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Human Rights and Politics


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor and tutor: Dr Ian Sanjay Patel
  • Assessment: a 2500-word essay (100%)

Module description

In this module we introduce you to the contemporary politics of human rights. You will learn what human rights are and their significance for struggles for justice and accountability. As well as exploring the contemporary politics of human rights at the international level, we will also examine political and legal theories of human rights and humanitarianism, and consider a range of themes as shown below. We will consider human rights as both an existing component of global liberalism and also a means of conceiving alternative futures based on new generations of rights.

Indicative syllabus

  • The contemporary politics of human rights
  • The modern history of human rights
  • The social contract and the rights of the individual
  • Political and legal theories of human rights and humanitarianism
  • Racialisation and inequalities
  • The sociology of human rights
  • Social movements and advocacy campaigns
  • Key human rights thinkers
  • Human rights in practice
  • Solidarity movements and international norms
  • Citizenship and belonging
  • Individual versus group rights

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key debates within contemporary human rights
  • understand and locate the significance of human rights for individuals, groups and societies
  • demonstrate knowledge of the different disciplines that address human rights themes from this module
  • think critically about human rights as a dimension of domestic and international politics
  • identify both conceptual and empirical issues in human rights
  • demonstrate critical and analytical thinking about key human rights questions today.