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School of Law

SOLM173 Ethics of Migration and Asylum (A21)

Module Description

This module introduces the main philosophical and ethical debates concerning border control, citizenship, migration and refugee/asylum-seeker status. It sets out the arguments for and against “open borders”, the political theory of citizenship and the nation state, and the relationships between citizens’ rights and universal human rights. As well as matters of general philosophical principle, we will look at the ethics of border control practices, from identity cards and entry controls to surveillance and access to public services, detention and repatriation. As appropriate we will consider these issues in international context, considering debates about the “border wall” between the United States of America and Mexico, Australian policy involving placements of migrants in third party countries including Nauru and Papua New Guinea, the rights of EU-member state citizens in the UK following “Brexit”, and other issues as they arise.


Week 1:
1. Introduction
2. The normative justification for border controls

Week 2:
3. Permanent migration, residency and citizenship
4. Temporary migration (1): Asylum and refuge

Week 3:
5. Temporary migration (2): Economic migration and work
6. A duty to receive?: Migrants from former colonies

Week 4:
7. Deterring migration (1): criminal and administrative law
8. Deterring migration (2): cultural mechanisms, racism and "Othering"

Week 5:
9. Migration, trafficking and modern slavery
10. Open borders?

Applicable Groupings

Mode of Assessment

3,000-4,000 word essay


15 Credits