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Ethics & International Politics - POL00052H

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  • Department: Politics and International Relations
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sara Van Goozen
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module will introduce students to some of the most important debates about how moral norms apply to both peacetime international politics and war. The focus will be on making connections between important philosophical approaches to international ethics and global justice and the current practice of states, major non-state and inter-state actors, and even individuals in the international realm. In other words, the module will help you formulate moral arguments for (or against) a range of policies relating to international politics.

In the first part of the module, we will get to grips with some of the key approaches to international ethics and their application to some of the most important issues facing the global community today, poverty and climate change. Subsequently, we will shift our focus to the interactions between states, and consider the ethical dimensions of different ways in which interstate conflicts can be approached – moving from the peaceful, such as sanctions and boycotts, to war and international terrorism.

Module learning outcomes

  • An understanding of how to apply moral theories and moral reasoning strategies to current events in international politics. An ability to analyse and assess different tactics and policies from an ethical perspective.
  • A broad perspective on some of the most active debates in research on ethics in international politics
  • Greater insight into important security issues, from both a practical and a philosophical perspective.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
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.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend.  They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Beitz, Charles R. 2011. The Idea of Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Caney, Simon. 2005. Justice Beyond Borders: A Global Political Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fabre, Cecile. 2007. Justice in a Changing World. Cambridge: Polity.

Finlay, Christopher. 2017. Terrorism and the Right to Resist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gross, Michael L. 2015. The Ethics of Insurgency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Miller, David. 1995. On Nationality. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Rawls, John. 1999. The Law of Peoples. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Singer, Peter. 2009. The Life You Can Save. New York: Random House.

Strawser, B.J. (Ed.) 2013. Killing by Remote Control. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Walzer, Michael. 1977. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. New York: Basic Books.

Young, Iris Marion. 2011. Responsibility for Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring 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 by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.