Political Theory

Graduate students in political theory study the analytical, conceptual, and normative models used to explain political phenomena, probe the limits of political possibility, and evaluate political action and institutions. Graduate training at UCSD emphasizes critical engagement with canonical models of politics and analysis of contemporary problems (e.g., the logic of representation, the limits to democracy, or the relationship between violence and social order). Political theorists at UCSD are engaged in lively conversations with specialists in comparative politics, American politics, international relations, and philosophy.

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Students of political theory take survey courses in ancient, modern, and contemporary political theory, as well as seminars on a range of more focused topics. Students can also take directed readings on specific research topics. See Field Requirements (PDF) for more detail. 

Focus Areas in Political Theory

  • A specialized subject
    (e.g. the social contract, authority, power, or obligation)
  • A specialized genre
    (e.g. liberalism, Marxism, or feminist political thought)
  • A historical period
    (e.g. contemporary continental thought or seventeenth century English thought)

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Theory Faculty
  • Fonna Forman-Barzilai, Associate Professor.  PhD, University of Chicago.  Political theory
  • Harvey Goldman, Adjunct Professor, Sociology.  PhD, UC Berkeley.  Political Theory, comparative social theory
  • Marcel Henaff, Adjunct Professor, Literature. PhD, University of Copenhagen. Political Theory, literature, political philosophy
  • Sean Ingham, Assistant Professor. Ph.D. Harvard. Democratic theory, theories of justice, formal political theory
  • Gerald L. Mackie, Associate Professor. Ph.D. University of Chicago. Political Theory
  • Tracy B. Strong, Distinguished Emeritus Professor.  PhD, Harvard University.  Political Theory, contemporary and continental thought 
  • David Wiens, Associate Professor. PhD, University of Michigan. Contemporary political philosophy, philosophy of social science, applied ethics, political institutions.