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Elective: Political Justice: Local and Global


Admission requirements

This course is only available for second year students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.


In the Netherlands, the richest 1% of the population posseses 25% of capital making it a very unequal society. Is this unjust? In the UK, there is a difference in life expectency between the very rich and the very poor of 25 years. Is this unjust? In the US, the very rich invest millions of dollars into election campaigns. Is this unjust? Same-sex marriage is possible in 21 countries in the world. Is it unjust that it is not possible in the 175 or so other countries? Moving to the global level: 2.7 billion people live on less than 2 dollar a day, whereas others live in great affluence. Is this unjust?

Most people will have strong intuitions about the cases mentioned above. And these are just a few examples: we make judgements about the justness of policies and behaviour on an almost daily basis. But what feature of the above examples do we object to, why are this examples of injustices, or why not? What underlying principles are – or should be – at work?

This seminar is devoted to discussing the main issues in contemporary political philosophy. Political philosophers have proposed several answers to the question of what justice requires, and from whom it requires what. We will look at different theories of justice like utilitarianism, liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, communitarianism and others. We’ll apply these theories to topics like the clash between freedom and equality, multiculturalism, distributive justice, democratic equality and global justice.

Additionally, the students will work through W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.
Academic skills that are trained include:
Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured written presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Seminar and supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 120 hours

  • Completion of short assignments: 36 hours

  • Researching and writing final paper: 50 hours

  • Papar proposal+ research: 40 hours

  • Class presentation: 10 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and Weighing

  • Several short assignments (30 %) – Class presentation (10 %) – Paper Proposal (10%) – Final Paper (50%) – Participation (rounding off final grade upwards or downwards)

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

To pass the course, the weighted average has to be 5.5 at least.


In case of resubmission of the final essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 days after receiving the grade for the final essay.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

In this course we will use several primary sources (cutting edge research articles and chapters) as well as secondary literature. We’ll read sections of books like: – John Rawls, A Theory of Justice – Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia – Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship – Susan Moller-Okin, Justice, Gender and the Family – Jonathan Wolff, An introduction to Political Philosophy – Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. T. Meijers


The deadline for submission of the final essay is 9 June 2017.

Passing this course is an entry requirement for the thesis and thesis seminar, elective year 3, and Practising Internatonal Studies.