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Unit information: Human Rights in Law, Politics and Society in 2014/15

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Unit name Human Rights in Law, Politics and Society
Unit code LAWDM0089
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Greer
Open unit status Open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Liberalism and the Natural Rights Tradition; Western Critics of the Human Rights Ideal; Human Rights in International Law and International Relations; Europe; Islam and Chinese Values; Globalization and Development; Multiculturalism and Minority Rights; Humanitarian Intervention; Human Rights and the War on Terror; Transitional Justice.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, a successful student will be able to explain:

a) the nature of human rights; b) its contested status in debates about non-western political moralities, globalization, international law and international relations; c) identify and discuss some core debates where human rights are particularly central, eg transitional justice, terrorism, multiculturalism.

Students should be able to state the various arguments and positions in key debates ccurately, to assess them critically and to come to reasoned provisional conclusions about how challenging issues might best be understood and problems resolved.

This unit is also intended to improve the following benchmark skills – critical analysis of written texts and written argumentation.

Teaching details

10 fortnightly 2 hour seminars

Assessment Details

One three-hour closed book examination in May/June, in which students answer 3 questions from a choice of 7 or 8 questions (67%), plus 3,000 word essay (33%)

Reading and References

  • J. Donnelly, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice (Cornell University Press, 3rd edn., 2013).
  • J. Donnelly, International Human Rights: Dilemmas in World Politics, 4th edn. (Westview Press, 2012). I. Bantekas & L. Oette, International Human Rights Law and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  • M. Goodhart, Human Rights: Politics and Practice (2nd edn., Oxford University Press, 2013).
  • M. Freeman, Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Polity, 2nd edn., 2011).
  • J. Rehman, International Human Rights Law (Pearson, 2nd edn., 2010).
  • O. De Schutter, International Human Rights Law: Cases, Materials, Commentary (Cambridge University Press, 2010).