• Class Number 7711
  • Term Code 3060
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Max Fedoseev
    • Max Fedoseev
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 27/07/2020
  • Class End Date 30/10/2020
  • Census Date 31/08/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 03/08/2020
SELT Survey Results

This course offers a rich grounding in moral, social, and political philosophy with a focus on questions concerning social justice. Students will engage in a critical analysis of contemporary theories of social justice. Such theories advance principles for the moral assessment of social institutions in light of how they affect people. These institutions include laws and other social rules governing what kinds of goods can be owned by whom and how they are distributed, how markets and production systems are structured, what prospects various groups have, and, in general, how people pursue the good in their lives. The course will explore questions of institutional design and public policy in the context of real-world social injustices including social and material inequality; racial, gender, and sexuality-based oppression; and climate change. The course will also look at practical questions related to advancing social justice including civil disobedience, duties to assist victims of injustice and to fight for structural social change, the role of democracy in furthering social justice.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. identify issues in social justice;
  2. evaluate ideas and also critical responses to them in the literature related to social justice;
  3. discuss and analyse current issues in ethics and politics relating to social institutions;
  4. better understand the argumentative structures underlying many of the important papers written in the area of social justice; and,
  5. engage in philosophical discussion and debate, verbalising their interpretations and criticisms of the various ideas discussed throughout the course.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Justice and Morality: Social Structure as The Subject of Justice - In this introductory lecture, we will explore the notion of social justice and the divide between moral and political philosophy. We will look at some real-world examples of social injustice and discuss their structural causes.
2 Utilitarianism as a Theory of Justice - Prior to the publication of Rawls’s “A Theory of Justice” in 1971, utilitarianism ruled political philosophy in the English-speaking world and still remains a major influence. We will look at key utilitarian ideas as applied to social justice.
3 Justice as Fairness - We will look at John Rawls’s principles of justice and his arguments for them and against utilitarianism. First reading response essay due.
4 Rawls’s Egalitarianism -We will look in more detail at Rawls’s notions of fair equality of opportunity and the difference principle, the idea that material inequalities are justified only insofar as they maximally benefit the worst off.
5 Nozick’s Libertarianism and Critique of Rawls-?Do egalitarian institutions impermissibly interfere with individuals’ rights? Is taxation theft? We will look and Nozick’s libertarian theory of justice and evaluate his critique of Rawls.
6 Justice, Family, and Women: Feminist Critiques of Rawls-Our institutions and social practices systematically disadvantage women. Can Rawls’s theory adequately thematise this pervasive social injustice? How do his principles of justice apply to the institution of family, and do they? We will look at and evaluate feminist critiques of Rawls’s theory. Second reading response essay due.
7 Justice and Oppression: Critiques of the Distributive Paradigm -Rawls’ principles of justice are defended on the basis of how a society governed by them would distribute certain goods: things like liberty, wealth, etc. But is social justice really and only about distributing such goods? We will explore and critically examine the idea that such “distributive paradigm” doesn’t fully capture many important forms of social injustice.
8 The Right and the Good: Rawls and Liberal Neutrality -Rawls’s theory of justice purports to be impartial between various conceptions of the good life: justice is about organising our basic social institutions according to certain political ideals, but has nothing to say about how one should live one’s life within those institutions. But isn’t that itself a contested conception of the good life? Moreover, shouldn’t social justice be partial to certain important goods such as environmental health and solidarity? Third reading response essay due.
9 Ideal and Non-ideal Theory -What role can theories of justice play in advancing social justice in the real world? Rawls thought that laying out an “ideal” theory is the only way to systematically approach that task. But is that so? Does his theory abstract from the real world too much to be of any use in our actual struggles in non-ideal circumstances? Do we need a theory of justice at all to know how to make our society more just?
10 Civil Disobedience-On the one hand, the rule of law is a cornerstone of justice in modern context. On the other, civil disobedience has been a major means through which people have exerted pressure on their governments to address social injustices. So does social justice require us to both obey and disobey the law? When and why ought we to engage in civil disobedience in the fight for social justice? Major research essay due
11 Duties to Address Injustice: Structural Change and Direct Assistance to Victims -Our world is full of grave injustices. What duties do various agents have to address them and on what grounds? Should we focus on assisting the current victims or on structural social change?
12 Justice and Democracy -A Rawlsian just society is a democracy. A democracy, however, is not necessarily socially just. Yet, perhaps democracy, suitably construed, can be instrumental in achieving social justice? We will explore the link between these two central ideals of political philosophy and theory, democracy and justice.
13 EXAM Take-home exam due

Tutorial Registration

On Wattle

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Tutorial participation and peer feedback 10 % * 1,2,3,4,5
Short Reading Response Essay 1 5 % 10/08/2020 1,2,3,4
Short Reading Response Essay 2 5 % 31/08/2020 1,2,3,4
Short Reading Response Essay 3 5 % 28/09/2020 1,2,3,4
Major Research Essay (2300 words) 45 % 19/10/2020 1,2,3,4
Take-home exam (1700 words) 30 % 09/11/2020 1,2,3,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Participation marking criteria:

Outstanding contributor: Contributions in class reflect extensive preparation. Ideas offered are usually substantive; provide major insights and direction for class discussion. Challenges are substantiated and persuasive. Makes an important contribution to class discussion overall. (HD)

Good contributor: Contributions in class reflect thorough preparation. Ideas offered are often substantive; provide useful insights and some direction for class discussion. Challenges are substantiated and often persuasive. Makes a significant contribution to class discussion overall. (D)

Adequate contributor: Contributions in class reflect adequate preparation. Ideas offered are sometimes substantive; provide some insight but rarely offer direction for class discussion. Challenges are sometimes presented, substantiated and persuasive. Makes a contribution to class discussion overall. (CR)

Unsatisfactory contributor: Contributions in class reflect inadequate preparation. Ideas offered are rarely substantive; rarely provide insight but do not offer useful direction for class discussion. Contributions may be distractions rather than constructive. Does not make a positive contribution to class discussion overall. (P)

Non-participant: This person says little or nothing in class. There is not an adequate basis for evaluation. Makes no contribution to discussion. (F)

In order to get participation marks, students are required to bring their reading responses to tutorials and participate in the peer feedback activity (see Assessment Task 1).

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Tutorial participation and peer feedback

Students are required to prepare for classes and to participate in discussion of required readings and lecture material. Each student’s participation mark is based in part on the extent to which they come to class well-prepared, having done the required reading and having completed the weekly set exercises (see below). It is also based on the extent to which students make a constructive contribution to classroom discussion.


In preparation for every tutorial, students are required to write a short (300 words maximum) response, presenting their considered reflection on the assigned readings. Questions and guidelines for these responses will be available on Wattle. These entries must be brought each week to tutorial for peer review and discussion: in class, students will read each other’s responses and give each other feedback. Three of these written responses, after revision and polishing following the tutorial discussions, must be submitted for grading as separate assignments (see below). Students can choose which of their reading responses in the relevant period they want to submit for grading. This exercise serves to familiarise students with marking criteria and prepare, throughout the semester, for writing the research essay and take-home exam in the end of the course. Tutorial activities will not be limited to this exercise.

These weekly responses aren't as much extra work as it might seem. In preparing them, you'll be doing the work you'd have to do anyway in order to complete all the other assignments and do well in the course. These weekly exercises will help you to spread that work more evenly throughout the semester and have the benefit of giving you ongoing feedback on it in tutorials.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 10/08/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Short Reading Response Essay 1

Students will submit one of the reading responses prepared for tutorials in the first two weeks for grading as a short essay. Word limit: 300. Before submission, students are encouraged to revise and polish the response to incorporate the peer feedback and insights gained in tutorial discussions. Questions will be provided on Wattle.

Marking criteria and guidelines for writing essays will be available on Wattle.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 31/08/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Short Reading Response Essay 2

Students will submit one of the reading responses prepared for tutorials in weeks 3-5 for grading as a short essay. Word limit: 300. Before submission, students are encouraged to revise and polish the response to incorporate the peer feedback and insights gained in tutorial discussions. Questions will be provided on Wattle.

Marking criteria and guidelines for writing essays will be available on Wattle.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 28/09/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Short Reading Response Essay 3

Students will submit one of the reading responses prepared for tutorials in weeks 6-7 for grading as a short essay. Word limit: 300. Before submission, students are encouraged to revise and polish the response to incorporate the peer feedback and insights gained in tutorial discussions. Questions will be provided on Wattle.

Marking criteria and guidelines for writing essays will be available on Wattle.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 45 %
Due Date: 19/10/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Major Research Essay (2300 words)

Students will be required to write a research essay in response to a question of their choice (Research essay questions will be provided on Wattle). Students will have received feedback on all of their short response essays prior to submitting the research essay.

Marking criteria and guidelines for writing essays will be available on Wattle.

Assessment Task 6

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 09/11/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Take-home exam (1700 words)

The course will finish with a take-home examination. You will have received feedback on all other assignments prior to the exam. You will have a one-day window (24 hours) in which to complete it. As a guide, it should take you around three hours if you've consistently done all readings and tutorial preparation throughout the semester.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

Hard copy submission is allowed only if approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned via Turnitin

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Max Fedoseev

Research Interests

Political philosophy, critical theory, structural injustice, environmental crisis, climate change

Max Fedoseev

By Appointment
Max Fedoseev

Research Interests

Max Fedoseev

By Appointment

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