Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Human Rights - Theories, Institutions & Remedies
Academic Year
Semester 1
Legal Systems and Skills (LA14230/GF14230/LA14720/GF14720/LA34230/GF34230/LA34720/GF34720)
OR Legal Process (GF10110/LA10110/LA30110) AND Legal System (GF11010/LA11010/LA31010)

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 16 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 3 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   Exam  Candidates are not permitted to bring any books, notes or any other materials into the examination.  100%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Exam  Candidates are not permitted to bring any books, notes or any other materials into the examination.  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 indigenous minorities 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 and Definitions
Parameters of Rights Minorities 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 lists
Please note that, due to the nature and structure of this course, it is difficult to provide a single textbook that covers the two parts of the module. The suggestion is that a general textbook can be recommended (Rhona Smith, see full reference on Reading List below), but it is not mandatory. Several sources will be indicated and students should be able to search, find and use them.

The Reading List is a very basic list of materials that can help you to prepare for the module. More detailed or specific references might be provided for specific lectures and for seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 6