Comparative Human Rights Law

Subject LAWS90058 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

May, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start 06-Mar-2016
Teaching Period 04-May-2016 to 10-May-2016
Assessment Period End 27-Jul-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 31-Jan-2016
Census Date 04-May-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 10-Jun-2016

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the Melbourne Law Masters website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24-26 hours
Total Time Commitment:

136-150 hours

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.


Melbourne Law Masters Students: None

JD Students: Successful completion of either of the below subjects:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact Student Equity and Disability Support.



Justice Kate O'Regan (Coordinator)

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Human rights adjudication has expanded in many jurisdictions across the world in the past few decades. Yet there is still scepticism about the role of courts in human rights adjudication and the question whether Australia should adopt a justiciable Bill of Rights remains an open one. This subject will provide students with the opportunity to reflect critically on the role of courts in human rights adjudication by introducing them to the different approaches to the adjudication of human rights in a range of jurisdictions including South Africa, the United States of America, India, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Council of Europe. Several key human rights issues that have arisen in different jurisdictions will be analysed and compared.

Principal topics include:

  • What are human rights?
  • Different approaches to the adjudication of rights
  • Key issues in equality and non-discrimination law: same-sex marriage and affirmative action
  • Key issues in civil and political rights: prisoners’ voting rights, euthanasia, and the right to manifest religious belief
  • Key issues in economic and social rights: the rights to housing and healthcare.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the role of courts in human rights protection
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of the key similarities and differences between rights-protection instruments
  • Have a comprehensive understanding of some of the different approaches to human rights adjudication in a range of jurisdictions
  • Have a detailed understanding of the underlying assumption and institutional choices involved in adopting a particular model for the protection of rights
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating human rights, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy
  • Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of comparative human rights.
  • Take-home examination (5,000-6,000 words as specified in the subject reading guide) (100%) (17 - 20 June)
  • 10,000 word research paper (100%) (27 July) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement.

Prescribed Texts:

Specialist printed materials will be made available free of charge from the Melbourne Law School prior to the pre-teaching period.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Government Law
Graduate Diploma in Human Rights Law
Graduate Diploma in International Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Juris Doctor
Master of Human Rights Law
Master of Law and Development
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law

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