Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 3 Hours. Three one hour seminars
Lecture 16 Hours. Two one hour lectures per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   exam assessed in Semester 2  Unseen examination, no books allowed in the exam hall  100%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   exam assessed in Supplementary exam session  Unseen examination, no books allowed in the exam hall  100%

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module students should be able to:
Achieve an in depth knowledge of the major theoretical discussions of rights.
Analyse and critique the differences between and points of convergence of human rights theories.
Analyse and evaluate strengths and weaknesses in the existing theories and in particular analyse their limits and their ability to encompass the `difficult cases? thrown up in human rights practice.
Explain and analyse the national and international institutions and the ways in which they operate and interact.
Explain and analyse the remedies available from the various institutions.
Identify problems in the structure of human rights provisions and suggest possible solutions.

In addition to these intellectual skills, students will be able to demonstrate:
Enhanced capacity for independent and critical thought.
Good time-management skills in preparing for seminars and submitting work on time.
The ability to carry out independent research for which credit will be given in the assessments
Locating and using relevant hard-copy and electronic sources seminars will require preparation using material from websites.
Awareness of and ability to analyse theoretical materials.
Ability to work in groups.

Brief description

The origins of human rights can be traced back to very early jurisprudential and other philosophical theories. The basis may be in natural law or some other philosophical standpoint. It could merely be associated with being human whereby every person has the right to what is necessary for an autonomous and dignified life. This course will begin by studying rights theorists, what is meant by human rights and where they come from. It considers why human rights should constitute a legitimate constraint on the acts, desires and will of the powerful.

The module would concentrate on detailed discussion of these rights theories, their ideological position and the theoretical difficulties at the fringes of rights, discussing children, the unborn and groups. Having set these boundaries it then explores the national and international institutions set up for their protection and the types of remedy which rights might provide to various types of legal applicants.


The course aims to develop transferable skills such as research, analysis and critical evaluation which are valuable in many professional contexts. It will require a high level of independent research activity and time management. It will require an ability to use, evaluate and critically analyse theoretical texts and the mechanisms by which domestic and international law protect rights and achieve a balance between these and state power.


It will include:
Rights Theories
Parameters of Rights ? Children and Groups
Group Rights and Discrimination
Rights and Constitutional Safeguards
Institutions and Remedies
Both National and International

This module will be taught through lectures and seminars. Some of the lectures will involve discussion with the students of particularly complex aspects of the course. Having said this, the lectures basically provide the framework for a greater understanding of the subject and will encourage a critical response. The seminars will permit more detailed discussion and analysis of particular aspects of the course, some of which may not be covered in detail in the lectures. Preparation for both the seminars and written work will require independent research on the part of students.

Reading List

Recommended Text
C Douzinas (2000) The End of Human Rights Hart Publishing Primo search C S Nino (1994) The Ethics of Human Rights Clarendon Press Primo search C Tomuschat (2003) Human Rights, between Idealism and Realism Primo search D McGoldrick (1991) The Human Rights Committee Clarendon Press Primo search W Kymlicka (1995) The Rights of Minority Cultures Oxford University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6