Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POC2012: The Ethics and Politics of Humanitarian Intervention

This module descriptor refers to the 2017/8 academic year.

Please note that this module is only delivered on the Penryn Campus.

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to introduce you to a range of theoretical and practical issues in the study of humanitarian intervention and to enable students to critically analyse contemporary theory, policy and practice. The module begins by examining the key principles and international norms underlying humanitarian action and introduces the dominant theoretical positions (pluralism and solidarism) commonly used to assess the legality and legitimacy of humanitarian intervention. The wider economic and post-colonial context will then be explored with the aim of encouraging a critical reflection on the dominant perspectives, for example by asking what they assume, occlude and the political effects of this. The module then moves on to look at the change in the nature of conflict, the idea of ‘new wars’ and ‘Complex Political Emergencies’ the role of NGOs and the broader principles of humanitarianism, aid and development. Finally the representation of humanitarian emergencies in the news media and other cultural production is considered with the aim of encouraging you to critically analyse these representations. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. Discuss, analyse and critically evaluate competing theoretical perspectives in the study of humanitarian intervention in world politics;
2. Demonstrate familiarity with the empirical issues addressed;
3. Apply theoretical perspectives in order to analyse empirical issues in humanitarian intervention and be aware of the limitations and implications of each perspective;
Discipline-Specific Skills4. Grasp and apply a variety of theories found in Politics and International Studies in order to assess and/or critique each theory in its application to specific practices;
5. Locate these theories and the debates/questions which surround them in the larger context of the study of Politics, for example contending conceptualisations of sovereignty and rival framings of world politics;
6. Identify and engage with an array of case study material, involving web based data, academic journals, news sources and research monographs, in order to develop in-depth knowledge of particular issues;
Personal and Key Skills7. Engage with challenging literature and articulate complex ideas in written and oral form;
8. Design and deliver presentations to peers, communicate effectively in speech and writing.
9. Use ICT for both research and presentation purposes;
10. Facilitate group discussions and debate, to explain and discuss their own ideas and to select material suitable for inclusion in discussion (through student-led seminar discussions).