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Doing the Most Good: Effective Altruism and International Relations


Admission requirements

Only students of the Advanced MSc International Relations and Diplomacy programme can take this course.


Effective altruism (EA) is an emerging social movement and broad philosophical view that uses reasoning and evidence to try to do the most good possible with limited resources. This course will critically assess the philosophical underpinnings of EA, explore popular EA topics, and provide some practical skills about how to apply EA reasoning can be used in various subject areas. It will connect EA ideas to aspects of international relations such as global poverty, global warming, nuclear weapons, and other topics. The class will provide an overview of the EA and in the process help students develop critical thinking skills.

Course Objectives

  1. Understand and critically evaluate the central arguments in favour of and against EA.
  2. Understand some basic aspects of the main topic areas in which effective altruists work.
  3. Develop critical thinking skills linked to EA such as how to evaluate a moral argument, do cost effectiveness comparisons, conduct Fermi estimates, and do expected value calculations.
  4. Improve research skills related to EA.


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of Instruction

The course will be taught in a participatory, seminar style format. Each student is expected to have carefully read the assigned readings before each class and should be prepared to critically engage with them.

Study load: 140 hours

Attendance Policy
Attendance is mandatory, subject to course structure (see syllabus for details).

Assessment method

Paper: 50% of final grade
Quizzes: 25% of final grade
Reflection Journal: 25% of final grade

Failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course.

  • Passed partial grades obtained in the academic year 2022-2023 remain valid during the academic year 2023-2024.

  • Passed partial grades obtained in the academic year 2023-2024 remain valid during the academic year 2024-2025.

  • Should a student fail the overall course, s/he can complete the course in the next academic year. In cases of exceptional circumstances, a student may apply to the board of examiners for a resit to complete the course in the same academic year.

Reading list

A selection of books and articles, to be announced on Brightspace.


The programme will register the students in Usis based on the group division. Use Brightspace for course information.


Dr. Eamon Aloyo


  • This course is an elective designed for MIRD students.

  • This elective is conditional on at least 5 students registering for this course.

  • Second year students have priority for the registration to this course.

This course is intensive, with all sessions taking place in the month of February, meeting twice per week