘Modernity’ refers to the quality of societies rather than to the fact that these societies are contemporaneous (‘modern’ societies and ‘archaic’ societies may well live beside one another). ‘Modernity’ is classificatory and historical rather than temporal concept; it implies historical change and divergence from the past, opposition to tradition. In trying to clarify our analytical tools for thinking about our past and future in political life, we shall address the following questions: How has the idea that the future will be different from the past, or, in terms of R. Koselleck, the idea of the ‘open future’, become credible? How has classical social theory developed conceptual and analytical tools for the study of modernity as a historical stage and social form (collective Lebensform)? How has social theory overcome its ideological assumption that all societies, all humanity must evolve in a uniform manner and towards the same ultimate goal? How has social science shifted its focus from institutions and systems to ethos and practices, from lifeless abstractions to individuals and their experience of living through modernity? What new conceptual and analytical tools allow social theory and social science to shed light on specific historical trajectories of modernization, on cultural dimension of modernity, and on human agency? How can academic discourse on modernity benefit from the theories of plural/multiple modernities? All these questions will be discussed in our classes with the help of scholarly literature that will be assigned for each class.
Micropolitics. This course explores the following topics: social interactions and their political framing, H.Garfinkel’s ethnomethodology as a theory of micropolitical transformations, dramaturgical theories of social action and their political implication. The course will also focus on revolutionary changes in art – Surrealist, Lettrist and Situationist revolutions will be reviewed as attempts in micropolitical changes of modern society by means of art. The application of micropolitics in management will also be studied.
MA Dissertation. Writing and defending the MA dissertation is an essential part of the program’s curriculum. The MA dissertation is a piece of written work designed to demonstrate the author’s ability to carry out individual research, to pursue specific research tasks, to chose appropriate research methods for these tasks and to communicate her/his findings in fluent and clear academic writing. Work for the MA dissertation is an on-going process throughout the program.Students will have the opportunity to write their MA dissertation on a variety of topics, focusing, preferably, on actively debated and discussed issues in modern Political Philosophy, such as the concepts of recognition, justice, power, legitimacy, nationalism, multiculturalism, citizenship and the like. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the program, the MA dissertation could combine approaches from other academic fields, such as anthropology, sociology, political science, cultural studies and so on, provided that the conceptual core of the work lies within the field of political philosophy.The MA dissertation is written under guidance of a supervisor, who is typically one of the program’s faculty members. It is a student’s responsibility to solicit a supervisor. Students are expected to chose a supervisor and secure her/his agreement during the first semester in the program. The list of the faculty’s research interests and fields is available on the Program’s website.Students are strongly advised to take the Research seminar during their first semester in the program, which is designed to help students to acquire skills, necessary for carrying out their independent research and writing the MA dissertation. Below is the list of important deadlines for various stages of work on the dissertation:
September – December (1st semester) – Choosing your supervisor and the thesis topic
February (2nd semester) – Submitting the topic of your thesis for the department’s approval (takes place at the department’s meeting)
September (3rd semester) – Presenting an outline of your thesis and of each chapter to your supervisor
April-May (4th semester) – preparing the final version of the thesis manuscript
June (4th semester) – dissertation defense
The defense of the MA dissertation takes the form of its public presentation by the author, in front of the State assessment committee. No later than a week before the defense date the student gives a copy of the dissertation to the officially appointed reader, who prepares a written review of the work, in which she/he suggests a grade for the work, such as “excellent,” “good,” “satisfactory,” “unsatisfactory.” The supervisor also writes a review of the students’ work and suggests her/his grade. The final grade for the MA dissertation is determined by the State assessment committee based on the reviews and the defense. Best dissertations typically receive awards by the Committee and, in case of really outstanding work, are recommended for publication.