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Unit of study_

PHIL2663: Justice

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

This unit examines ethical questions concerning social justice. It surveys influential theories of which institutions and social relationships are necessary for a just society. The unit provides students with an overview of views of freedom and equality. Finally, it critically reviews attempts to reconcile these apparently conflicting goals, e.g. as they pertain to questions like: Is taxation theft? Is private education inegalitarian? Are there moral limits to markets? Should we be free to engage in speech that undermines others' statuses?

Unit details and rules

Unit code PHIL2663
Academic unit Philosophy
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 1000 level in Philosophy
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Luara Ferracioli,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Tutorial quiz Tutorial assessment
5% - 600 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Assignment Final essay
40% - 1800 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO2
Assignment Argument analysis assessment
15% - 600 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO2
Assignment Final exam
Take-home exam
40% Formal exam period n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

To be awarded to students who, in their performance in assessment tasks, demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars established by the faculty.


75 - 84

To be awarded to students who, in their performance in assessment tasks, demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars established by the faculty


65 - 74

To be awarded to students who, in their performance in assessment tasks, demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars established by the faculty


50 - 64

To be awarded to students who, in their performance in assessment tasks, demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars established by the faculty.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Political Philosophy and Justice Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 Introduction to justice Lecture (2 hr)  
Introduction to justice Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 03 Liberalism 1 Lecture (2 hr)  
Liberalism 1 Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 04 Liberalism 2 Lecture (2 hr)  
Liberalism 2 Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 05 Luck egalitarianism Lecture (2 hr)  
Luck egalitarianism Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 06 Relational egalitarianism Lecture (2 hr)  
Relational egalitarianism Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 07 Republicanism Lecture (2 hr)  
Republicanism Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 08 Capabilities approach Lecture (2 hr)  
Capabilities approach Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 09 Colonialism Lecture (2 hr)  
Colonialism Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 10 Global poverty Lecture (2 hr)  
Global Poverty Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 11 Immigration Lecture (2 hr)  
Immigration Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 12 Citizenship Lecture (2 hr)  
Citizenship Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 13 Climate change Lecture (2 hr)  
Climate Change Tutorial (1 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings



Week 1 Justice and Political Philosophy

Swift, A. 2008. “The Value of Philosophy in Nonideal Circumstances.”  Social Theory and Practice 34 (3): 363-387.

Week 2 Introduction to Justice  

Required: Kymlicka, W. 2002. Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (Second Edition), Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press. Chapter 1.


Kymlicka, W. 2002. Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (Second Edition), Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press. Chapter 2: Utilitarianism 

Week 3 Liberalism I

- Rawls, J. 1999. A Theory of Justice (Revised Edition), Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Sections 1-5, 11-13, 24-26. (please note: Sections, not pages).

Week 4 Liberalism II

- Nussbaum, M. C. 2011. “Perfectionist liberalism and political liberalism.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 39 (1): 3-45.

Week 5 Luck Egalitarianism

- Dworkin, R. 2000. Sovereign Virtue, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press. Chapter 2.

Week 6 Relational Egalitarianism

- Anderson, E. 1999. “What Is the Point of Equality?” Ethics 109: 287-337.

Week 7 Republicanism

- Pettit, P. (1997). Republicanism: a theory of freedom and government. OUP Oxford. Chapter 1 (Pages 17-19.5, 21.8- 27.2) & Chapter 2 (pages 51-58, 67.5-71.5).

Week 8 Capabilities Approach

- Robeyns, I. 2006. “The capability approach in practice.” Journal of Political Philosophy 14(3): 351-376.

Week 9 Colonialism

- Ypi, L. 2013. “What's wrong with colonialism.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 41(2): 158-191.

- Valentini, L. 2015. “On the Distinctive Procedural Wrong of Colonialism.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 43(4): 312–31.

Week 10 Global Poverty

- Pogge, T. 2008. World Poverty and Human Rights (Second Edition), Malden, MA, Polity Press. Pages 97-123.

- Singer, P. 1972. “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 1: 229-243.

Week 11 Immigration

- Christopher H. W. 2008. “Immigration and Freedom of Association.” Ethics 119 (1): 109-141.

- Fine. S. 2010. “Freedom of Association Is Not the Answer.” Ethics 120 (2): 338-356.

Week 12 Citizenship

- Brezger, J., & Cassee, A. 2016. “Debate: Immigrants and Newcomers by Birth—Do Statist Arguments Imply a Right to Exclude Both?.” Journal of Political Philosophy 24(3): 367-378.

- Ferracioli, L. 2018. “Citizenship for children: By soil, by blood, or by paternalism.”  Philosophical Studies 175 (11): 2859–2877.

Week 13 Climate Change

- Gardiner, S. M. 2006. “A perfect moral storm: Climate change, intergenerational ethics and the problem of moral corruption.” Environmental values, 397-413.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate a body of knowledge concerning social justice, and a firm grasp of the principles, practices, and boundaries of political philosophy
  • LO2. demonstrate an understanding of different conceptions of freedom, equality and fairness, and the tradeoffs that can come with promoting any particular value over others
  • LO3. identify, define, investigate, and solve problems of social justice as they arise in real life
  • LO4. develop your abilities to think independently, analytically and creatively about political questions.
  • LO5. critically analyse problems concerning social justice from multiple perspectives

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Due to feedback from the previous coordinator, I have swapped the week on equal citizenship for a discussion on the role of political philosophy under non ideal conditions.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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