GV4H5      Half Unit
Capitalism and Social Justice

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sarah Goff


This course is available on the MSc in Environmental Policy, Technology and Health (Environmental Economics and Climate Change) (LSE and Peking University) and MSc in Political Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course aims to analyze the concept of social justice, examine which economic system might best achieve it, and consider the implications for the organization of work. The positions to be assessed span the political spectrum, including the classical liberalism of F. A. Hayek, the modern liberalism of John Rawls, Robert Nozick’s libertarianism, and interpretations and defenses of Karl Marx. Topics likely to be addressed include contemporary debates about exploitation, domination in work and the labour market, working hours and their implications for rights to leisure, dignity and recognition in work, and the role of business ethics in unjust societies.


This course provides seminars totalling 20 hours in the LT. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus seminars. There will be a reading week in LT Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will submit a short formative essay (up to 1500 words) and will be given feedback on this before submitting their assessed coursework.

Indicative reading

F. A. Hayek (1976) The Mirage of Social Justice; Joseph Heath (2014) Morality, Competition, and the Firm; Robert Nozick (1974) Anarchy, State, and Utopia; G.A. Cohen (1995) Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality; John Rawls (1971) A Theory of Justice; Elizabeth Anderson (2017) Private Government; Robert S. Taylor (2017) Exit Left; Julie L. Rose (2016) Free Time; Ned Dobos, ‘Exploitation, Working Poverty, and the Expressive Power of Wages’ Journal of Applied Philosophy (2018); Mirjam Muller, ‘Emotional Labour: A Case of Gender-Specific Exploitation’ Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (2019); Jahel Queralt, ‘Protecting the Entrepreneurial Poor: a Human Rights Approach’ Politics, Philosophy & Economics (2019); Tom Parr, ‘Automation, Unemployment, and Taxation’ Social Theory & Practice (2021).



Essay (100%, 4000 words).

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2020/21: 25

Average class size 2020/21: 12

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication