Human Rights

Subject POLS90038 (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:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 05-Aug-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 contact hours: A 2-hour seminar per week for 12 weeks.
Total Time Commitment:

Total of 170 hours


Admission to the Master of International Relations

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Politics and International Studies at the Undergraduate Level

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 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 provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Mr Adam Berryman


Subject Overview:

This subject examines the theory and practice of international human rights. It explores the historical origin of the idea of human rights culminating in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and critically examines the development of human rights regimes and practice at the international and regional levels. Key issues examined include the philosophical and political debates about the foundations and practice of human rights, including whether human rights have outgrown their western origins; the relationship between international human rights law and international and domestic politics; human rights advocacy and the role of NGOs; international responses to human rights abuses; and the challenge of human rights enforcement, including the role of international courts and tribunals. These issues will be explored through a range of case studies, such as the rights of refugees, protection against people trafficking, protection against torture, gender discrimination and the rights of ethnic minorities.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • Develop a critical understanding of the historical evolution of international human rights;
  • Develop a critical understanding of the key issues, challenges, actors, and institutions associated with human rights advocacy and protection, standard setting and enforcement;
  • Develop a critical understanding of the key philosophical and political debates on human rights;
  • Develop a sound knowledge of the human rights practice across a range of different issue areas;
  • Develop a critical understanding of the possibilities and limits of international human rights.
  • A 2000 word case study analysis (40%) due during the semester
  • A 3000 word research essay (60%) due during the examination period.

Hurdle requirement: Students must attend a minimum of 80% of classes in order to pass this subject. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

All readings will be available on the subject’s LMS site.

Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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

On successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • Apply research skills and critical methods to a field of inquiry;
  • Develop persuasive arguments on a given topic;
  • Communicate oral and written arguments and ideas effectively;
  • Develop cross-cultural understanding.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Arts (Professional and Applied Ethics)
100 Point Master of International Relations
100 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
150 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
200 Point Master of International Relations
200 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
200 points Master of Arts (Professional and Applied Ethics)

Download PDF version.