Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Ethics in International and Global Politics
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 17x1 hours
Seminars / Tutorials 5x1 hour


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar Participation  10%
Semester Assessment Essay (2750)  45%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam 2 Hours  45%
Supplementary Assessment 1x1000 word seminar reading summary  10%
Supplementary Assessment Essay (2750 words)  45%
Supplementary Assessment Essay in lieu of exam (2750 words)  45%

Learning Outcomes

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

Discuss, and distinguish between, different theoretical approaches employed to understand and question the ethics of international and global politics

Formulate moral argument in its own conceptual terms

Apply theoretical argument to concrete, ethical situations

Digest reading material and make succinct arguments on specific ethical dilemmas

Show clear knowledge of the various aspects of the ethics of contemporary warfare

Show clear knowledge of the ethics of global society

Analyse the practices and trade-offs of ethical judgment in international and global politics

Speak and write succinctly, clearly, and consistently on ethical issues in international and global politics


Lecture 1. Introduction to Module
Lecture 2. Types of Ethical Assessment in International and Global Politics (I)
Lecture 3. Types of Ethical Assessment in International and Global Politics (II)
Lecture 4. The Ethics of International Human Rights (IHR): The Idea of Human Rights
Lecture 5. The Ethics of IHR: A Global Norm and Its Political Consequences
Lecture 6. The Ethics of War: The Just War Tradition
Lecture 7. The Ethics of War: Preventive and Preemptive Wars
Lecture 8. The Ethics of Intervention: Humanitarian Wars
Lecture 9. The Ethics of Intervention: The Responsibility to Protect
Lecture 10. The Ethics of Terrorism and Responses to it: the Ethics of Terror
Lecture 11. The Ethics of Terrorism (...): Ethics of the 'War' on Terror
Lecture 12. The Ethics of Global Society: Global Capitalism and Justice
Lecture 13. The Ethics of Global Society: Climate Change and Justice
Lecture 14. The Ethics of Global Society: The Millennium Development Goals
Lecture 15. Political Ethics: Moral and Political Responsibilities
Lecture 16. Political Ethics: Ethical Trade-Offs and Political Judgment
Lecture 17. Conclusion to Module

Seminar 1. Debate: Is the doctrine of human rights the closest thing to a universal morality, appropriate to a globalized age?
Seminar 2. Debate: Do contemporary technology and non-state actors change the normative landscape of warfare?
Seminar 3. Debate: Has/Will the moral principle of 'Responsibility to Protect' become an international norm in the 21st Century?
Seminar 4. Debate: What are the ethics behind the 'war' on terror? Where are they successful and where are they failing?
Seminar 5. Debate: What are the ethical principles that best inform the possibility of global collective action on climate change mitigation and adaptation?


The module aims to provide the International Politics student (whatever their specific degree program) with both a broad and focused understanding of the ethical issues and dilemmas that insist in contemporary international and global politics. This aim is achieved through theoretical exposition and case study analysis.

Brief description

In the last twenty years the discipline of International Relations (IR) has witnessed an upsurge in IR-trained ethical thought. This module briefly introduces this thought (focusing on realism, deontology, consequentialism, and the political ethics of prudence). It then considers a range of ethical problems in contemporary international (interstate) and global (supranational) politics in order to show how ethical judgment is practiced at the international and global political levels. A diverse range of topics are considered: the ethics and politics of human rights, the ethics of contemporary warfare and of (counter-) terrorism, global capitalism and justice, climate change and justice, post-conflict political reconciliation. The final section considers the trade-offs required in any political decision-making that is morally informed. Each topic is considered in both theoretical and practical terms so that the student can carefully rehearse the kinds of judgment at stake. The seminars, accompanying the topic-related section of the lectures and organized into debates, provide a concrete opportunity for this rehearsal.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to how to present their arguments most effectively. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Students will also be required to submit their essays in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework and presentation topics. The need to prepare for assessed seminar participation and to meet coursework deadlines will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of two essays will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing media and web sources, as well as more conventional academic texts. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather appropriate and interesting resources materials.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. For many of the topics of this module, seminars will consist of small-group discussions where students will be asked to discuss as a group the core issues related to the seminar topic. These class discussions and debates form a significant part of the module, and will allow students to approach and examine a given topic through team work.


This module is at CQFW Level 6