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Unit information: The Ethics of Migration and Citizenship in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name The Ethics of Migration and Citizenship
Unit code PHIL30118
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Bertram
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Much political philosophy proceeds on the assumption that states exercise sovereignty over the set of citizens who live on their territory. If democracy is the right form of government, the principle of democratic legitimacy presumes that those over whom power is exercised have a right to a say in government. But in real life, the presence of people who are non-members on the territory, the fact that many citizens live elsewhere and the right that states claim to control their borders makes this picture problematic. Moreover, the distribution of many important goods and freedoms to people is conditioned by their citizenship status: if you have the citizenship of a wealthy liberal democracy, your prospects in life are vastly better than if you are born the citizen of a poor country in sub-Saharan Africa. This unit is about how the normative questions of how we allocate and ought to allocate citizenship, of what states owe to non members (both within and outside the territory). It asks how membership is justified and who ought to be a member and on what grounds, how living with people from different cultures and ethnicities might affect how liberal democracies should be organized, what we owe to people who are failed or persecuted by their country of origin (refugees and asylum seekers) and whether the right that states claim to control their borders and exclude outsiders is justified or not. The unit will be taught by a combination of lectures and seminars.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1. Explain the main philosophical arguments for and against the right of states to manage migration and their connection to positions in debates on global justice.

2. Explain the main philosophical disagreements around the concepts of citizenship, toleration and multiculturalism.

3. Explain the key arguments around the rights of refugees, their human rights and state obligations to them.

4. conduct a small-scale independent research project

5. present sophisticated arguments in structured writing

Teaching Information

2 x 1-hour lecture per week

1 x 1-hour seminar per week

Assessment Information

All assessment for this unit is summative.

1 x 2000 word essay (25% of assessment), assesses ILOs 1-5

2-hour unseen examination (75% of assessment). assesses ILOs 1-3, 5

Reading and References

Joseph Carens, The Ethics of Immigration (Oxford, 2013)

Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole, Debating the Ethics of Immigration (Oxford 2011).

Michael Dummett, On Immigration and Refugees (Routledge, 2001).

Ayelet Shachar, The Birthright Lottery (Harvard, 2009).