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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL3723 War, Terror and Justice

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Joseph Bowen

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not 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 module will typically include such topics as:

Just War Theory
Self Defence
National Self-determination
Humanitarian Intervention
The Morality of Torture
International Justice

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours175.00
Total Contact hours25.00
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.

The following is a guide:

Essay preparation and writing: 60 hours
Seminar prep and reading: 54 hours (6 hours per class)
Lecture follow up: 61 hours (3-4 hours per lecture)

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: 02/07/2024


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