module specification

GI6063 - Human Rights and Social Justice (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Human Rights and Social Justice
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Seminar 20%   Seminar presentation
Coursework 80%   Essay (3000 words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module explores the philosophy, history and political practice of social justice and of international human rights.


Please note: This module supersedes GI3047

Module aims

To provide a historical and critical introduction to ideas, actions and institutions informing social justice, civil rights and universal human rights.

  • To relate philosophical theories and propositions to practices and issues of political, social, economic, legal and international justice, and therefore to policy-applicable prescriptions.
  • To elaborate arguments that are at once logical, evidenced and reflectively ethical.


Political, Individualist and Sociological Ideas of Ethics and Justice
The Genealogy of Sovereignty and Individual Rights
Universalist Declarations
Capitalism and Socialism
The Social Democratic Project
The Neo-Liberal Response
United Nations, Power Politics
The Problem of Pluralism
The Capabilities Approach
Communitarian Objections
A Responsibility to Protect?

Learning and teaching

This module is taught through three contact hours per week with students, divided between lecture (1 hour) and seminar (2 hours).  Students will be expected to prepare thoroughly for the seminars both in terms of completing the assessment (giving presentations) but also in terms of evaluating thepresentations in a formative way and participating in the seminar discussions. Indeed, the reflective
aspects of the module requires students to consider the political and ethical ideas of the module not only in abstract theoretical terms, but also in terms of ethical practice and transformation.Blended learning will be achieved through the use of the University’s web-based learning facilities and ITC in the classroom.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should have developed:

  1. an appreciation of the history of ethics and of the relation of that history to past and present politics;
  2. a critical understanding of the ethical potential and difficulties of social justice and of international human rights;
  3. the ability to scrutinize moral theories in the light of social facts and to evaluate social practices and national and international institutions ethically;
  4. the abilities to elaborate, justify, advance, defend and revise a logically structured argument supported by relevant textual and empirical evidence.

Assessment strategy

Seminar presentation (20%), scheduled weekly from week 2 onward, followed by 3,000 word summative essay (80%) which can be, but need not be, answering the same question as the presentation.


Aristotle (1999)  Nicomachean Ethics (trans. T. Irwin), Hackett, (2nd ed.), books 1-2, 5.
Blackledge, P.& Knight , K.(eds)(2011) Virtue and Politics: Alasdair MacIntyre's Revolutionary
Aristotelianism, University of Notre Dame Press.
Boucher, D.(2011) "The Recognition Theory of Rights, Customary International Law and
   Human Rights", Political Studies 59(3), 753-771.
Fives, A.(2008)  Political and Philosophical Debates in Welfare, Palgrave Macmillan.
Freeman, M.(2011) Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Polity Press, (2nd ed.).
Kant, I.(1990) "Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose", in Immanuel    Kant, Political Writings (ed. H. Reiss; trans. H.B. Nisbet), Cambridge     University Press, (2nd ed.).
Kao, G.Y.(2011)  Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World, Georgetown University Press.
Lutz, C. S.(2012)  Reading After Virtue, Continuum, 2012.
MacIntyre, A.(1988) Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, Duckworth.
MacIntyre, A.(1999) Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues,     Duckworth.  
MacIntyre, A.(2007) After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Duckworth (3rd ed.).
Maritain, J.(2012) Christianity and Democracy, and The Rights of Man and Natural Law, Ignatius
Marshall, T. H., &Bottomore, T. (1992) Citizenship and Social Class, Pluto.
Morsink, J.(2009) Inherent Human Rights: Philosophical Roots of the Universal Declaration,
   University of Pennsylvania Press.
Moyn, S.(2010)   The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, Harvard University Press.
Normand, R. &Zaidi, S.(2008) Human Rights at the UN: The Political History of Universal Justice,
Indiana University Press.
Nussbaum, M.(2011) Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach, Harvard     University Press.
Reus-Smit, C.(2011) "Struggles for Individual Rights and the Expansion of the International     System",International Organization 65(2), 207-242.
Sandel, M. J.(2010) Justice: What's the Right Thing To Do?, Penguin.
CASEP research resources