Human Rights and Global Justice

Subject UNIB20009 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

On campus.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment:

100 hours.





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills, and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to providing support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Ms Madelaine Chiam


Melbourne Law School Student Centre
Tel: +61 3 8344 4475

Subject Overview:

This subject introduces students to the history, theory, goals and practice of international human rights. It will explore the way in which various disciplines intersect and contribute to an understanding of the extent to which human rights can contribute to global justice. Teachers and practitioners provide competing (and complementary) perspectives on key human rights themes including: the origins of human rights; universal rights versus cultural difference; the relationship between civil/political rights and economic/social rights; causes of human rights abuses; the role of states, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organisations in protecting and promoting human rights, and methods of implementation. Specific human rights case studies that are used to investigate these broad themes will be drawn from issues such as: state-sanctioned torture; foreign aid and development; humanitarian intervention; refugees; human trafficking; human rights and climate change; the relationship between bioethics and human rights; the rights of groups and communities; poverty; and the role of scientific methods and tools in implementation.


This University Breadth Subject has the objective of exposing undergraduate students from an array of faculties to conceptual debates around human rights that are foundational to liberalism and liberal internationalism. It also seeks to expose students to human rights 'practitioners': lawyers, advocates, community leaders, international and domestic government officials, and politicians. A broader aim is to give students not only a sense of how individual disciplines (such as law, science, politics and history) separately approach a particular issue, but also how they can work together.

  • One 2,000 word assignment, due mid-semester (50%);
  • A take-home examination (50%).

Prescribed Texts:

Printed materials will be available from the Melbourne Law School. Electronic copies of readings will be available on the subject's LMS website.

Recommended Texts:
  • Rhonda L Callaway and Julie Harrelson-Stephens eds, Exploring International Human Rights: Essential Readings (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007);
  • Jack Donnelly, International Human Rights (Westview Press, 3rd ed 2007);
  • Henry J Steiner, Philip Alston and Ryan Goodman, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals (3rd ed, Oxford University Press, 2008);
  • Stephen Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students successfully completing this subject will develop high-level skills in the following areas:

  • Critical research and analysis, based on an understanding of the relationship between the disciplines of politics, law and history;
  • Research essay writing;
  • Oral communication and argument;
  • Ability to engage with, and begin to resolve, the practical dilemmas facing advocates, lawyers, governors and administrators in the field of human rights.

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