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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL3723 War, Terror and Justice

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Gerald Lang

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Module replaces


This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This course will examine certain key ethical aspects of the international order: centrally, war, terrorism, and international justice.The course's exploration of the ethics of war is likely to pay attention to two sources: first, an examination of the traditional "Just War Theory", which was initially formulated in the medieval period, but which continues to enjoy a significant influence on the international law governing warfare; and second, from the theory of private self-defence, which is often taken to offer micro-foundations for Just War Theory.The topics that might be covered include: the compatibility between the two leading tenets of Just War Theory, jus ad bellum (which is concerned with the conditions under which war is legitimate) and jus in bello (which is concerned with morally proper conduct within war); terrorism, torture; and nuclear deterrence.Finally, we will study nationalism and international justice, paying particular attention to the debate between "cosmopolitans" (who think that national boundaries have little or no relevance to global distributive justice), and "non-cosmopolitans" (who think that national boundaries may be salient).


The central objectives of this course are:
1) to familiarise students withe some of the leading contemporary theories and debates which matter to moral analysis of war, terrorism, military conflict, and international justice;
2) to help students to critically engage with some of the philosophical debates arising from these issues.

Learning outcomes
The course will offer knowledge of the leading contemporary analytical literature on the phenomena outlined in the syllabus.


This is one possible syllabus:

Lecture outline:

Lecture 1: Just War Theory: an Introduction
Lectures 2-3: The Ethics of Killing: Pacifism and Self-Defence
Lectures 4-5: The Limits of Self-Defence and the Morality of War
Lectures 6-7: Analysing Jus ad Bellum: National Self-Determination and Humanitarian Intervention
Lecture 8-9: Analysing Jus in Bello: Non-Combatant Immunity and the Moral Equality of Soldiers
Lecture 10-11: The Morality of Torture
Lecture 12-13: What's Different about Terrorism?
Lecture 14: Deterrence and Arms Races
Lecture 15: Nationalism
Lectures 16-18: International Justice

Tutorial outline:

Tutorial 1: Pacifism, Self-Defence, and Killing
Tutorial 2: Analysing Jus ad Bellum
Tutorial 3: Analysing Jus in Bello
Tutorial 4: The Morality of Torture
Tutorial 5: The Morality of Terrorism
Tutorial 6: The Morality of Deterrence
Tutorial 7: International Justice

Plus perhaps two tutorials for group presentations

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours173.00
Total Contact hours27.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

A full general reading-list will be produced and included in the main module document: two or three journal articles will be picked out for recommendation for each lecture, together with further supplementary reading suggestions. For each of the five compulsory tutorials, there will be two compulsory articles/book chapters.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be given the opportunity to (a) receive feedback on draft essay outlines from the module leader; (b) to visit the module leader in his office hours (two hours per week for every week of full term); or (c) to arrange, by email, an appointment to see the module leader at some other time.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000 words (end of module)100.00
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: 30/06/2021 14:25:34


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