AZA3640 - Philosophy of war and global conflict - 2018

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

South Africa School of Social Science

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Thando Nkohla


Dr Reza Husseini

Unit guides


South Africa

  • First semester 2018 (On-campus)


AZA2640, ATS2640, ATS3640


The unit adopts a global perspective but looks at issues through a South African and African lens. We examine questions such as: When, if ever, is warfare justified? What about humanitarian intervention? What about violent revolution and terrorism? Why should civilians be protected in conflict? These issues are linked to the situation in Africa, with particular reference to some of the vexing dilemmas encountered within this context, such as terrorism, dictatorships and civil war. 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 the unit at 3-level will:

  1. have a high level of understanding of the central ideas of just war theory;
  2. appreciate and be able to explain 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;
  7. be able to critically assess the situation in Africa and its accompanying political dilemmas as it relates to issues of violence and justice;
  8. be able to philosophically interpret the political landscape in Africa and how it relates to the rest of the world.


Within semester assessment: 100%

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

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