Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Government and International Affairs


Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To the main aim of this module is to provide students with an advanced knowledge of the crucial debates concerning the nature of ethical obligations between persons living in different political communities.


  • The module addresses issues such as: the nature and justification of different responses to global terrorism; the distributive consequences of global financial markets; the nature and extent of moral obligations towards the global poor; the moral and political consequences of global inequality; and the moral justification of human rights.
  • The module will present different theoretical positions and authors by drawing on current debates in the fields of international ethics and international political theory. Questions that arise in these debates include: does the idea of justice make sense in the global context? Does the global order violate the poor’s rights? Do we have special obligations toward fellow citizens? Is democracy a universal right? What is a human right?

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • SSK 2: an advanced knowledge of the applied aspects connected to the moral evaluation of international organizations and global governance institutions ;
  • SSK4: an advanced knowledge of the main approaches to international ethics and global political philosophy. ;
Subject-specific Skills:
  • SSS1: to develop the ability to analyse complex topics in political science and international relations broadly construed and to do so on the basis of directed and independent learning;
  • SSS2: to develop the technical, and qualitative research skills necessary to pursue research in political science and international relations;
  • SSS3: to carry out research in political science and international relations through independent work;
  • SSS4: to weigh critically qualitative and quantitative evidence in social and political analysis.
Key Skills:
  • KS1: the ability to think critically and creatively and to argue coherently;
  • KS2: the ability to think independently, including problem-solving ability and the ability to discriminate and use judgement;
  • KS3: the ability to organise data, abstract meaning from information and share knowledge at an advanced level;
  • KS4: the ability to communicate effectively across specialised subject areas in political science and international relations both orally and through written work.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students will be taught and learn through self-guided learning, lectures, class discussion, and seminars.
  • Students are taught through one-hour lectures, followed by one-hour seminars. Each lecture will introduce the students to the key theoretical approaches or data relevant to the theme of the lecture. The lectures will be tailored to accommodate the differential knowledge and disciplinary skills of different cohorts and to make sure that students approach subsequent seminars with an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding.
  • The lectures will be followed by one-hour seminars during which students are required to individually present the weekly material to their peers. During seminars students are also encouraged to explore the lecture content in greater detail and to identify areas in which they require particular guidance, for example on further reading. The seminars will enable students to develop their abilities to conduct research, to communicate, to present theoretical alternatives and data, and to develop their own argumentation skills. Class discussion encourages background reading, contributing to the students’ independent learning. It will further allow students the opportunity to exchange ideas, to explore issues and arguments that interest or concern them in greater depth, and to receive feedback from both the group and the lecturer on their own arguments and understanding.
  • Students will be assessed through a final 3000 words essay. The essay formally tests skills of synthesis, analysis and critical evaluation with reference to material drawn from the module. It tests students’ ability to formulate complex arguments in articulate and structured English, within the discursive conventions and genres of academic writing (within an exam context). Exams indirectly test students’ ability to use sophisticated techniques of information retrieval and management, and to manage their time effectively. Each student will also be assessed on their ability to orally present their work through group presentations at the end of term. Student will receive collective feedback (i.e. feedback for the group presentation) from the MSc Global Politics teaching staff (the reference here is to teaching staff responsible for the delivery of the core modules). Assessed presentations provide students with the opportunity to show their skills in synthetizing the content of the directed reading assigned on a weekly basis and to show that they can organise their ideas in a coherent and effective way. The assessment of presentations is crucial in determining the students’ ability to communicate their ideas orally.
  • Students will receive written feedback on formative work in all core modules to enable them to assess their understanding of the material before the examination. The formative work will consist in a short essay during the first part of the Michelmas and Easter terms (depending on when the modules are delivered) and of formative feedback on the weekly formative presentations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 9 weekly 1 hour 9
Seminars 9 weekly 1 hour 9
Preparation and reading 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Presentation 25-35 minutes 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 90%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Presentation of 10-15 minutes with written feedback. Essay 2,000 words with written feedback.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University