Republicanism, Empire and Revolution

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 3
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module will familiarise students with debates on republicanism and revolution in classical and early modern western thinking, and 19th to 20th century anti-colonial thinking, notably in Haiti and India. The module will focus on the ‘republican revival’ in western political thought of the 1960s to 80s that occurred in the context of decolonization and postcolonial republican foundings. It will examine the language of political activism and anti-colonial revolution and consider how this language constitutes republican theory both in the western canon and anti-colonial backlash against imperial domination. This rich language of republicanism based on virtue, self-rule, the public thing, freedom and constitutional government underpins two views of the republic as (1) an expansive state that pursues empire in order to maintain itself and benefit from global trade by incorporating the people in representative government and (2) a form of political rule that promotes self-government and freedom from imperial and monarchical domination.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Acquire a broad understanding of republican political theory and language in European and anticolonial political thinking
  • Engage in debates on domination, resistance, revolution and the founding of new republics
  • Develop an understanding of republican institutions and constitutions
  • Develop critical reading, research and writing skills through engagement with historical and contemporary texts in political theory


  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week 

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: 40%
Assignment 2: 50%
presentation: 10%

Suggested reading

  • Hannah Arendt, On Revolution (Penguin, 1963)
  • Cicero, De Republica (CUP or Loeb)
  • Machiavelli, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy (Penguin, 1970)
  • Montesquieu Spirit of the Laws (CUP, 1989)
  • C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins (Penguin, 1938)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules