Ethics in International Relations - POLI5590

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


The aim of this module is to explore the role of ethics in international politics. We examine the meaning of morality and ethical judgement in the context of a number of issues and practices in international relations, including wars, terrorism, human rights, global inequality and multinational corporations. Students will critically assess the ethical practices of states and non-state actors through theoretical analysis, case studies and simulation exercises


Contact hours

11 lectures and 11 seminars

Method of assessment

50% Coursework (2 seminar simulations (15%), 3000 word essay (35%)); 50% exam

Indicative reading

Amstutz M International Ethics: Concepts, Theories and Cases in Global Politics, 3rd ed., Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008
Bell, D., ed. Ethics and World Politics, Oxford University Press, 2010.
Walzer M Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, New York: Basic Books, 2006

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
- Understand the complexity of ethical issues and the extent to which ethical judgements are applicable to international practice
- Summarise and critically assess the dominant theories of international ethics
- Understand and evaluate critical approaches to international morality in light of universalist and particularist arguments
- Evaluate the ethics of key practices of international politics
- Assess the role of human rights in international politics
- Apply theoretical perspectives to case studies
- Identify the practical and ethical problems and limits of international law, state sovereignty, and international justice with regard to key state and non-state practices.


  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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