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Sample Course Unit

This page gives a sample of a typical Calamus distance learning course unit.

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N.B. - Different course units may vary in length, style and credit value according to subject, level and tutor.  The typical core text for a 3-course unit will normally have 150 to 250 pages.  Students are responsible for purchasing textbooks. The total length of all assignments for a 3-course unit is normally approx. 5,000 words. Many units include an essay of 1,500 to 3,000 words as one of the assignments. This unit has been specially edited for inclusion in this prospectus and some additional information, e.g. on extra resources, may be omitted.

Course Unit: The Importance of Social Justice 

Course Unit Number: SOC 307

Value: 3 credits

Course Description

The set text for this course argues convincingly that over the past 20 years, there has been a tremendous increase in social injustice in both British and American society, whatever political party has been in power.  At the same time, shallow and ultimately meaningless ideas of “equal opportunity” and “personal responsibility” have done nothing to alleviate the core problems.  The course takes a searching look at the concepts of equal opportunity, meritocracy and personal responsibility and exposes the grim realities underneath these convenient notions.  There follows a courageous examination of what social justice means and demands, and speculation on the future of society.

Key Text:

Barry, Brian.  Why Social Justice Matters. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2005.

[The student will need to purchase or borrow the above text.]

Further reading and resources:

Notes and sources are provided in the key text.  This unit is self-contained and no further reading is necessary.  However the student may use external sources if desired as part of his/her research for the assignment questions.

Assignment 1

Read the Preface and Part I (Chapters 1, 2 and 3) of the key text.

Write approx. 350 to 500 words on the following:

What is social justice about and what are some of the political causes of global social injustice?

Assignment 2

Read Part II (Chapters 4,5,6 and 7) of the key text.

Write approx. 350 to 500 words on the following:

Is equal opportunity a myth?

Assignment 3

Read Part III (Chapters 8 and 9) of the key text.

Write approx. 350 to 500 words on the following:

Discuss the concept of meritocracy and explain why it is flawed.

Assignment 4

Read Part IV  (Chapters 10, 11 and 12) of the key text.

Write approx. 350 to 500 words on the following:

How has the notion of personal responsibility been misused by politicians?

Assignment 5

Read Part V  (Chapters 13, 14, 15 and 16) of the key text.

Write approx. 350 to 500 words on the following:

Can any society afford social justice?

Assignment 6

Read Part VI (Chapters 17,18,19 and 20) of the key text.

Write approx. 350 to 500 words on the following:

What pressures will Western society face in the coming decades that might lead to increased demand for social justice?

Assignment 7

Write an essay of at least 2,000 words on one of the following topics:

(a)           Since the set text has been published there have been three major events that are bound to influence British and American politics:  (a) the international credit crunch and recession (b) the election of Barack Obama as the President of the USA and (c) the new Conservative-led British government.  What is your understanding of how one, both or all of those issues will impact upon social injustice?

(b)           If you live in a country other than Britain or the USA, comment on the need for social justice in your own country.

 (d)          The set text discusses the political case for social justice. However, arguments for social justice can also come from other standpoints.  Can you present a religious or spiritual case for social justice?

(end of sample unit)


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