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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Postgraduate - Unit

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2011
Coordinator(s)Terry MacDonald


Previously coded PLM4030


This unit will explore a number of real-world ethical problems in world politics, arising as a result of political transformations associated with 'globalisation'. These include problems such as poverty and inequality in the global economy, just war and legitimate political violence in an age of terrorism, and the political legitimacy of state and non-state actors (including Corporations, NGOs, and International Organisations). This unit will further familiarise students with a range of ethical and normative political theories devised to help analyse and resolve such new ethical dilemmas in world politics, and encourage students to apply these critical tools to real-world ethical problems.


By the end of this unit, students will have achieved:

  1. Understanding of the practical and policy dimensions of a range of ethical problems in world politics, including: poverty and economic inequality; the character and prospects of 'fair trade' regimes and associated labour rights; human rights interventionism; justifications for new forms of political violence such as terrorism/the 'war on terror'; the power and political responsibility of corporations and NGOs; the democratic legitimacy of International Organisations; the rights of immigrants and refugees versus the right of states to control their borders; responsibility for climate change and future environmental protection.
  2. Knowledge of key normative and ethical theories pertinent to these practical ethical problems, including: Rawlsian, cosmopolitan, communitarian, and utilitarian theories of global 'justice' and ethics; classical and contemporary theories of 'just war' and ethical violence; theories of individual and state 'rights'; domestic and cosmopolitan 'democratic' theories; and ethical theories of 'responsibility'.
  3. Understanding of the theoretical basis for 'normative' methods of inquiry in world politics, and the way in which normative and empirical modes of analysis are distinct and inter-connected.
  4. Capacity to employ normative modes of theoretical analysis, in order to examine critically the ethical credentials and political legitimacy of political decisions and institutions in world politics.
  5. Capacity to employ normative modes of theoretical analysis, in order to critically engage with and evaluate key ethical assumptions and arguments in the theoretical literature on global ethics.
  6. Proficient oral communication and analysis skills, developed through class participation and presentations.
  7. Proficient writing skills, developed through writing two essays.
  8. Proficient research skills, developed in particular through work on the major research essay component of the course; these should be developed to a level capable of sustaining the commencement of PhD research.


Research essay (6000 words): 50%
Examination (3 hours): 40%
Class participation: 10%

Contact hours

One 2-hour seminar per week


ITM4030, ITM5030, PLT4030, APG5323, PLM5040