Political Philosophy

Political Philosophy

Duration: 1 year (Full-time) or 2 years (Part-time)
Language of instruction: Russian
Format: On-campus
Special conditions: tuition fee waivers available
- Master of Arts in Political Science (University of Manchester, UK)
- Certificate of Professional Retraining "Political Philosophy" (MSSES, Russia) 
The Political Philosophy program is Russia's first program in political philosophy. It is unique in that it provides a comprehensive understanding of politics through a combination of several disciplines: philosophy, history, sociology, and political science.

Each of these disciplines allows you to develop competencies and acquire knowledge that is necessary for understanding, researching and changing social reality.
  • Thanks to the philosophical component, our students receive education in the field of classical and modern socio-political thought, learn to justify and defend their own ethical and political position
  • The historical method forms theoretical thinking, imagination, and the ability to see trends
  • Sociology provides an understanding of the structure and dynamics of key social processes in Russia and at the global level
  • From modern political science, we take an understanding of the laws of functioning of political processes, applied technologies of political action, and the principles of the international order

Political philosophy today includes descriptive, normative, and critical theory: through the descriptive element, it is able to offer alternative explanations of political events and find new approaches to analyzing reality; the normative part provides tools for the conscious design of the future; while the critical attitude allows you to reflexively relate to the prevailing beliefs, understand and overcome them.

Who is this program for?

Our students are people of different ages, education and experience, who are united by the desire to learn how to understand and transform political reality with the help of modern theories. Here they find a comfortable infrastructure for education, a friendly working environment and a community of like-minded people.
It was difficult to learn to realize that there are no immutable truths, everything is worth questioning and to learn to argue your opinion. This is what makes a striking difference between Shaninka and other Russian Universities. Thanks to Shaninka, I realized that I could be of value as a scientific researcher, although I always doubted it before. And this is an unbelievable sense of self-importance - when you realize that you have something to say, and you are heard, understood and supported.
Marina Yaroslavtseva, 2019 graduate of the Political Philosophy program

Features and values of the educational program

  • The course provides you with the opportunity to learn the language of modern political thought. The course programs and literature studied are formed according to the standards of the world's leading universities.
  • Students get access to unique information resources on political philosophy and social theory. The library contains a rich collection of books.
  • A team of young instructors and active researchers with experience in education and work abroad. Students have the opportunity to participate in research projects of instructors already during their training.
  • Students can attend regular presentations and mini-courses by lecturers from around the world.

  • The course is very flexible and students can choose to complete the program in 1 or 2 years.
  • Our students improve their English language. All our graduates speak English at a level sufficient to read professional texts.
  • The opportunity to obtain a European master's degree without having to travel outside of Russia. Graduates of the program receive two diplomas-the British Master of Arts in Political Science and International Relations and the Russian diploma of professional training.
  • Individual approach. Each student makes an individual curriculum, which includes four mandatory courses, and the rest they choose independently.

How is the training arranged?

Working with concepts. People's actions are determined by their thinking. The program focuses on the analysis and development of concepts that organize people's thinking. Students get acquainted with the history of key concepts of modern political thought, master the methodology of interpretation of concepts, and learn how to create a conceptual framework for their own research.
Students write essays and dissertations on topics that interest them. For example, Arnold Khachaturov, a graduate of the program, wrote his dissertation "Transformations of government regimes under the influence of behavioral sciences".

Training program

Required course

International relations theory
The course introduces the main discussions in the theory of international relations during the XX-XXI centuries. Gives an idea of the main concepts of political theory: national state, sovereignty, national interest, international anarchy, power in international politics, hegemony, the international community, international cooperation, etc. Within the framework of the discipline, students analyze the main theoretical approaches: realism, liberalism, the English school and constructivism.

History oа political philosophy
The course introduces the main problems of modern political philosophy. During the classes, students study key concepts proposed by such leading Western political theorists as Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss, Karl Schmitt, Antonio Negri, Jacques Rancière, and others and discuss the possibility of their application in the analysis of the current socio-political situation.

Theory of democracy
The course shows how the democratic idea was developed and implemented in institutions and practices. The course program includes a historical overview of democratic regimes and democratic thought, covers the evolution of democratic ideas and forms from Antiquity to their spread in the XIX-XX centuries and the modern crisis of liberal democracy. The course is based on the opposition of democratic and anti-democratic traditions in political thought. From the place of democracy in classical doctrines (Aristotle, Bodin, Hobbes, Spinoza), the course proceeds to the development of modern projects of democracy (minimal democracy, deliberative democracy, populism, plebiscitary) and theorists of radical democracy (Lefort, Kastoriades, Rancière, Laclau, Mouff, Negri).

History of concepts
The course demonstrates the possibilities of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of political languages - the main method of modern political theory. Allows you to master various methodologies in the history of ideas and the history of concepts, first of all-the Cambridge school (K. Skinner, J. Pocock) and the German Begriffsgeschichte (R. Kozellek). Students learn the methodology in various cases, including the Russian material of the XIX-XX centuries. The course serves as a methodological introduction to intellectual history.

Optional courses

Anthropology of media and technology
The course introduces students to an anthropological approach to understanding media and technology. It provides an introduction to the key issues and concepts of modern media culture. It shows how classical anthropological concepts (B. Malinovsky, K. Geertz, B. Anderson, V. Turner) allow us to assess the formative role of media. It teaches you to understand and explore the basic principles of the functioning of modern media, technologies, genres, formats, models, scenarios, narratives, and other forms by which media today form the relationship between the Individual and the Social.

International political conflicts
The course provides students with the basic conceptual and theoretical tools necessary for analyzing political and international conflicts. The main part of the course is devoted to the English and Copenhagen schools of international relations, which offered a kind of methodological and conceptual alternative to" mainstream " theories.

History as a field of political theory
The course shows the possibilities of analyzing historical knowledge by means of political theory; the political nature of the most important historical concepts and conventions. It introduces students to the most productive contemporary researchers at the intersection of historical and political theory, in particular such famous scientists as Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Jacques Rancière, Franklin Ankersmith, Berber Bevernage, and others.

Introduction to critical theory
The course will present the basic concepts of critical theory and the trajectory of its evolution in a broad historical and intellectual context. Despite the fact that the term “critical theory " is known mainly due to the authors of the Frankfurt school, it refers to the concept of ideology and its criticism, formulated by Marx, and developed by thinkers such as Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs. Today, it can be defined, according to Sean Rosenberg, as a theory that “creates the analytical and ethical foundations necessary to uncover the structures of basic social practices and identify the distortions of social life that are embodied in them.”

Historical memory and politics
The course introduces students to the issues and content of the latest scientific discussions about historical memory and its role in politics. Shows the relationship between historical memory and politics based on the analysis of specific examples. Demonstrates to the audience how various methods of modern social theory can be used in the study of historical memory and related politics. The course includes an analysis of historical policy cases in Germany, the USA, Russia and other countries.

Public opinion as a concept and technology
The course forms students ' ideas about the Institute for public opinion research, its history and its functions. Today, public opinion research is one of the key political technologies. The course combines analysis of discussions about public opinion in theories of democracy (Zh.-Zh. Rousseau, G. V. F. Hegel, J. S. Mill, J. Bryce, K. Schmitt, Y. Habermas) and allows you to understand the internal structure of the technology of public opinion polls, learn how to correctly interpret the poll numbers and understand what function they perform in modern political regimes.

Philosophy of war
The course offers an interdisciplinary approach to war with reference to ethics, international law, history, social science, and political theory. The philosophical study of war has become a classic of modern political thought. Such courses are rare in the Russian higher education system. Students are invited to get acquainted with classical and modern interpretations of armed conflict (Grotius, Kant, Sun Tzu, Clausewitz), to trace changes in the status of war as a political tool (Tolstoy, Scheler, Junger, Schmitt), to raise the question of the possibility of studying war from an ethical perspective (Walzer, Foushn).

Orientalism and postcolonial studies
The course presents the main directions of modern postcolonial research with an emphasis on two problem fields: (1) criticism of modern forms of scientific knowledge ("orientalist", etc.) for their explicit or implicit coloniality; (2) development of new approaches to social research, taking into account the criticism expressed. The course provides a general overview of the emergence of postcolonial studies, their evolution, and the place of postcolonial theories in modern political thought (F. Fanon, E. said, P. Chatterjee, G. Spivak, J. Derrida, M. Tossig, and A. Etkind).

Philosophy of law
The course establishes links between the concepts of the Roman legal tradition contained in Modern political thought and the system of classical Roman law. It highlights the role of law in philosophy and introduces the basic concepts of natural law and the theory of justice in Modern and Contemporary political thought. The course traces the evolution of ideas about law from classical thinkers (J. Bodin, G. Grotius, T. Hobbes, J. Locke, S. Puffendorf) to modern philosophy of law, starting with the Kantian-Hegelian tradition (H. Kelsen, R. Dworkin, A. Sen, A. McIntyre).

Theories of the state and state power
The course expands students' knowledge in the field of theories of the state and state power, which appeared after the New time. Students will learn about different ideas about the nature of state power, as well as about the place of the state among other forces operating in society, such as financial elites, the сhurch, the army, as well as various social groups and organizations. The course expands students' knowledge in the field of theories of the state and state power, which appeared after the New time. Students will learn about different ideas about the nature of state power, different ways to theorize about the state, and what place the state occupies among other forces operating in society, such as financial elites, the church, the army, and various social groups and organizations. It demonstrates continuity in the tradition of the political theory of the state: classical texts (Hobbes, Spinoza, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx) are read in a new way, challenged or supplemented by theorists of the XX-XXI centuries (Schmitt, Kelsen, Scott, Foucault, Bourdieu, Negri).

Marxism and the theory of international relations
The course provides an insight into the main Marxist concepts, their development after Marx, as well as key debates within Marxism and their relationship to the practical politics of the left and social movement in industrial society and the global capitalist system as a whole.

Communication in the public sphere
The course gives an idea of how the concept of public space is historically formed and transformed, how publicity is constituted in the light of European, American and domestic theories of the public sphere. Students analyze what communication practices are used to form and structure the spheres of publicity, what new communication experiences, problems, and "communication deformations" arise in the public spheres of modern democracies, and also consider how the reception and criticism of the authors of classical theories of the public sphere (I. Kant, H. Arendt, Y. Habermas, etc.) develop in the modern discourse of public communication, what new semantic zones and analytical resources it opens up.

Nationalism as a political ideology
The course gives an idea of nationalism as one of the largest ideologies of our time, clarifying its relationship with other ideological discourses: liberalism, socialism, conservatism, etc. The course covers important issues of modern political theory: nation-building, nationalism and democracy, nationalism and multiculturalism, nationalism and the national state in the global economy.

What do students and graduates get?

  1. They get basic theoretical training in the field of political philosophy and international relations; knowledge of the conceptual apparatus of modern research.
  2. Students and graduates get applied skills in information analysis, design and interpretation of political and sociological research
  3. They master their skills of independent critical analysis of political reality phenomena.
  4. They get involved in the international academic community dealing with political philosophy and social science; they receive prospects for continuing education and research growth in this field.
  5. They acquire the theoretical base on political and social science for possible applied research and expert activities in the field of political forecasting, work with ideological materials, therapy of social and political conflicts, resolution of issues of international law, etc.

Our graduates have all the necessary knowledge and resources both for building academic careers and for practical analysis of political processes. A graduate of the University of Manchester and MSSES ensure competitiveness with continued education and research in the graduate schools of Russia and abroad. The skills to research political processes and create professional texts open up opportunities for expert and consulting work in the field of political analysis.


MSSES provides a whole range of skills for conducting discussions and arguing one's point of view, teaches not to be afraid of "forbidden topics" - they simply do not exist here. And they are always ready to help you - you just have to ask about it. I will never forget how Grigory Borisovich, at our request, conducted additional classes with us in political philosophy in those blocks that were of interest to the group, sacrificing his personal time, and sometimes his voice.
Marina Yaroslavtseva, 2019 graduate of the Political Philosophy program

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