Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Philosophy of Human Rights Protection
Academic Year
Distance Learning

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Module Assessment  Written Assignment of 5,000 words  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Display a knowledge and understanding of the underlying rationale and methodology of human rights protection at the international level.
2. Display a knowledge and understanding of the relationship between human rights protection and other goals and objectives within the international legal order.
3. Critically evaluate and test the arguments relating to the need for such a system of legal protection.
4. Locate and evaluate the relevant literature and materials in this field and use them in critical discussion of the subject.
5. Present critical and well-informed argument relating to the establishment and development of an international system of human rights protection.

Brief description

The module will enable students to study the underlying rationale for regimes of legal protection of human rights at the international level. This is a subject of great contemporary significance and one which gives rise to an increasing amount of legal activity at the international level. Study of the module will supply an understanding of the rationale of this area of law and develop a critical appreciation of pervasive themes within the subject.
The module will consider the concept of human rights protection at the international level and its philosophical, ethical and historical foundations. In doing so, it will address in the first place the history of human rights protection, with reference to the typical subject of such protection, the definition and scope of basic human rights, and the ethical justifications which have been advanced for such protection. It will then examine some pervasive conflicts and tensions within the system: human rights protection balanced against the maintenance of international peace and security; human rights protection versus State sovereignty; individual versus collective rights; rights versus goals; and governmental and non-governmental approaches. Thirdly, the categorization of human rights, and the significance and utility of such attempts at classification, will be considered. Finally, the responsibility for the violation of human rights will be examined, and in particular the question whether such responsibility should attach to States, or to individuals or other actors.


1. The concept of international human rights protection and its philosophical foundations.
2. A historical overview of such legal protection.
3. The subject and extent of such legal protection.
4. The ethical basis for such protection.
5. Pervasive conflicts and tensions within the system: the relation with peace and security, State sovereignty, ideas of the individual and the collective, goal-oriented policy, and non-governmental approaches.
6. The categorization of human rights: models and usefulness.
7. The responsibility for human rights violations: States, individuals and other actors.


This module is at CQFW Level 7