Module Information

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

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment One essay of 5000 words.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On 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.


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.

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.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Through the study and analysis of any quantitative data.
Communication Through the presentation of information and argument in written answers to questions. Written communication assessed only.
Improving own Learning and Performance Through the independent study of the subject at a distance.
Information Technology Through the application of IT as an essential medium of learning, teaching and study.
Personal Development and Career planning Through a process of independent learning and use of the study and qualification for purposes of career development.
Problem solving Through the examination of actual and hypothetical responses to instances of human rights violations.
Research skills Through the detailed study at advanced level of literature, historical and legal material and ethical debates on the subject.
Subject Specific Skills None.
Team work Through group discussion at occasional residential meetings.


This module is at CQFW Level 7