I have taught on three Political Theory courses as a Teaching Assistant/Seminar Leader
Introduction to Political Theory: This is an introductory course to normative political theory: a course about what values and principles should guide political action and decision-making. In particular, this course asks about what is arguably the most fundamental question in the normative study of politics: which justifications, values and principles might justify and guide the use of coercive political power, and the power of the state in particular? It focuses on theories of the state of nature and state legitimacy (why have states?), theories of democracy (how should states make decisions?) and theories of social welfare (how can states become more just?). At all points, the emphasis is on helping students to grasp the theoretical tools that are needed to give defensible, answers to these questions, with simplicity and clarity in analysis.
Ideals of Social Justice: This course takes a theory of social justice – ‘liberal egalitarianism’ – that is dominant in the contemporary literature in political theory, and analyses it from a wide range of angles. We study its theoretical foundations (is liberal egalitarian thought best constructed on consequentialist, deontological or contractualist grounds?); we study internal debates between proponents of the theory (how should we interpret the ‘liberal’ and ‘egalitarian’ strands of the theory? may liberal egalitarian states promote controversial ideals of human flourishing? should we apply the theory beyond the boundaries of nation-states?); and we study external critiques launched by those who partly or wholly reject the liberal egalitarian project (should liberal egalitarianism be modified or indeed rejected because it fails to do justice to feminist, racial, or Marxist concerns?)
Challenges to Democratic Politics: This intermediate course in Political Theory starts from problems in existing societies and takes a bottom up approach to solving them. It focuses on the ethical issues raised by some of the main challenges that contemporary democracies are facing at the moment including corruption, misogyny, statues of wrongdoers, voting, and political protest - among others. It examines the extent to which these societies are equipped to deal with the problem by democratic means, and asks which legitimate avenues of opposition and resistance may be open to citizens and residents if they are not.
As well as teaching on the above courses, I have also assisted with the diversification and development of the course content for Introduction to Political Theory, by completing paid work providing reading recommendations for new topics, including: Colonialism, Race and Contract Theory, Gender and Structural Injustice, Democratic Ethos, and Violent and Non-Violent Resistance.
Widening Participation Work
As a Widening Participation Fellow, my role is to support the university in both increasing access to HE for pre-university students from under-represented socio-economic backgrounds and helping current Widening Participation students in facing the challenges posed by progressing through university.
I have produced three pre-recorded sessions for the pre-university side of my role, which schools are able to use, subsequently booking me for Q&A follow up sessions if they wish (one on “Why Study Politics” at University and two are a guided Philosophy Subject Taster Workshop, with activities, on “Should animals have human rights?” and "Corruption - Bad People or Bad Institutions?").
For current university students, I have (alongside the WP Lead for Politics) organised and ran a series of workshops to support current students through their undergraduate journeys and beyond. I also act as a Data and Evaluation Partner for the WP team to support them in the production of reports on the impact of WP work at The University of Manchester.
Feedback on Teaching
My teaching has led to me being nominated for two awards, the Politics TA of the Year Award (nominated by the course convenor) and the SU's Academic Advising Award (nominated by the students themselves). On anonymous post course feedback, students had this to say about my teaching:
"Matthew Perry's seminars were great. He worked really hard to make his seminars interactive and engaging. I really appreciated his emails which sent us the seminar powerpoints and some additional comments from him in advance. He was also great support and replied to emails quickly and was helpful during his office hours. He's also clearly very passionate about pol theory. Matt's seminars were easily the best seminars which I attended this semester. Overall an asset to the team"
"Matthew was an amazing seminar leader who always knew how to make the discussion going, did not make us feel bad if we were not sure about our answers or for some reason did not manage to prepare for the seminar well enough. He was always happy to explain and answer any question we had. What I appreciated a lot was the regular emails with seminar content, slides and a reminder for the necessary reading for the week. In some of my modules, it was hard to keep up with the preparation, but Matthew always provided an overview of what needed to be done. Big thumbs up."
"Matthew Perry's constant availability for support and his encouragement of discussion in his tutorials - especially by separating us into groups for mini-discussion before presenting to the group... Also the feedback from my exam was thorough and explained exactly how to improve, leaving me with no doubt as to how to move forward.”"
"My tutorial taker (Matthew Parry) was also very good in setting out content and discussions in each tutorial week and engaging with the reading material"
"My tutor Matthew Perry was extremely helpful and understanding"
"The Seminars under Matthew Perry were extremely engaging. The clear structure provided in these seminars allowed for a level of interaction with the material and other students that is very hard to ascertain in an online learning environment."
"Matthew was a very helpful and accommodating tutor - thank you. Knew what was expected and when it was expected, was very helpful surrounding assessment in terms of what was expected, how to approach issues and then with feedback and evaluation, it was very tailored to aspects of my own submission"
"My tutor (matthew perry) was excellent, engaging everyone and allow for great discussion and learning consolidation. By far my best tutor."