Surrey University Stag

ETHICS, KILLING, AND WAR - 2023/4

Module code: POL3093

Module Overview

Since the US anti-Vietnam War movement, philosophical interest in armed conflict has increased considerably. Beginning with Michael Walzer's classic Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations (1977), this module looks at key thinkers, themes, and ideas from contemporary just war theory and the ethics of armed conflict, mostly from within the analytical tradition of philosophy. Topics include the paradigm of self-defense and its critics, the moral status of combatants, the normative sources (and limits) of non-combatant immunity, the moral nature of terrorism, as well as the problem of intervention. The module concludes by examining more recent ethical challenges posed by remote-warfare, cyber warfare, and the prospect of robotic weapons. In studying these topics, students will not only gain a sound understanding of contemporary just war theory; they will also be introduced to key ideas and concepts from contemporary ethical and political theory. Finally, students will be able to apply the more abstract philosophical material discussed on the module to real-life events via an assessed Ethics Case Study

Module provider

Politics

Module Leader

LEVERINGHAUS Alex (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code:

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

N/A

Module content

Beginning with Michael Walzer's classic Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations (1977), this module looks at key thinkers, themes, and ideas from contemporary just war theory and the ethics of armed conflict, mostly from within the analytical tradition of philosophy. Topics include the paradigm of self-defense and its critics, the moral status of combatants, the normative sources (and limits) of non-combatant immunity, the moral nature of terrorism, as well as the problem of intervention. The module concludes by examining more recent ethical challenges posed by remote-warfare, cyber warfare, and the prospect of robotic weapons

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Ethics Case Study 40
Coursework Essay 60

Alternative Assessment

N/A

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:


  • Their familiarity with core issues and concepts in debate on contemporary just war theory.

  • Their ability to choose, and offer their own interpretation of, an essay question.

  • Their capacity to integrate material from different weeks, thereby showing that they have command of the literature.

  • Their ability to reflect critically on armed conflict as a practice, as well as its potential theoretical justification.

  • Their ability to question the sustainability of contemporary international practices.

  • Their ability to apply abstract philosophical material to real-life events.



Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • An Ethics Case Study (Coursework 1, 40%).

  • An Essay (Coursework 2, 60%).


Module aims

  • Introduce students to ethical issues in the field of armed conflict
  • Provide students with a comprehensive picture of contemporary just war theory and the ethics of armed conflict
  • Enable students to critically assess the arguments made in specific areas of the ethical debate on armed conflict
  • Encourage students to critically consider how key terms are used in ordinary political discourse (e.g., war, terrorism, civilians etc.)
  • Develop students verbal and written skills
  • Develop students¿ cultural and global skills by asking them to consider the historical and cultural contingency of their own experiences with regard to armed conflicts
  • Enable students to integrate abstract philosophical work and practical analysis

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Knowledge of key concepts and core issues in the debate on contemporary just war theory K
002 Ability to integrate ethical issues and practical concerns CK
003 Ability to critically reflect on armed conflict and its associated practices C
004 Understanding of how and why practices of armed conflict have differed culturally and historically, not least due to the impact of technology K
005 Develop Research, Debating, and Writing Skills PT
006 Global and Cultural Skills PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:


  • Produce well-rounded students: that is, students with a comprehensive understanding of the ethical debate on armed conflict who are able to integrate material across teaching weeks.

  • Introduce students new to just war theory to the main philosophical approaches to it.

  • Develop students' reading and textual comprehension skills by asking them to engage with often difficult and challenging literature in the field of ethics and political theory.

  • Assist students in transitioning from L5 to L6 level in terms of the centrality of classroom debate for the latter.

  • Support students, especially in the initial weeks of the module, in their understanding of the material via additional digital resources and captured content.


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POL3093

Other information

Students are encouraged to submit plans for the two pieces coursework and to see the module leader during his feedback and consultation hours. Each piece of coursework will receive substantial and constructive written feedback via Surrey Learn. Students are more than welcome to discuss the written feedback with the module leader.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Politics and Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
International Relations BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics and Economics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Public Affairs MPA 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.