All Souls Politics questions

I’ve spent a couple of days in Oxford giving a talk and acting as external examiner on a dissertation, and staying at All Souls College. All Souls has a famously-difficult exam to become an Examination Fellow. The 2016-2022 Politics exam questions are on the website – a very fun read (at least for those of us not taking the exam!). I particularly enjoyed thinking about the following questions (different than having any idea how to answer them, to be clear):

  • Is there a non-Marxist account of class?
  • Scholars have long scrutinized the causes of political revolutions yet have typically failed to predict them accurately. Why?
  • Has Enlightenment humanism lost its appeal?
  • Does the observed decline in military coups portend an equivalent decline in the incidence of authoritarian regimes?
  • Is populism an ideology?
  • ‘This narrow world, strewn with prohibitions, can only be called in question by absolute violence’ (FRANTZ FANON). Is violence the only way to meet societal oppression?
  • Does the rise of religious fundamentalism reveal a fatal flaw in Max Weber’s theory of disenchantment?
  • ‘Political science provides answers, but political theory asks the questions.’ Discuss.
  • Is a nuclear second-strike ever permissible?
  • ‘At the core of conservatism lies an irreconcilable tension between nationalism and free-market economics.’ Do you agree?
  • Is the US state a weak state?
  • Can one be a Hobbesian democrat?

P.S. the History questions are also very interesting.

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