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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LAW5400M Theories of Social Justice

30 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Stuart Goosey

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module introduces and engages key contemporary theories of justice that have shaped how we imagine and strive for more egalitarian societies. The module begins with John Rawls' theory of justice as fairness, a canonical work which has shaped post-war Western political theory. From Rawls, the module then tracks how theories of justice have extended this work, or challenged its limitations and claimed universality. In particular, we examine theories that have challenged the liberal subject that often inhabits the Western political imagination and also theories that have sought to bring the body in to our understandings of justice. As such, the module will consider a range of interdisciplinary theories including, postcolonial theory, cosmopolitanism, feminist approaches, the Capabilities Approach, Vulnerability Theory, and indigenous justice.


On completion of this module, students will be aware of and have a clear understanding of:
- key post-war theories of social justice;
- the inter-related development of these theories;
- academic criticism of the different theories;
- the debates that have critically analysed the effectiveness of the differing social justice theories.

Learning outcomes
At the end of this module, a student should have:
- a sound understanding of the theoretical models and debates that have shaped post-war academic and political debate around social justice;
- a sound understanding of the development of these social justice models;
- an ability to critically analyse the advantages and disadvantages of the different theories;
- an awareness of emerging theoretical models and debates.

Skills outcomes
Presentation skills


The module is taught through a series of 2 hour structured and interactive seminars. The first seminar introduces the module objectives, content and expectations and John Rawls' theory of justice as fairness. Rawls work provides much of the underpinning for subsequent theoretical developments covered in the module. The remaining seminars will focus on a range of theories that will depend on staff expertise and availability. They are likely to draw on the following list of topics that covers areas of current staff expertise:

Capabilities Approach (or justice as freedom?)
Feminist theories of justice
Indigenous justice
Dignity and the human rights project
Subaltern and postcolonial theories of justice
New corporeal humanisms
Vulnerability theory
Health justice
Posthumanism and the future of justice

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours280.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

10 hours preparation for each of the seminars = 100 hours
40 hours preparation for oral presentation (student semester presentations)
140 hours essay

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

During the module, student performance will be monitored in the following ways:
Seminars: Seminar leaders will be asked to send a note to the module co-ordinator after each seminar about the performance of the students present and indicating any concerns about students who are struggling.
Oral presentation: One or two students each week will be asked to prepare a 10 minute presentation addressing one of the required pieces of reading. Students will be given feedback on the substantive content, as well as the style, of their oral presentation.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 word essay60.00
Essay'take home' assessment - students will be required to answer 2 questions at 2,000 words max. each. Questions set Monday and to be submitted to Turnitin by Friday.40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 01/10/2019


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