Human Rights and Global Justice

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
18 December 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module explores the nature and foundations of international obligations. It asks what we owe to people in other countries, and what they can demand of us as a matter of right.

Questions to be addressed include the following: Who owes what to the very poor? Are citizens of affluent countries complicit in the creation and maintenance of world poverty? Does justice demand the elimination of global inequality? What human rights do we have? When is international trade unfair? Do states have a right to close their borders to outsiders? Under what conditions (if any) is it permissible to wage war? What are the poor and oppressed permitted to do in order to alleviate their plight?

We will address these questions by considering the answers that they have received in important recent works of normative political philosophy.

Module aims

1. To introduce you to, and to stimulate your interest in, the study of human rights and global justice from the perspective of normative political theory.
2. To equip you with an understanding of the relevance of theoretical debates about global justice to public policy controversies that involve global justice.
3. To encourage you to question your own beliefs about what a just world looks like and to enable you to begin to formulate a vision of such a world for yourself.

Module learning outcomes

1. To understand the nature of normative argumentation and its value to the study of politics.
2. To engage in clear verbal and written normative argumentation. You will acquire a greater confidence and ability to express what you believe is just and to express your scepticism about proposals about global justice.
3. To scrutinise arguments made by politicians and other prominent figures in the media about human rights and global justice.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered with (i) a weekly pre-recorded lecture and (ii) a weekly interactive lecture. The interactive lecture will consist of one 50-minute lecture in which students can ask questions about, and discuss various aspects of, the pre-recorded lecture and the assigned readings with the module supervisor.


  • Nussbaum, Martha Craven. (2011) Creating capabilities: the human development approach, Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Caney, Simon. (2010) 'Climate change and the duties of the advantaged', in Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. vol. 13 (1) , pp.203-228
  • Tan, Kok-Chor. (2004) Justice without borders: cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and patriotism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Peter Singer. (1972) 'Famine, Affluence, and Morality', in Philosophy & Public Affairs: Wiley. vol. 1, pp.229-243
  • Frowe, Helen. (2016) The ethics of war and peace: an introduction, London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Pogge, Thomas. (2004) '"Assisting" the Global Poor', in The ethics of assistance: morality and the distant needy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press., pp.260-288
  • James, Aaron. (2013) Fairness in practice: a social contract for a global economy, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • (2014) Contemporary debates in applied ethics, Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. vol. Contemporary debates in philosophy
  • Caney, Simon. (2009) 'Cosmopolitanism and Justice', in Contemporary debates in political philosophy, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. vol. Contemporary debates in philosophy
  • Miller, David. (1995) On nationality, New York: Clarendon Press.
  • McMahan, Jeff. (2007) '“Just War” in A companion to contemporary political philosophy', in A companion to contemporary political philosophy, Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  • Risse, M. (2007) 'Fairness in trade I: obligations from trading and the Pauper-Labor Argument', in Politics, Philosophy & Economics. vol. 6 (3) , pp.355-377
  • Barry, Brian; Goodin, Robert E. (1992) Free movement: ethical issues in the transnational migration of people and of money, London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
  • Wellman, Carl. (2011) The moral dimensions of human rights, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Singer, Peter. (2016) One world now: the ethics of globalization, New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Charles R. Beitz. (2001) 'Does global inequality matter?', in Metaphilosophy: Wiley. vol. 32, pp.95-112

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay   21/01/2021  65% 
Written Exam  Online Quiz    35% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr James Christensen, email: james.christensen@essex.ac.uk.
Dr James Christensen
Module Supervisor: Dr Christensen, james.christensen@essex.ac.uk Module Administrator: Edmund Walker, govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Arzu Kibris
University of Warwick
Associate Professor
Available via Moodle
Of 132 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
132 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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