LAW-40048 - Foundations of Human Rights
Lecture Time:
Level: Level 7
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733218

Programme/Approved Electives for 2024/25


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2024/25

This broad foundation module sets the scene for a distinctive, interdisciplinary MA in human rights, providing a background in which to situate our study and critique of human rights theory and practice. The module begins by exploring historical, philosophical and structural aspects of human rights, including Enlightenment perspectives, theories of rights/history of rights theory, universalism/relativism debates, sovereignty and non-intervention concerns and other `structural┐ issues pertinent to international law and relations. Examining the UN parameters, regional and domestic frameworks and principal international mechanisms ensures a good understanding of the institutional and legal frameworks in which human rights discourses are located. The module then provides an important critical elaboration and analysis of the normative frameworks in which human rights operates, with particular attention drawn to examining the effect of lacunae/silences in human rights discourse on communities and practices, and on debates about the nature and applicability of human rights. The module further sets the scene for the course through examination of contemporary issues/political sociology of human rights, covering a range of questions to be explored in later modules. These topics will depend on interest and available specialisation, and might typically include feminist perspectives on international law/human rights; constructing rights and identities; challenges to western human rights concepts and frameworks including African and Islamic perspectives on human rights; introduction to global civil society and globalisation issues; movement of people concerns (including refugees and trafficking in persons); and challenges of justice in post-conflict situations.

The primary aim of the programme is to provide students with an intensive period of study in which they develop practical and theoretical understandings of human rights law, politics and philosophy, at domestic, regional and international levels. The course also aims to provide key critical perspectives on human rights theory and practice, focusing in particular on gender, sexuality, race, class, ethnicity, religion and power in relation to human rights realisation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of a range of human rights issues, and particularly of a range of legal and non-legal theories, principles and methodologies. will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2
Develop an ability critically to analyse legal principles and institutions from the diverse interdisciplinary perspectives of Law, Politics, International Relations and Philosophy. will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2
Develop a critical awareness of the social contexts in which human rights philosophy and practices operate. will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2
Enhance subject-specific and non-subject- specific research skills, particularly those demanded by extended self-study in the dissertation. will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2
Develop an informed and reasoned understanding of debates relating to human rights law, politics and practices. will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2
Enhance the capacity to evaluate evidence and respond constructively to criticism and alternative arguments. will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2

Study hours

12 x 2h seminars = 24h
Seminar preparation = 40h
Essay and presentation preparation = 40h
Private study = 46h
Total: 150h

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment