Not available in 2020/21
LL4AW      Half Unit
Foundations of International Human Rights Law

This information is for the 2020/21 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.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2019/20: 23

Average class size 2019/20: 23

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills