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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2010 Undergraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedSouth Africa First semester 2010 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Rob Sparrow


When, if ever, is warfare justified? What about humanitarian intervention? What about violent revolution and terrorism? Why should civilians be protected in conflict? This unit will introduce students to theoretical approaches to the ethics of conflict that will allow them to answer these difficult questions. It will also serve to introduce students to basic ideas in moral and political philosophy. No background in philosophy is required: merely an interest in rational argument applied to global conflict.


Students successfully completing this unit at 3-level will:

  1. have a high level of understanding of the central ideas of just war theory;
  2. appreciate a wide variety of criticisms of just war theory;
  3. have developed the ability to apply philosophical theories of justice in conflict to actual cases from recent history;
  4. be able to develop and critically assess arguments about the justification of violence in the pursuit of political ends;
  5. have improved their ability to effectively communicate about complex issues in international affairs.
  6. have developed their ability to conduct independent research on topics of international justice.


Written work: 80% (3500 words)
Test: 20%

Chief examiner(s)

Pieter Duvenage

Contact hours

One 2-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Human rights theory
International studies


A first year sequence in International Studies, Philosophy, or Bioethics.



Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: