MA Peace and Conflict Studies

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Governing in an Unjust World: Justice and International Relations

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI60182
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Questions of global justice, democracy, and legitimacy are at the forefront of both current political affairs and debates in contemporary political theory. In this course we shall become acquainted with these theoretical debates and learn how to use them in order to develop reasoned, informed views on some of the most pressing problems of  
global politics, such as global labour standards; world trade; migration; tax avoidance; global finance; climate change; and natural resource exploitation, and how state sovereignty should be conceived of in the contemporary global order. In so doing, we shall both assess existing international institutions, and think of new possible institutional solutions to address pressing global problems.  

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

  • Articulate the contents and underlying assumptions of various approaches to international justice and democracy.
  • Employ a rigorous analytical approach in critically evaluating the key theories tackled in the course.
  • Draw on normative theories to develop their own informed views on concrete questions that are prominent in current global affair.
  • Sketch, on that basis, institutional and policy proposals.

Teaching and learning methods

Sessions will be structured as follows. The first 60/75 minutes will consist of a seminar discussion on the topic addressed during the previous week’s lecture. Students will be required to have done all the compulsory reading previous to the seminar, and are encouraged to do some of the recommended and further reading. The seminar will normally start with an ice-breaking activity and be structured around the discussion group question. Some discussion in smaller groups might also take place. The last 45/60 minutes will be taken up by an interactive, introductory lecture on the topic of the following week.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 25%
Written assignment (inc essay) 75%

3000 word assessed essay 75%; seminar and Slack participation 25%.

Recommended reading

The following texts offer a good place to start

  • Caney, Simon, ‘International Distributive Justice’, Political Studies 49 (2001)
  • Pogge, Thomas, World Poverty and Human Rights, Polity, 2002
  • Iris Marion Young, “Responsibility and Global Labour Justice,” Journal of Political Philosophy (2004);
  • P. Dietsch and T. Rixen, “Tax Competition and Global Background Justice,” Journal of Political Philosophy (forthcoming, available at:;

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Juri Viehoff Unit coordinator
Miriam Ronzoni Unit coordinator

Additional notes



Return to course details