Global Ethics: Theories and Approaches

Modular Value: 20 credits
Duration: Term 1
Teaching: 2 hours per week

Lecturers: Professor T Sorell and Dr J Suikkanen

We will focus on the foundational concerns of international ethics. We explore what it means to ‘be good’ and to the ‘do the right thing’ and how we can think about different approaches to these questions in the global context. 

These theoretical issues are illustrated with real-world examples and explorations of theory will be illustrated with discussions of case studies. The key political philosophy approaches of realism, internationalism and cosmopolitanism will be introduced and we will also examine theories of liberalism, communitarianism and multiculturalism.

The course aims to develop:

  • an understanding of key ethical issues and theories that arise at the trans-state and global levels (in particular the nature of human wellbeing, the debates between consequentialists and their opponents, between liberals and their opponents, and between competing accounts of ethics in a global context.
  • the ability to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of competing arguments; and the ability to construct justifications for one’s own views and to meet possible objections to them.


  • 1 essay of 5,000 words.

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