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LL102: Introduction to International Human Rights: Theory, Law and Practice



Course Content

This course involves critical exploration of what is meant by human rights. It will investigate the possibility that the international human rights movement, together with the law that underpins it, can provide a universal ethical and legal order. There are three main areas of focus;

Theories and Histories of Human Rights

The course begins with an introductory account of the general idea of human rights and of the history of the idea from ancient Greek origins and the Enlightenment to contemporary understandings. Students will be exposed to several enduring human rights critiques and, through a series of case-studies, examine the tensions that the practice of human rights today highlights, such as in the areas of free speech, prohibiting torture, and countering terrorism.

Structures and Standards

The course then turns to assessing the structure and standards that govern international human rights law, beginning with an introduction as to what modern international law is and how it is made. This part of the course will consider the international and regional human rights systems and the range of legal instruments and standards that have been developed. 

Key issues in Human Rights

Finally, this intensive course will study selected key issues in international human rights law such as: 

  • The right to freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (including the use of torture in so-called “ticking bomb” scenarios)
  • Freedom of expression (including the protection awarded to expression that is offensive to religious feelings, holocaust denial, and hate speech)
  • Life and death (including the issue of abortion and assisted suicide)
  • Global warming and environmental protection. 

Course outcomes

The intended learning outcome is an informed and critical understanding of contemporary international human rights theory, law and practice.

World-class LSE teaching

LSE Law has excelled once again in the UK’s nationwide assessement of research quality, impact and environment. The Research Excellence Framework results published in December 2014 show that LSE Law is the UK’s number one law school for legal research.

The 2014 QS World University faculty rankings for Law also place the LSE in the world’s top ten for the subject, making it London’s best Law School.

On this three week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s law faculty.  LL102 lecturers, Dr Jo Murkens and  Dr Emmanuel Voyiakis teach on a number of our undergraduate and graduate law modules, including Public Law, Comparative Constitutional Law and Advanced Torts.



There are several good human rights textbooks on the market, and you are strongly encouraged to purchase one.

Some titles for your consideration are:

D Harris, D Moeckli et al (eds) International Human Rights Law (2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 2013)

P. Alston, R. Goodman & H Steiner, International Human Rights: Texts and Materials (Oxford University Press 2013)

R Smith, Texts and Materials on International Human Rights, (3rd edition, Routledge, 2013).

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice



Dates: To be confirmed

Lecturer:Dr Jo Murkens
Dr Emmanuel Voyiakis

Level: 100 level

Fees: Click here for information

Prerequisites: None

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: Written work and one written examination

Typical credit**: 3 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

How to apply?

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*assessment is optional – see FAQs

**You will need to check with your home institution. Read more about credit transfer here.