Module Identifier IP32420  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Professor Howard L Williams  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Professor Howard L Williams  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   22 Hours Seminar (11 x 2 hours)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,000 word essay outline  20%
Semester Assessment Esay: 1 x 4,500 words  80%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
To acquire a clear understanding of the main ideas of the two thinkers and their relevance to contemporary society. This understanding should be expressed through a sound grasp of the following concepts: Rawls''s concepts of equality, liberty and distributive justice; Habermas''s concepts of the public sphere, democracy, constitutional patriotism and post-national identity.

Brief description

This module examines closely the main writings of John Rawls and Juergen Habermas. Particular attention will be paid to the points of contrast and the areas of agreement in their thinking. Students will also be given the opportunity to look at the development of the ideas of the two philosphers over time.


To introduce the ideas of two of the most influential of recent political thinkers: John Rawls and Juergen Habermas


Habermas and the Frankfurt School (1)
Habermas and German politics (2)
Habermas's concept of the public sphere (1)
The idea of discourse ethics (1)
Rawls's A Theory of Justice - the veil of
ignorance and the difference principle (2)
Political Liberalism and the politics of the United
States (2)
The "law of peoples"- international justice (1)
Rawls and Habermas compared - recapitulation and conclusion (1)

Transferable skills

This module will provide the opportunity for students to develop their oral, intellectual and communication skills. In the lectures emphasis will be placed on understanding, following the argument and summarizing it concisely. In the seminars emphasis will be placed on developing clear, cogent and persuasive arguments. The seminars offer the opportunity for students to show independent reasoning and judgement. Essay writing will encourage students to carry out research on their own initiative and to develop their IT presentation skills. The examination will test knowledge retention, comprehension and skills of analysis under conditions of time constraint.

10 ECTS credits

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
K Baynes The Normative Grounds of Social Criticism
J Rawls Theory of Justice


This module is at CQFW Level 6