More light than heat: how Philosophy helps political thinking

Ref: C2338993

Many people avoid politics because they believe it’s about corrupt politicians or people shouting at each other. It does not have to be like this. Disagreements are part of politics because politics deals with really important questions - the right opportunities for individuals, who gets what and how much, what kind of society we want to live in. But it is possible to think and speak clearly and calmly about these issues with the help of philosophical skills. Come along to learn and practice. We will explore the meaning of politics - is it what governments do ? is it about conflict, or trying to resolve conflicts ? is it the exercise of power ? or is it any social or public activity ? There will be many 'real life' examples, and students will be encouraged to follow their interests and 'bug bears'.

Course aim

to give students the opportunity to explore the meaning(s) of politics and to practice expressing their ideas clearly

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • give examples of what people associate with politics
  • explain how politics is important
  • explain at least two different meanings of politics
  • give examples of 'contested concepts'
  • give an account of how your own understanding of politics has developed during the course

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • the work suggested for between class meetings is an opportunity for learning, not an expectation

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • OU openlearn course : introduction to politics :

Download full course outline

More light than heat: how Philosophy helps political thinking Course Outline

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has started and there are no online enrolment places available.


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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