Accessibility statement

Justice, Legitimacy & Democracy - POL00005M

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  • Department: Politics and International Relations
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Alfred Moore
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module provides an advanced introduction to some of the most significant approaches in contemporary political theory. We will focus in particular on the challenges created by pervasive disagreements, which characterise our societies, about what religion, if any, is true, how individuals should lead their life and what laws should be enacted. Is state neutrality among religious and philosophical doctrines the correct response to pluralism? Should we make sure to always be civil with those we disagree with, or is a more confrontational style of politics necessary to fight entrenched injustice? In a diverse society, should citizens still fight political battles for what they see as the truth? We will approach these and other questions through the work of key contemporary thinkers including John Rawls, Amy Gutmann, Chantal Mouffe and Joseph Raz. Also, we will investigate how these theoretical discussions can illuminate pressing real-world problems, focusing in particular on conspiracy theories, partisan echo chambers and filter bubbles, the right of liberal democratic institutions to defend themselves from domestic illiberal movements, and the disintegration of the EU.

Module learning outcomes

To acquire a thorough grounding in recent contemporary democratic theory. To develop critical and argumentative skills through seminar discussion and analysis of philosophical texts.

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

There is no core text for this module, and readings will be provided for each week, but a few relevant books are:

John Rawls, Political Liberalism, expanded edition (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).

James Bohman and William Rehg (eds.), Deliberative Democracy: Essays on Reason and Politics (Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 1998).

Richard Bellamy, Liberalism and Pluralism: Towards a Politics of Compromise (London: Routledge, 1999).

Anthoula Malkopoulou and Alexander Kirshner (eds.), Militant Democracy and Its Critics: Populism, Parties, Extremism (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.