IR7009 - International Law and Global Justice

What will I learn on this module?

This module will engage with the political dilemmas we face in international relations today, and the concept, theories and practices that inform our decision-making in response. You will analyse a range of issues, such as the question of global solidarity in relation to issues such as under-development, natural catastrophes, conflict or human rights violations, the relative significance of culture, sovereignty and self-determination, and concepts such as consent, responsibility and autonomy.
You will investigate these dilemmas in light of international law, (power) politics and ethics, and how each inform, enable or constrain action. You will develop an appreciation of the problem of the indeterminateness of our knowledge of specific issues that despite their indeterminateness still require political action (including non-action).

How will I learn on this module?

This module consists of a mixture of taught elements, interactive workshops, and independent learning. The taught elements will cover theories and concepts that will enable you to engage critically with contemporary and emerging news stories of conflict and security challenges. You will engage in critical discussion and analysis with the lecturer and your peers in guided workshops and seminars. Here, you will engage in case study learning, which seeks to bring to life the ethical dilemmas we face in international relations. You will be presented with real and fictitious cases and are asked to respond by proposing solutions / actions based on a thorough analysis of the practical, legal, ethical and policy context.

Your learning will be supported by the electronic learning platform (eLP) Blackboard Ultra and electronic reading lists. You will receive formative feedback during workshops and seminars, and also summative feedback that will assist you in improving future work in response to your assignments.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your tutors will support you throughout your time at Northumbria. Module tutors are available for feedback and consultation on your understanding of the module, your overall learning journey and skills development during weekly office hours. You will be allocated a personal tutor for the duration of your degree with whom you may discuss your progress, your specific learning interests, your professional issues and any issues of well-being while at Northumbria University. Skills development will be part of your programme, in particular in relation to the dissertation.
The university additionally offers an extensive range of support service that you can access, including careers services, disability support services and learning support services (Library and skills).

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Critically analyse and evaluate theories of global justice
2. Critically analyse and discuss ethical dilemmas in their practical manifestation and the theoretical and policy implications that emanate from them
3. Appreciate the tension between politics, international law and ethics in global policy and decision-making

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
4. Deal effectively with the indeterminatedness of a given problem and our knowledge of emerging dilemmas in global politics
5. Evaluate a broad range of material (academic texts, policy reports, news items, films, blogs) to understand, assess and deconstruct global problems

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
6. Apply theories and advanced research skills to complex real-world problems in order to identify appropriate policy solutions
7. Demonstrate the difficulty in working with and recognising differences in culture and attitudes, the relative importance in recognising others as self-determining

How will I be assessed?

Formative feedback will be provided throughout the module.

Summative assessment is by means of
1) a 15 min group presentation in response to a case study, worth 20% of your overall mark
2) a 4,000 word report, worth 80% of your overall mark, which will assess your knowledge and understanding of an issue that poses an ethical dilemma in international relations, and your assessment of the theoretical and policy implications.

Feedback will be provided electronically.





Module abstract

We face a range of dilemmas every day as we engage with the world: Is FGM a cultural practice of value or a violation of human rights that requires international action? Who is responsible for the deaths by autonomous weapons? Should we provide development aid or help strangers i.e. people around the world in situation of need, be that in conflict, after natural disasters or when their human rights are violated? Is intervention legal and when? Finding answers to these questions is difficult as (power) politics, international law and morality inform what is necessary and what is possible in achieving ‘global justice’ – a good and workable solution that is sustainable and justifiable.
In this module you will engage with a range of such dilemmas, investigating their nature and potential solutions offered by theory, law, ethics and institutions. You will be faced with a number of cases, both fictitious and real, that require a solution and force you to act ‘as if’ you are part of the situation. This case study learning is an established method of advanced learning in law and business schools that specifically trains future leaders and decision-makers. Thus, you will learn to apply theories of global justice, and research and evaluate a range of academic and non-academic material to propose a (considered) way forward.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 16 months Full Time
2 other options available

Department Social Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start January 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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