LL4AW      Half Unit
Foundations of International Human Rights Law

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Susan Marks NAB 7.14


This course is available on the MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Human Rights, Master of Laws and Master of Laws (extended part-time study). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course will be relevant to the following LLM specialisms: Public International Law, Human Rights Law.

This course is capped at 60 students. 


None but is a pre-requisite for LL4AX when available.

Course content

The course provides an introduction to historical developments and institutional structures that have given shape to the international human rights legal regime. Part 1 of this course considers a range of foundational and enduring debates around the role of international human rights as a force for emancipatory change and popular empowerment. With a particular focus on the post-1945 institutional order, Part 2 maps the terrain that established the human rights regime at the international level and that continues to inform the contributions and limits of human rights protection and promotion. Topics vary from year to year and may include: Ethical Foundations • Universality and Diversity • Legal Sources and Normative Frameworks • Historical Antecedents • Global Regime • Human Rights Enforcement UN Reform • Regional Human Rights Regimes.


20 hours of lectures in the MT. 2 hours of lectures in the ST.

10 weekly two-hour lectures in the Michaelmas term, with a reading week in week 6, based on a format of lecture-discussions with the possibility of guest speakers where appropriate and depending on numbers, corresponding fortnightly one-hour classes.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word essay.

Indicative reading

Moeckli et al., International Human Rights Law (2014); Alston and Goodman, International Human Rights (2013); Kozma, Nowak, Scheinin, A World Court of Human Rights – Consolidated Draft Statute and Commentary (2010); Kennedy,The Dark Sides of Virtue (2004); C. Beitz, The Idea of Human Rights (2009).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2015/16: 26

Average class size 2015/16: 13

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills