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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2022 - 2023

Module Title
Module Code

Online Module Resources

NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

This module explores justice and peace, both generally and with regard to selected issues, from theological and philosophical perspectives, from biblical times up to the modern tradition of Catholic/Christian Social Doctrine. Drawing from the Leaving Certificate RE syllabus, it presents a vision of justice as: right relationship, retribution [giving what is owed], fairness, equality, and human rights. Both Old and New Testaments are examined, with particular attention to Genesis 1-3, the Decalogue and Mosaic Law and Covenant, the Hebrew Prophets, as well as the teaching and life of Jesus Christ and the early church. The centrality of the human person as made in God's image and as called to respect God's creation is emphasised. The thought of St Thomas Aquinas is explored, with particular attention to justice as a virtue in the context of respect for the natural law and the common good, and response to the divine invitation to believers to live a Christian life. Social teaching in the more recent tradition is looked at, beginning with study of Leo XIII's 'Rerum Novarum' and looking at developments up to the environmental theological ethics in 'Laudato Si' and the theme of human fraternity in 'Fratelli Tutti' of Pope Francis. The theme of just war theory/doctrine is looked at in some detail, both as an issue in itself and also as an example of how to do sound ethical analysis of difficult moral decisions in which it seems we have to choose to do evil in order to achieve good: the module demonstrates that this is a false understanding of ethics by analysing an adequate understanding of human intentionality and its relationship to the pursuit of true justice as a foundation for genuine peace. The module emphasises that personal and professional commitment to work for justice and peace is a matter of reason, which can be illuminated and motivated also by faith working together in harmony with reason. This commitment is an essential element in good educational policy and practice. Any teacher, and especially a teacher of RE, should be a person working for justice and peace.

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate a theological and philosophical knowledge and understanding of the concepts of justice and peace.
2. Identify and reflect upon the biblical and traditional sources of Christian thinking on, and action for, justice and peace.
3. Argue and justify ethical points of view regarding justice and peace issues, supported by relevant theological and philosophical sources.
4. Apply ethical principles and truths from the Christian tradition to specific contemporary justice and peace issues, such as war and human rights.
5. Integrate insights from the theological and philosophical tradition into a coherent, person-centred worldview.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture24No Description
Assignment Completion55No Description
Independent Study46No Description
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Philosophical and theological understandings of justice and peace.

Justice and peace in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

Justice and peace in St. Thomas Aquinas

Catholic/Christian Social Teaching - history, texts and principles [e.g. human rights, solidarity, etc.].

Just War Theory and Pacifism. Environmental Issues. Other selected issues.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment% Examination Weight%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

  • Himes, Kenneth,: 2001, Responses to 101 Questions on Catholic Social Teaching, Paulist Press,, New Jersey,
  • Murray, John: 2005, Issues of Justice and Peace, Veritas, Dublin,
  • McGrath, Alister (ed.): 1993, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought, Blackwell, Oxford,
  • Regan, Ethna: 2010, Theology and the Boundary Discourse of Human Rights, Georgetown University Press, Washington D.C.,
  • Dwyer, J. (ed.): 1994, The New Dictionary of Catholic Social Thought, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minn.,,
  • Groome, T.: 1998, Educating for Life: A Spiritual Vision for Every Teacher and Parent [chapter 8]., Thomas More, Allen, Texas,,
  • Pieper, J.: 1966, The Four Cardinal Virtues ([Four books in one; our interest is in Justice: original 1955]., University of Notre Dame Press, Indiana,
  • Bradley, G.B. and C. E. Brugger (eds.): 2017, Catholic Social Teaching: A Volume of Scholarly Essays, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK,
  • Dorr, Donal: 2016, Option for the poor and for the earth : from Leo XIII to Pope Francis, revised, Orbis, Maryknoll, New York,
  • Finnis, John: 1998, Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory, Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York,
  • Gill, Robin (ed.): 2012, The Cambridge Companion to Christian Ethics, 2nd, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK,
Other Resources

52041, Online directory, The Holy See/Vatican, 0, Papal documents full-text links, http://www.vatican.va/offices/papal_docs_list.html, 52042, Website, United Nations, 0, Human Rights page, http://www.un.org/en/rights/, 52043, Website, World Council of Churches, 0, Homepage, http://www.oikoumene.org/, 52044, Website, Aquinas, St.Thomas,, 0, Summa Theologiae, http://www.newadvent.org/summa, 52045, Website, Glendon, Mary Ann, 1998, ‘Reflections on the UDHR’ in First Things April 1998, http://bit.ly/19u4xlc, 52046, Website, 0, Leaving Certificate RE Syllabus, http://www.curriculumonline.ie/uploadedfiles/PDF/lc_religion_sy.pdf,
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