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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: School of Law Short Name: LAWM012
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: LLOYD A Miss (Schl of Law)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability

2nd Semester


Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment


Weighting towards Module Mark (%)










Module Overview

This module looks at International Human Rights.





Module Aims

The module will take a progressive approach to the international human rights system, primarliy studying the United Nations and then moving towards the regional systems and how each systems co-exists and works together.  Each seminar address a particular theme of interest, which allows students to develop evaluative and analytical skills and to put each theoretical concept into context.


Learning Outcomes

The module’s learning outcomes are:


·             To enable students to form an advanced conceptual understanding of international law with respect to the promotion and protection of human rights at the international, regional and domestic levels that is informed by insight based on scholarship at the forefront of the discipline


·             To enable students to understand and apply various theories of human rights, such as natural law, positivism, universalism and cultural relativism


·             To set international human rights law in its geopolitical, philosophical and historical contexts


·             To enable students to conduct independent research and produce coherent, high quality reports and papers


·             To develop both theory and practice skills in the above areas


Module Content

Each seminar will be divided into a general introduction of the subject area by the tutor.  This will then be followed by directed questions and guided discussion.  The second part of the seminar will allow for students’ presentations and a broader discussion of the issues.  At the end of each seminar, students will be expected to have developed a general “Mastery” of the subject under consideration, from the reading list provided and from undertaking further research.  Students will be expected to be able to contribute to (the often complex) discussion of the issues and, where appropriate, present a formal paper to the group.



Teaching and learning on the Masters programme in Law is centred on independent research and debates in the context of seminars.  The seminar-based approach to study enables the students to develop the independent research, analytical and reflective skills required for successful completion of a postgraduate level course.



This module seeks to evaluate the historical origins of human rights, the sources of human rights law and the human rights institutions.



Throughout this module, students will be analysing and applying the principles of equality and non-discrimination and each seminar will seek to focus on one or more of the following areas:



·             The protection of minorities and groups


·             The rights of women and children


·             Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity


·             Rights of individuals


Syllabus Content:


·             What are rights?  Philosophical considerations of the nature and sources of rights, drawing upon writing so natural law philosophers and positivism, as well as cultural aspects such as African philosophy.  Consideration of the notion of duties


·             The legal protection of rights: historical background to the development of present day mechanisms: French Declaration, American Declaration and Second World War Nuremburg Tribunals and united Nations, the instruments available and the move to regional mechanisms


·             Mechanisms for the protection of rights: reporting, individual communication procedures, courts and international criminal courts.  The notion of individual and state responsibility


·             Focus on particular institutions: the United Nations, international covenants and conventions on specific themes


·             Regional mechanisms: concept of regionalism – does this from universality?  Mechanisms and Rights protected.  Consideration of the European system:  European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter, American system: American Declaration on the Rights of Man and the American convention on Human Rights, the African system: the African Charter in Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, moves to establish instruments in the former Soviet Union and Asia


·             Analysis of various rights: positive or negative considerations, hierarchy between rights



Examples of modules are:


·             Theory of Rights


·             The United Nations


·             The European System


·             The inter-American and African Systems


·             Implementation of International Human Rights Law in Domestic Law


·             Remedies and Redress for Victims in International Human Rights Law


Methods of Teaching/Learning

8 x 3-hour seminars.  The seminars will be interactive and students will be expected to come prepared for the seminar and engage actively in discussions


Selected Texts/Journals

Essential reading


Steiner & Alston International Human Rights Law in Context: Law, Politics and Morals (Clarendon, 2000)



Background reading


Robertson & Merrils Human Rights in the World (Manchester University Press, 1996)


Brownlie & Goodwin-Gill Basic Documents on Human Rights ( Oxford University Press, 2002)


Alston The United Nations and Human Rights: A Critical Appraisal (Clarendon, 1992)


Ghandi International Human Rights Documents ( Oxford , 2004)





Human Rights Quarterly


Human Rights Law Journal


American Journal of International Law


International and Comparative Law Quarterly


Quarterly of Human Rights


International Journal of Children’s Rights


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