LW7142 - International Human Rights Law

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about the structure of modern international human rights law and practice, the origins of the international human rights law system, and its relationship to the development of international criminal law. In particular, you will gain an understanding of international human rights law as a response of the international community to serious humanitarian abuses such as genocide, torture, slavery, and enforced disappearance. Drawing on contemporary case studies, this module provides you with a unique opportunity to acquire in-depth knowledge on the most pressing issues facing international criminal justice. This will inform your understanding of modern international human rights practice and its capacity to prevent such abuses from taking place.

Outline of seminar topics:
1. The relationship between international human rights law and international criminal law: Nuremberg, Tokyo, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
2. The structure of the modern international human rights system (I): The treaty-based mechanisms
3. The structure of the modern international human rights system (II): The charter-based mechanisms
4. Human rights law as a response to genocide
5. Human rights law as a response to torture
6. Human rights law as a response to enforced disappearance
7. Human rights law as a response to modern slavery
8. Human rights during armed conflict
9. Human rights during belligerent occupation
10. Human rights and the International Criminal Court
11. Contemporary developments (I): Gender-based persecution as a crime against humanity
12. Contemporary developments (II): Mass atrocities in the age of social media

How will I learn on this module?

You will receive a mixture of lectures and seminars. Lectures introduce core principles and themes, and elucidate particular areas of difficulty or confusion. Seminars provide the opportunity to discuss the principles and themes in context, and to gain insights from the tutor and other students. Lectures and seminars are linked, so that each lecture functions as an initial presentation of key concepts which are then developed more fully in seminar reading and discussion. You will also learn through independent study and reading, guided by readings lists and material on the eLP.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

As is always the case, the primary method of support for your learning is the knowledge of the staff who teach on the module, all of whom have extensive academic and practical experience in the field of international human rights law and have published on the topic in the most important law journals in the world, and all of whom are available to help you with difficulties in understanding. In addition to this, a number of supplementary measures are also available. All lectures will be recorded and made available online to you to aid for repeated listening. The module will also make use of the eLearning site (Blackboard Ultra), where lecture materials, online reading lists, podcasts, and other learning support materials will be made available. The module site will also direct you to supplementary resources which you are encouraged to explore in addition to the material covered in lectures and workshops. There are also regular opportunities for you to receive feedback on your work in order to improve.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the module you should be able to:

• You will know the key principles and expert knowledge of the law relating to the modern system of international human rights including its relationship to other areas of international law (e.g. humanitarian and criminal)

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

• You will be able to analyse and apply your knowledge to complex legal and policy issues relating to international human rights law.

• You will be able to critically evaluate diverse source material, from different regional and geographical contexts and consider its application to practical real-world contexts and human rights dilemma.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

• You will develop your critical awareness and you ability to conduct rigorous legal research relevant to global human rights dilemmas and challenges.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment
There will be an opportunity to submit a practice essay of 2000 words half-way through the module.

Summative assessment
The module will be assessed by way of a 3000-word essay on a subject chosen from a range of options.

Assessment Criteria and Grade-Related Criteria will be made available to you to support you in completing assessments. Grade-Related Descriptors are descriptions of the level of skills, knowledge and/or attributes that you need to demonstrate in order achieve a certain grade or mark in an assessment, providing a mechanism by which the quality of an assessment can be measured and placed within the overall set of marks.





Module abstract

This module presents international human rights law as a response taken by the international community to serious humanitarian abuses such as genocide, torture, slavery, enforced disappearance, gender-based persecution as well as mass atrocities in the age of social media. It describes how this has developed into a distinct sphere of international legal practice, and gives you a thorough understanding of that sphere of practice and its capacity to prevent such abuses from taking place. It also describes the relationship between human rights law and international criminal law, and examines how human rights law can be deployed even in circumstances of armed conflict or occupation in order to achieve a more just relationship between the individual and state power.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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