Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POC2012: The Ethics and Politics of Humanitarian Intervention

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.

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


NQF Level 5
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Sarah Bulmer (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


This module introduces you to the controversial practice of humanitarian intervention in world politics. Since the 1990s there has been an increasing trend towards Western military intervention in developing states in the name of human rights and acts which ‘shock the conscience of mankind’ (Waltzer).  Many questions arise concerning this practice: Does humanitarian intervention work? Is it morally legitimate? Is it legal? Should we be concerned with the increasing legitimacy of military intervention by the West in Third World countries? How does military intervention be understood within wider practices of aid and intervention? Are NGO’s accountable? How are humanitarian interventions represented in the news media and other cultural productions (e.g. film)? In this module you will be introduced to a range of approaches and will be encouraged to analyse contemporary policy and practice.


Assessment in the module is 100% portfolio. The advantage of this method of assessment is that you will be working on your assessed pieces throughout the module and you will receive informal feedback on them during seminars (from the tutor and your peers). Each seminar will have a linked portfolio activity and you will be required to submit three of these pieces in your final portfolio (totally 3,500 words). 

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