LWMMAG-Morality and Governance

Module Provider: School of Law
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Laura Bennett

Email: l.j.bennett@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module examines a cross-spectrum of moral, ethical, and governance issues that can arise in the context of different forms of crises (including financial ones), conflicts, and disasters. It is designed to encourage students to consider and grapple with some of the bigger questions and context in which law, policy, and practice occur from a wider, more conceptual perspective than they are perhaps normally exposed to. Students will start by considering the philosophical question of whether and how it is even possible to identify a meaningful definition of ‘disaster’, before examining the interrelationship between morality, ethics, governance and the law across a range of crisis, conflict and disaster related scenarios. The module concludes by asking students to reflect upon specific case studies and asks what, if anything, society has learned from past experiences, including in terms of moral development and the law. This is a multidisciplinary module taught by members of staff drawn from a number of different disciplines and schools across the University, such as Law, Philosophy, International Capital Market Association (ICMA), as well as external guest speakers.

It is easy to speak of concepts such as crises, conflicts, and disasters, but less easy to define them. This module encourages students to consider, critically evaluate, and debate these and other fundamental questions, the answers to which, or perhaps more accurately, possible answers to which, could inform and influence society’s attitudes and responses to such situations – whether natural or man-made. Do concepts of morality have any place within these different fields? Does the law that applies in natural and man-made disasters build upon or conflict with core moral values? What should the implications of fraudulent and corrupt practices be, which can be prolific in many countries, on the provision of development and humanitarian aid? What are some of the challenges in a conflict or disaster zone associated with inter-agency collaboration between actors with different mandates and operating procedures, and how might these be resolved? The module requires students to engage with these and other topical questions.

Assessable learning outcomes:
On completion of the module, students will be expected to be able to:

•Identify, understand, and explain the importance of different, sometimes competing, moral, philosophical, and ethical dilemmas that can arise in the context of diverse crises, conflicts, and disasters.
•Demonstrate a clear understanding of the relationship between moral, philosophical, and ethical issues and the development or application of global law and policy in situations of crisis, conflict, or disaster.
•Debate the relative merits of the moral, philosophical, ethical, and legal arguments covered on the module and apply these to different law and policy making as well as practice based scenarios.
•Demonstrate an ability to set the substantive law content of the module in a wider multi-disciplinary context.

Additional outcomes:
In addition to those listed in the School’s ‘core skills statement’, the module will encourage the development of:

•High-level oral communication skills through reflective, analytical class discussion, as well as more formal, assessed presentations; and

•Advanced critical thinking skills, including the ability to make connections across the different disciplines studied within the module.

Outline content:
Each seminar will cover a different topic, such as:

1.The concept of disaster: is a plausible and illuminating definition possible?

2.The morality of disaster: to what extent do governments, NGOs and individuals have a moral duty to try to prevent or minimise disastrous harms?

3.What role could or should law have in responding to disasters?

4.Some critical perspectives on underlying causes of, or obstacles to recovery from, different types of crises and disasters: consideration of the roles of socio-economic (including gender) inequalities, the political economy and international society.

5.How can the need for development aid and humanitarian assistance be reconciled with fraudulent and corrupt realities on the ground?

6.What are some of the challenges and consequences associated with inter-agency collaboration in response to conflicts or disasters, and how might these be resolved?

7.Aspects of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

8.Financial ethics and the prevention of crises, corruption and fraud.

9.What have we learned from past disasters in terms of moral development and the law?

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching in this module is designed to stimulate students to reflect upon and engage with different concepts, perspectives, and literature (such as philosophical, legal, and financial). Students will be provided with a range of resources from which they can draw in their learning. The main elements are:

•A list of required and recommended readings, with notes and questions that will be used to guide class discussion and reflection.
•Ten seminar classes of 2 hours each. These are discussion-based classes and will be led by a number of different teaching staff drawn from a variety of disciplines.
•Students will prepare an oral presentation (either individually or in groups depending on the number of students) on a topic relevant to the concepts and issues considered during the module.
•Students will be given an independent research assignment in the form of a written assessment on a topic relevant to the concepts and issues examined during the module.

Where there are specialist programme lectures or events, or other University seminars, relevant to these issues, students in the module will be encouraged to attend and be given the opportunity to discuss the issues with visiting academic presenters.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 20
Guided independent study 180
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 75
Oral assessment and presentation 25

Other information on summative assessment:
•Written assignment: 1 assessed essay of 12 pages (formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules)
•Oral assessment and presentation: Depending on class size, students will present either individually or in small groups. Where students give group presentations, each student will be assessed individually on his or her own contribution to the presentation (75% of the mark awarded) as well as on his or her overall contribution to the group (25% of the mark awarded). Written feedback will be given as formative and summative feedback.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
See School of Law PGT Programme Handbook

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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