ATS2640 - The ethics of global conflict - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

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



Organisational Unit



Professor Robert Sparrow (on campus)

Dr Sam Butchart (off-campus)

Unit guides



  • First semester 2017 (Day)


  • First semester 2017 (Day)
  • First semester 2017 (Flexible)
  • Second semester 2017 (Flexible)
  • Summer semester A 2017 (Flexible)



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 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. understand the connections between human rights and war
  4. have developed the ability to apply theories of justice in conflict to actual cases from recent history
  5. be able to develop and critically assess arguments about the justification of violence in the pursuit of political ends
  6. have improved their ability to effectively communicate about complex issues in international affairs
  7. have developed their ability to conduct independent research on topics of international justice.


Within semester assessment: 70%

Exam: 30%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

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


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.


ATS3640, AZA2640, AZA3640