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Human Rights (level 5)


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Dr Frederick Cowell
  • Assessment: two 1500-word assignments (30% each) and an examination (40%)

Module description

A great paradox lies at the heart of human rights. They have become a dominant discourse after the end of the Cold War; but at the same time more human rights violations are committed today than ever before. In this module we examine the contemporary significance of human rights in the United Kingdom and internationally.

In the first term you will learn about the complex contemporary systems of human rights instruments (UN and regional treaties, conventions and covenants) and mechanisms (UN treaty bodies, regional human rights courts). We will focus on specific rights issues, such as women's rights and social and economic rights, as well as examining the issues of cultural relativism and state compliance with human rights.

In the second term a leading human rights barrister will lead a seminar examining the significance and impact of human rights law in the UK, drawing from his experience in extradition and other cases. You will engage with the ongoing debates concerning a possible Bill of Rights for Britain, repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998, and the uneasy relationship between the UK and the Council of Europe, European Convention on Human Rights and European Court of Human Rights.

This module will be of interest to anyone intending to practise law, or with an interest in the protection of human rights or in working for an NGO. This module complements more specialised modules in the area and can be done in the second, third or fourth year of a degree.