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Just War Theory


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact the co-ordinator of studies.


It is generally wrong to intentionally kill or severely injure another human being. How, then, can war or violence ever be morally or legally permissible? Pacifists think that it is never permissible. However, many think that under rare circumstances the use of force is morally permissible or even required. In recent decades, scholars have made important contributions to and revisions of the just war theory tradition. This course examines these contemporary debates and developments about when the use of force is permissible and how it relates to central concepts of international relations such as state sovereignty. We will additionally consider contemporary issues as the responsibility to protect (R2P), alternatives to the use of force like sanctions, cyberattacks, terrorism, and how to respond to mass atrocities. We will ground discussions on whether specific cases of the use of force were morally justified. Connections will be made to international restrictions on the use of force and accountability mechanisms for violating international norms and international law such as the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the International Criminal Court.

Course objectives

  1. Understand the main tenants of the just war tradition.
  2. Apply the ideas presented in the course to assess specific cases of the use of force.
  3. Understand the main alternatives to the use of force.
  4. Develop an original argument related to the use of force or its alternatives.


Via the website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Breakdown: to be determined.
Total: 280 Hours for 10 ECTS.

Assessment method

To be determined.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit for the final examined element is only available to students whose mark of the final examined element is insufficient.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Yes, see Blackboard.

Reading list

To be announced through Blackboard.


Via uSis.


Dr. Eamon Aloyo