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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 POLIM0005
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
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


Debates surrounding issues of global justice are at the centre of both political theory and political practice. This unit aims to explore key debates about the scope of justice, the validity of thinking about justice 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 1-3) provides a normative foundation, exploring the roots of global justice, key proponents of the approach, as well as criticisms of the notion of global ethics. Based on this foundation, Part Two (weeks 4-10) of the course applies the global justice approach to key global problems, including climate change, gender inequality, global production and labour rights, poverty, global health, refugees, and humanitarian intervention.


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:

1) Explain why global justice debates have emerged and how they have developed.

2) Demonstrate substantial knowledge on global justice debates, including the key criticisms of these debates.

3) Critically evaluate global problems, such as poverty, climate change, conflict, and health from a global justice perspective.

Critically assess the current state of global cohabitation and how this relates to questions of distributive justice.

Teaching details

Ten two-hour seminars

Assessment Details

Formative Assessment - Two page essay plan

Students will develop a two page plan to outline their approach to their chosen essay question. All essay questions will be designed to allow evaluation of student performance in relation to Intended Learning Outcomes 1-4 as detailed below. Essay questions will go through a process of internal review and external examiner review prior to their release to students. Assessment of the two page essay plan as formative assessment will allow, in advance of the submission of the summative essay at the end of the unit, for developmental feedback to be provided to students on key aspects such as: approach to the question; degree of relevant content; range of reading; integration of evidence and argument. More generally, the formative assessment will allow for provision of indicative feedback from the unit owner on the extent to which the essay plan indicates that the aims and intended learning outcomes are likely to be met in the essay, and for suggestions for improvement on all of the above. Written feedback will be provided, with the option of further follow-up discussions with the Unit Owner during office hours or by appointment.

Summative - 4000 word essay (100% of the mark)]

The summative essay will allow for assessment of students’ ability to meet the Intended Learning Outcomes 1-4, detailed below, by requiring students to develop an in-depth essay argument over a length of 4000 words that draws upon relevant readings, materials and debates covered in the unit. The essay questions will be designed so as to require: student engagement with debates on global justice; to demonstrate, relative to the question, substantial knowledge of different positions within these debates; to incorporate detailed evaluation of global problems (as applicable in each question) such as poverty, climate, changes, conflict and health as an integrated aspect of the essay argument; to incorporate critical reflection on the current state of global cohabitation as a substantive component of the essay argument.

Reading and References

Brown, G.W. and Held D., The Cosmopolitanism Reader (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010)

Brock, G., Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Gardiner, S. M., Caney, S., Jamieson, D., and Shue, H., (eds) Climate Ethics – Essential Readings (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Lenard, P. and Straehle, C., (eds) Health Inequalities and Global Justice (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012)

Pogge, T., World Poverty and Human Rights (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002)

Wheeler, N., Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society (Oxford University Press, 2000)