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Unit information: Global Justice 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 Global Justice
Unit code POLI20010
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Alix Dietzel
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

Debates surrounding issues of global justice are at the centre of political theory, international relations scholarship and political practice. This unit aims to explore key debates concerning the scope of justice, the validity of thinking about justice and human rights at the global level, and the application of global justice arguments to key problems threatening global cohabitation. The course is divided into two parts. Part One (weeks 1-5) provides a conceptual foundation for the unit, exploring the roots of global justice, key proponents of the approach, fundamental questions shaping the practice of global justice, as well as criticisms of the notion of global justice and ethics. Based on this foundation, Part Two (weeks 6-10) of the course explores the conceptual issues framing global justice and human rights within the context of specific empirical case studies, examining key global problems, including poverty, gender inequality and rights, labour rights, post-conflict/transitional justice, refugees and humanitarian intervention.

Unit Aims

By the end of the unit, students will have a critical understanding of the global justice debate, a contextual understanding of key philosophical and practical issues within these debates as well as demonstrable in depth knowledge of a number of urgent global cohabitation problems. Students will gain cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, including the ability to evaluate advanced concepts, arguments and theories, to employ both primary and secondary sources, to present reasoned and effective arguments in written and oral form, to pursue independent learning and to show critical judgement.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the relevance of global justice scholarship for assessing global political problems.
  • Critically engage with the work of leading political philosophers.
  • Understand key philosophical and practical problems within global justice scholarship.
  • Draw on knowledge of key global cohabitation problems.

Teaching Information

1x1 hour Lecture, 1x2 hour seminar per week.

Assessment Information

Essay 1: 1,500 words (25%)

Essay 2: 2,500 words (75%)

Both assessments test all learning outcomes listed above.

Reading and References

Beitz, C. ‘Justice and International Relations,’ Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 4(4), (1975): 360-389.

Brock, G. Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). This book provides excellent summaries and clear arguments related to many of the themes found within this unit. An electronic copy is already available through the library.

Brown, G.W., Held, D. The Cosmopolitanism Reader (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010). Many of the readings for this course are collected in this reader.

Caney, S. ‘Global Distributive Justice and the State,’ Political Studies, Vol. 56(3), (2008): 487–518.

Tan, C.K. Justice Without Borders (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).