Justice, Violence and the State - PHIL6200

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


Under what circumstances might it be permissible to use violence to further political goals? What distinguishes different sorts of political violence? Ought the state to have a monopoly on political violence? Are there some methods that should never be used to further political goals? In this course, we will look at the various forms of political violence, and consider how political and legal theorists have tried to regulate violent interaction between states and within states. We will examine the conceptual difficulties that arise when postulating international laws, and consider the role of the United Nations as international mediator and law enforcer. We will also look at the rights of self-determination amongst sub-national groups, and at the obligations of the international community to intervene to prevent humanitarian abuses.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40


Also available under PL621 (Level 6)

Method of assessment

Essay (2,500 words) – 50%
Group Presentation (20 minutes) – 10%
Written Assignment (1,000 words) – 30%
Seminar Performance – 10%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Altman, A. and Wellman, C.H. (2009) A Liberal Theory of International Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Coady, C.A.J. (2008) Morality and Political Violence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Held, V. (2008) How Terrorism is Wrong, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Walzer, M. (1977) Just and Unjust Wars, New York: Basic Books

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module, Level 5 students will be able to:

Outline and show understanding through clear expression of selected authors and topics in contemporary legal and political philosophy;
Demonstrate the foundations of skills in exegesis, critical analysis, and assessment of a small selection of contemporary journal articles in legal and political philosophy;
Outline and show understanding through clear expression of the arguments for and against (including counter replies, etc.), and the relationships between the topics covered in the class. These topics are likely to change from one year to the next, but have in the past included Legitimacy, Political Authority, Terrorism, Citizenship, International Law and Order;
Engage with original texts;
Engage in philosophical argumentation.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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