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Distributive Justice


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Moral and Political Philosophy

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Law, Governance, and Politics


Some people are rich and some are poor. Is that an injustice? What, if anything, should be done about it?

Distributive justice is the branch of political philosophy concerned with how burdens and benefits should be distributed within and between societies. In part I of this course we will study influential contemporary accounts of distributive justice by such philosophers as John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Ronald Dworkin, and Martha Nussbaum. In part II we will extend that philosophical reflection to the (global) institutions that presently maintain radical inequality, examining such topics as property rights, national borders, structural discrimination, and universal basic income.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • Key philosophical theories and debates in distributive justice, and their relation to ongoing real-world debates.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the concepts and arguments studied;

  • Employ them successfully to understand and address contemporary real-world debates.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required and includes preparatory reading and small written assignments.

Assessment method


  • Midterm Essay 40%

  • Final Essay 60%


The final mark for the course is determined by (i) the weighted average of the essays combined with (ii) the class attendance requirement.


Students can resit the assessment if their overall grade for the entire course is 5 or less. This requires writing a new essay weighted at 100% of the grade. It is not possible to make up for the attendance requirement.

Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

Students will have an opportunity to discuss the grading of their essays with the instructor.

Reading list

Literature will be made available through Brightspace at the start of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.