Theories of Justice - 2017

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 3
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2017: Sem1 , Sem2
  • Availability for 2018: Sem1 , Sem2
  • Assessment: Analysis Task - Comparative Analysis (30%) , Essay (40%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 793.00
HECS 793.00
International 1,043.00

This unit was previously known as PHI320 Theories of Justice.

What is justice? This unit explores this important question by examining a number of leading contemporary philosophical theories of justice, including John Rawls's influential theory of justice, and assessing the capacity of these theories to respond to pressing social issues. To do this we look at issues of inequality and diversity in society by asking: what degree of inequality, if any, can be justified? We explore the different answers to this question proposed by liberals, libertarians, and Marxists. We shall also examine broader social questions around justice, such as: should we focus more on the well-being of communities and less on the rights of individuals? Is justice biased against women? Should minorities receive special protections and privileges? How can we justify punishing those who violate justice? What are the obligations of democratic citizenship? And what do we owe the poor in other countries?

At the completion of this unit students will have:

  1. a good general knowledge of some of the major theories and current debates in contemporary political philosophy
  2. an ability to understand and analyse arguments in the relevant literature
  3. an ability to evaluate these theories and arguments critically
  4. the ability to develop your own view or perspective through consideration and analysis of the views and arguments presented in the unit
  5. clarity of thought, clarity of written expression and exposition. 
  • Analysis Task — Comparative Analysis (30%)
  • Essay (40%)
  • Participation (15%)
  • Quizzes (15%)

Equivalent units

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following unit(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • PHI320 — Theories of Justice

You must complete some Level 1 and 2 studies before starting this unit. Prior study in Philosophy is recommended.

This unit addresses the following topics.

1Section 1: Equality and Inequality - Introduction: Equality and Diversity
2Section 1: Utilitarianism
3Section 1: Rawls Theory of Justice
4Section 1: Dworkin on Equality (Luck Egalitarianism)
5Section 1: Nozick's Libertarianism
6Section 1: The Capabilities Approach
7Section 1: Communitarian Critiques of Liberalism
8Section 2: Diversity, Citizenship and Justice - Feminism, Liberalism and Justice
9Section 2: Social Groups and the Politics of Difference
10Section 2: Deliberative Democracy
11Section 2: Multiculturalism
12Section 2: Multiculturalism, Gender and Justice
13Section 2: Global Justice
14Section 2: Justice and Cosmopolitanism

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Online assignment submission
  • Podcasting/Lecture capture
  • Standard Media
  • Web links

Online materials

  • Printable format materials
  • Resources and Links

This unit is an approved elective in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a unit.

Click on the titles of the listed books below to find out more:

Required textbooks

  • Contemporary Political Philosophy


    ISBN: 9780198782742


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

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