Skip to main content

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.

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 for more detail. 

Theory Faculty


  • Samuel Elgin, Assistant Teaching Professor. PhD, Yale University. Political Philosophy
  • Fonna Forman, Associate Professor. PhD, University of Chicago. Political theory, public culture, grounded normative theory
  • Harvey Goldman, Adjunct Professor, Sociology. PhD, UC Berkeley. Political Theory, comparative social theory
  • Sean Ingham, Associate Professor. PhD, Havard University. Politcal Science
  • Gerald L. Mackie, Associate Professor. PhD, University of Chicago. Political Theory
  • Zeynep Pamuk, Assistant Professor. PhD, Harvard University. Political Theory
  • Tracy B. Strong, 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.