Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof Brad Hooker

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

Summary module description:

This module introduces students to the content of fairness and its relation to the rest of morality.


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 the importance of fairness in comparison with other moral values. The module aims to develop students’ skills in dealing with abstract moral concepts and normative arguments, and to develop students’ writing skills and their ability to make oral presentations.

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, presentational 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 equal treatment, 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 10 hours of lectures and 5 hours of seminars during the term in which the module’s lecture and seminar classes take place. All students are required to write a single essay from a list of questions supplied by the module convenor. The essay assignment will be due in week 5 of the Summer term. In addition, students will be required to write a short précis of the topic for discussion in each seminar class. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer the questions posed by others. A reading list and sample questions will be given out at the start of the course.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 5
Guided independent study 85
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:

Students will write a short précis of the topic for discussion for every seminar class. Some classes may involve quizzes.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (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.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Written assignment, to be completed in August

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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