Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar Contribution / Seminar Presentation  10%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 4,500 word essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Discuss the broader significance and role of political theory within the field of IR.
2. Outline contemporary communitarian and cosmopolitan approaches and locate them within broader traditions of political thought.
3. Evaluate the central philosophical ideas identified with the concepts of international and global justice.
4. Compare and contrast various accounts of global inequality.
5. Critically analyze the theories of several key thinkers in contemporary liberal political theory.
6. Analyze the practical implications of a variety of perspectives on international justice.
7. Evaluate a range of policy recommendations for assisting under-developed regions.
8. Appraise and put forward theoretical arguments.


This module adds to the Departmental provision in the Masters' basket of international political theory. It provides a sustained focus on the theoretical and normative debates surrounding the issue of global inequality. It allows interested students to gain specialist knowledge of a variety of theories of justice and philosophical arguments that address the moral necessity and possibility of assisting the distant needy. In discussing global poverty, a pressing question of our time, the module will provide the opportunity to study in depth some of key contemporary Anglo-American philosophers


1. Morality and Philosophy in International Relations: Communitarian and Cosmopolitan Traditions of Thought – Chris Brown, Normative Approaches in International Relations
2. The Renewal of Justice: The Political Philosophy of John Rawls - A Theory of Justice
3. The Possibility of Global Justice - Charles Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations
4. Imagining a Realistic Utopia - John Rawls, The Law of Peoples
5. Strong Cosmopolitanism - Kok-Chor Tan, Toleration, Diversity and Global Justice
6. Weak Cosmopolitanism - Thomas Pogge, Human Rights & World Poverty
7. Overcoming Communitarianism - David Miller, Global Justice & National Responsibility
8. Extending International Justice: Martha Nussbaum, The Frontiers of Justic : Amartya Sen
9. Cosmopolitarism of a different kind: Andrew Linklater & Richard Schapcott
10. Justice and the Environment - Andrew Dobson, Green Political Thought

Brief description

In this module, students will address the substantive issue of so-called 'under-development' through the lens of contemporary political philosophy. The primary engagement with problems of global poverty will be through reading a variety of theoretical texts dating back to the early 1970s, which attempt to treat the issue from a philosophical perspective. Each seminar will focus by and large on one specific text. The study of these texts will be situated within the broader discipline of International Politics by first examining how the philosophical traditions of cosmopolitanism and communitarianism have emerged as key perspectives within International Political Theory. Students will then engage with seminal philosophical works in the area of 'international' and 'global justice', with a particular focus on the ideas of John Rawls, which have come to define discussions of justice in the Anglo-American academy. The controversy surrounding his work, 'The Law of Peoples', and the ongoing debate between cosmopolitan thinkers will provide a key focus for the core section of the module. Latterly, other perspectives on international justice will be examined, both in their attempts to move beyond the Rawlsian paradigm and to find more practical and persuasive responses to the problems of global poverty. Key consideration will be given to the issue of how environmental question might be addressed, or marginalized, by discussions of international justice.


This module is at CQFW Level 7