Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


The concept of power is central to social and political theory, but raises many questions: what constitutes power and how should it be defined? What kind of agents exercise power? Is the power of one agent necessarily antagonistic to another? Is power essentially repressive in its effects? Is power necessarily external and opposed to the freedom of individuals, or is it possible to understand human subjectivity itself in terms of power? This course will examine a range of answers to these and other questions, drawn from a number of sources, with particular emphasis on the work of Foucault.


Not currently offered.

Replacing course(s)

This course replaces the following course(s): PHIL3850. Students who have successfully completed PHIL3850 are not eligible to enrol in PHIL3851.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Knowledge and familiarity with the main issues addressed and approaches taken with respect to the notion of power.

2. Skills in reading philosophical texts and critically analysing issues.

3. Critical skills to appreciate and engage in contemporary debates over power.

4. Critical skills in analysing and presenting philosophical issues as they emerge in contemporary debates.


  1. Presentation of subjectivist notions of power
  2. Presentation of Marxist conceptions of power
  3. Presentation of structuralist notions of power
  4. Presentation of Foucault's conception of power
  5. Presentation of critical debates concerning Foucault's account and its implications for ethics and socio-political critique.


This course replaces PHIL3850 If you have successfully completed PHIL3850 you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge

20 units PHIL courses with at least 10 units at 2000 level

Assessment items

Essay: Two essays