LL4AW      Half Unit
Foundations of International Human Rights Law

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Susan Marks NAB 7.14


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Human Rights and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is part of the following LLM specialisms: Public International Law, Human Rights Law.

This course is capped at 30 students. 



Course content

The course provides an introduction to key developments, issues and ideas that have given shape to the regime of international human rights law. We consider enduring debates around the foundations and universality of human rights, and look at a range of controversies relating to the interpretation and application of human rights treaties. Through the study of relevant concepts, norms, processes and debates, students are encouraged to develop an informed and critical assessment of the significance of international human rights law as a force for emancipatory change.


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

There will be a reading week in week 6.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word essay.

Indicative reading

Reading lists will be provided for each seminar on Moodle. Relevant readings may include: Charles Beitz, The Idea of Human Rights (2009); Conor Gearty and Costas Douzinas (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Human Rights Law (2012); and Philip Alston and Frédéric Mégret, The United Nations and Human Rights: A Critical Appraisal (2017).


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

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: 23

Average class size 2018/19: 22

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills