University Course Planner The University of Adelaide Australia

POLIS 7114 - The Ethics of War and Peace

Career: Postgraduate Coursework
Units: 6
Term: Semester 1
Campus: North Terrace
Contact: Up to 3 hours per week
Available for Study Abroad and Exchange: Yes
Available for Non-Award Study: No
Assessment: Tutorial Work, Class Test, Research Essay

This course is concerned with the ethics of war and peace in international politics. The approach taken is theoretical and practical. Students will be introduced to the major theoretical approaches to ethical questions in international relations (i.e. realism, pacifism, and just war theory) and will be expected to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses as well as apply their logic and insights to specific cases and scenarios.The central questions the course will explore include: Can the use of force ever be justified? Is there such a thing as a just war? Can pre-emptive and preventive strikes be justified on ethical grounds? Are the tenets of the just war tradition applicable to 21st Century conflicts? Is humanitarian intervention an ethical practice or a useful instrument for powerful nations? Can terrorism be justified on ethical grounds? Should terrorists be entitled to prisoner of war status? Can torture be justified to combat terrorism? Should we pay less attention to the ethics of war and more to the ethics of peace? What should be prioritised in post-war contexts: justice or peace? (How) Should we remember the past: let's forget vs lest we forget? These and other questions will be explored through the examination of a wide range of events, both past and present, including: WWI and WWII, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the 2003 Iraq War, the use of torture in Abu Ghraib, the killing of Osama bin Laden, the use of child soldiers in African conflicts, the 2007 cyberwar in Estonia, the 2011 military intervention in Libya, the tactics of Islamic State, the conflict in Syria, the reconstruction of Afghanistan, the tensions in the South China Sea, and the nuclear standoff with North Korea. The course will also examine the ethics of emerging military and security technologies, such as drones, robots, cyborgs, and cyberweapons.

Course Fees

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Student Status


What type of place are you studying in

Commonwealth supported
Full fee paying

Study Level

Postgraduate Coursework
Non Award

Program of Study

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Course Outline

A Course Outline which includes Learning Outcomes, Learning Resources, Learning & Teaching for this course may be accessed here

Critical Dates

Term Last Day to Add Online Census Date Last Day to WNF Last Day to WF
Semester 1 Tue 15/03/2022 Thu 24/03/2022 Fri 06/05/2022 Fri 10/06/2022

Class Details

Enrolment Class: Lecture
Class Nbr Section Size Available Dates Days Time Location
11311 LE01 30 18 28 Feb - 4 Apr Monday 2pm - 4pm Ligertwood, 333, Lecture Theatre
25 Apr - 30 May Monday 2pm - 4pm Ligertwood, 333, Lecture Theatre
Related Class: Tutorial
Class Nbr Section Size Available Dates Days Time Location
19652 TU01 30 20 1 Mar - 5 Apr Tuesday 4pm - 5pm Hughes, 111b, Teaching Room
26 Apr - 31 May Tuesday 4pm - 5pm Hughes, 111b, Teaching Room
20336 TU02 30 28 1 Mar - 5 Apr Tuesday 4pm - 5pm MyUni, OL, Online Class
26 Apr - 31 May Tuesday 4pm - 5pm MyUni, OL, Online Class