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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2010 Undergraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2010
Coordinator(s)Terry Macdonald


This unit explores tensions between the moral imperatives of 'global justice', and the practical realities of international power-politics (or 'Realpolitik').
The unit examines several normative (ethical) theories of justice, which attempt to explain what citizens of different societies owe to one another in three key areas: the distribution of resources; the exercise of political power; and compensation for past wrongs.
It then analyses how the dynamics of global power-politics can undermine the pursuit of these forms of justice, and explores some institutional innovations aimed at better aligning these political dynamics with the moral imperatives of global justice.


Upon successful completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. An understanding of key normative (ethical) concepts and theories of global justice. These include: theories of 'distributive' justice (concerned with the just distribution of resources across the world population); theories of 'political' justice (concerned with the just and democratic exercise of political power on a global stage); and 'restorative' justice (concerned with just compensation for past wrongs, such as those associated with past war and colonization).
  2. An understanding of the concept of 'power' in world politics, and of how the political realities of international power-politics (or 'Realpolitik') undermine the pursuit of many ideals of 'global justice' in practice.
  3. An understanding of some key global institutions (and new institutional proposals) aimed at regulating the exercise of power in world politics to make it better comply with principles of global justice. These include institutions aimed at the following: the regulation of state power through International Organizations and International Law; the regulation and accountability of powerful private Corporations and private security companies; the regulation and accountability of International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs); and the design of a just cosmopolitan institutional structure.
  4. An ability to apply some normative (ethical) theoretical concepts and critical analytical methods to practical problems of global policy and institutional design.
Students successfully completing PLT3940 will be expected to demonstrate, in addition:
  1. Enhanced skills in the formulation and development of an independent research project focused on focused on debates about justice and power in world politics.


Oral presentation of topics (equivalent to 500 words): 10%
Essay (2000 words): 40%
Examination (2 hours): 50%

Contact hours

One 1-hour seminar and one 1-hour tutorial per week

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

Human rights theory


A first-year sequence in Politics or permission