Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Placement opportunity: Micro placement
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Brad Hooker

Email: b.w.hooker@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module addresses the concept of fairness and its relation to other moral concepts and considerations.


This module will familiarize students with the leading contemporary theories of fairness. The relation of fairness to impartiality, equality, rights, proportionality, need, desert, and free-riding will be explored. The module will address conflicts between fairness and other values. The module aims to develop students’ skills in dealing with abstract moral concepts and normative arguments and to develop students’ writing skills.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Students will develop their abilities to deal with abstract moral concepts that are very frequently invoked but highly contentious. Students will come to understand how the multifaceted nature of these concepts accounts for their importance and for the contention surrounding them. Students will become practiced in confronting complex and highly charged moral and social questions and dealing with them in an analytical and plausible fashion. Reasoning skills and writing skills will be enhanced.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:

Topics covered on the module will typically include: the nature of impartiality and its relation to fairness, how fairness connects to the free-rider problem, the idea that fairness is merely a matter of the equal treatment of equals, the idea that fairness requires treating people in accordance with their rights, the idea that fairness requires proportionality, the ideas that fairness requires treating people in accordance with their needs or their deservingness.

Global context:

Questions about global fairness as well as questions about local fairness will be discussed.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught by lectures and seminars. Students are expected to attend 30 hours of class during the term plus attend the convenor’s Office Hours as needed. All students are required to write two essays from a list of questions supplied by the module convenor. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer the questions posed by others.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One essay assignment due in week 5, one due in week 11.

Formative assessment methods:

Each student will be required to turn in a page (less than 300 words) on the reading every week, on which a fellow student will be required to write comments during class time. I will take up these pages and write my own comments on the pages and on the students’ comments. This exercise should prepare students for the topics being discussed and help develop writing and editing skills.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Written assignment, to be completed in August/September.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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