Contemporary Theories of Justice

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
03 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

The study of politics includes not only the study of how the political world operates, but also the study of how it should operate. GV538 examines a set of issues that continue to receive considerable attention within contemporary normative political theory. More specifically, this module will introduce you to cutting edge research concerning theories of justice.

Rather than consider these issues in the abstract, we will examine various theories of justice through their application to concrete social and political controversies that are central to contemporary politics. Very roughly, this module is split into three parts and, together, these display a cradle-to-grave structure. We shall begin with (i) issues regarding parenting, education, and upbringing; then we shall consider (ii) issues concerning individuals' working lives; and we shall conclude by examining (iii) issues relating to later life and death.

Module aims

1. To enable you to understand the ethical and political implications of academic research and study.
2. To enable you to place the theoretical study of justice in the wider context of Political Science as an academic discipline.
3. To enable you to understand, critically to analyse, and to evaluate contemporary theories of justice.
4. To locate the concept of justice in contemporary political theory.

Module learning outcomes

Learning outcomes
1. To understand some key policy controversies in the study of social justice.
2. To understand the different contemporary approaches taken to the study of social justice.
3. To understand the place of the concept of social justice in contemporary political theory.
4. To be able to analyse rigorously the arguments provided for and against key policies that constitute social justice.
5. To write a clear analysis of a contemporary policy controversy.

Key Skills
1. To improve your critical thinking. You will learn how: to identify the premises and conclusions of arguments; to determine whether the conclusions follow from the premises; and to understand the practical implications of theory.
2. To improve your problem solving skills. You will learn: to establish the different values at stake in a given problem; and to determine how to resolve conflicts between competing claims.
3. To improve your own learning and performance. You will learn: to apply reason to controversial issues; to read texts critically; to prepare well-argued essays; to learn both self-confidence and your ability to learn from others.
4. To improve your ability to work with others. You will learn: to listen carefully and respectfully to others; to make reasoned contributions to discussions; and to be open to other perspectives and arguments.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

The module runs from weeks 16-25. You will have a 2 hour lecture. Mollie Gerver will give the 2 hour lecture, which will include opportunities for you to comment on the readings and arguments raised. The lectures provide the background to the texts and clarify the most important theoretical issues. The lectures have been written specifically for this module, and the material they contain does not appear in any other textbook. Therefore, regular attendance at lectures is essential for satisfactory performance in this module. Mollie Gerver will run the class which will take part directly after the lecture. Your attendance and participation in classes is mandatory. If for any serious reason you are unable to attend class you should notify the class teacher or the course administrator before the class. Unexplained failure to attend class will affect your final grade. In classes you will have the opportunity to discuss (and argue about!) the readings and lectures. The quality of discussion in class depends on you. If you and your fellow students are well prepared, you are likely to enjoy the class discussion, to benefit the most from it, and to succeed in the module.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay 1    35% 
Coursework   Essay 2    65% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Mollie Gerver, email: m.gerver@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Mollie Gerver
Module Supervisor Dr Mollie Gerver m.gerver@essex.ac.uk Module Administrator Jamie Seakens govpgquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Patrick Bayer
University of Glasgow
Lecturer in International Relations
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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