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Unit information: Human Rights in Law, Politics and Society in 2021/22

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 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Mr. Burton
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit covers the following topics: the origins and history of the human rights ideal and its contested status in western debates about law, politics and society; the internationalization and globalization of human rights; arguments about the universality and limits of human rights particularly with respect toa range of value systems, and multicultural societies; attempts to sanction human rights violations through legal and especially judicial processes, particularly by the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court; and some sharp contemporary debates, including but not limited to the profile of human rights in processes of democratization, in relation to poverty and economic development, and in response to terrorism.

Intended learning outcomes

The unit is designed to cultivate and encourage reflective and creative engagement with the issues rather than simply knowledge acquisition and transfer. By the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

  • Explain the nature of human rights
  • And their contested status in debates, in, and between, western and non-western ideologies, and about globalization, international law and international relations.
  • Identify and discuss some core human rights - related debates, eg transitional justice, counter-terrorism, multiculturalism.

Students should be able to state the various arguments and positions in key debates accurately, 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

Teaching will be delivered through a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities

Assessment Details

2 x summative assessments: 1x coursework and 1 x Timed Open Book Assessment with a specified word count

The assessment will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. LAWDM0089).