International Human Rights Law

Module summary

Module code: LAW1254
Level: 6
Credits: 30
School: Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department: Law and Criminology
Module Coordinator(s): Olga Martin-Ortega



This course aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the world they live in, their rights and rights to others and how these are protected by the international legal system. Its objective is to provide them with sound knowledge of the international human rights framework and contemporary issues affecting the enjoyment of such rights. More broadly, the course aims to prepare students to challenge human rights abuses and contribute to the improvement of human rights conditions around them.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the international legal framework and institutional architecture for the protection and promotion of human rights.
2. Critically assess when human rights are being violated and what are the responsibilities of state and non-state actors at national and international level.
3. Articulate arguments regarding the respect, protection and promotion of human rights, providing an analysis of the operation of the law in given situations.
4. Carry out an independent research project on international human rights law making use of all relevant sources of law and electronic legal databases.
5. Write an in-depth piece of research on an area of international human rights law .

Indicative content

• Origins of International Human Rights Law: History and key theoretical perspectives
• Key instruments in International Human Rights Law: treaties and custom
• The international legal architecture for the protection and promotion of human rights
• Implementing human rights: key mechanisms
• Contemporary issues in international human rights: war and human rights, transitional justice, business and human rights, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, human rights and the environment

Teaching and learning activity

The course will be taught through a combination of workshops, drop-in sessions and self-directed learning under supervision. The workshops will explore the main theoretical frameworks and practical issues and will be designed to allow students to develop their understanding of the theoretical and practical understanding of the operation of human rights law as well as provide them with a variety of skills including problem-solving, teamwork, group work, independent research, reading and critiquing case law and academic journal articles and essay writing skills. The drop-in sessions will complement the skill development approach of the course and allow students to enjoy external speakers, discussion of films and podcast and role play.


Presentation - 30% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes 1,2, 3 & 4.
Outline Details - The presentation is designed to give students an opportunity to publicly communicate their work based on their research and get feedback from fellow students; present and defend their ideas and be able to react to questions and challenges from others.

Essay - 70% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.
Word Length - 5,000 words.
Outline Details - The coursework is designed to give students the opportunity to carry out research for an essay on a topic of their choice. Students have to demonstrate the ability to:
-formulate and develop a research question;
-carry out a literature review on the topic of their choice ;
-write a clear, logical and reasoned long essay with a clear argument;
-make use of relevant scholarship and literature and
-use accurate referencing.

Students are not required to pass all elements of summative assessment in order to pass the module.

Formative Assessment - Informal presentations in class.