Human Rights and Global Justice

Subject UNIB20009 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Jul-2015 to 25-Oct-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Nov-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 07-Aug-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 25-Sep-2015

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.

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Given the form of assessment in this subject, it is strongly recommended that students have completed a full year of undergraduate study (100 points) before enrolling in this subject.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Sophie Rigney


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.

Learning Outcomes:

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.

  • An in-class test, held mid-semester (10%)
  • An 1,800 word research assignment, due mid-semester (40%);
  • A 2,200 word take-home examination, held at the end of semester (50%).

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available from the University Co-Op Bookshop. Electronic copies of readings will be available on the LMS subject page.

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 University Press, 1999);
  • Michael Freeman, Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Polity Press, 2011);
  • Tim Dunne and Nicholas Wheeler (ed), Human Rights in Global Politics (Cambridge 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.

Related Course(s): U21 Diploma in Global Issues

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