GI426      Half Unit
Gender and Human Rights

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Sumi Madhok


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Gender (Rights and Human Rights). This course is available on the MSc in Gender, MSc in Gender (Research), MSc in Gender (Sexuality), MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation, MSc in Gender, Peace and Security, MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities, MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics and MSc in International Relations (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course is likely to have restricted space availability.


A background in the Humanities and/or the Social Sciences with a basic familiarity with human rights and/or gender studies.

Course content

This course will provide the students with a transnational and intersectional gender perspective on contemporary theories and practices of rights/human rights and humanitarianism. It brings together different sets of scholarship: gender theories, decolonial, queer and postcolonial scholarship, theoretical perspectives on human rights alongside with legal and policy perspectives - and will be of interest to students wanting to study the question of human rights in an interdisciplinary manner but also one that is crucially sutured to the question of gender. Consequently, the course will introduce students to key scholars: CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Gayatri Spivak, Michel Rolph Trouillot, Ratna Kapur, Hannah Arendt, Audra Simpson, Walter Mignolo, Girogio Agamben, Jacques Rancierre, Judith Butler, Lila Abu Lughod, Wendy Brown among others while drawing attention to the evolution and working of international legal frameworks for securing women's rights and other marginal groups. The course will pay special attention to the struggles over 'humanity', 'civilisation' and 'indigeneity', as well as to tensions between citizenship rights and human rights, and the transformation of the former in the light of the latter. It will also focus on feminist demands and struggles over sexuality, sexual rights, bodily rights, culture, development and citizenship; over entitlements to material resources; to gendered protections in conflict; and on vulnerability and precarity under neoliberal economic and political regimes. The course is focused on encouraging critical thinking on human rights together with introducing students to alternative, decolonial and anti colonial perspectives on rights and human rights.


This course runs in Winter Term. 

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Formative essay assignment.

Indicative reading

  • Trouillot, M.R., 1995. Silencing the past: Power and the production of history. Beacon Press.
  • James, C.L.R., 2001. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. Penguin UK.
  • Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis
  • McKittrick K. (2015) ed. 'Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis', Duke University Press.
  • Lughod, L. (2013) 'Do Muslim Women Need Saving', Harvard University Press.
  • Kapur, R., 2018. Gender, Alterity and Human Rights: Freedom in a Fishbowl. Edward Elgar Publishing., Giorgio. Homo sacer: Sovereign power and bare life. Stanford University Press, 1998.
  • Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1973.
  • Balibar, Étienne. Equaliberty: Political Essays. Duke University Press, 2014.
  • Fassin, D. ( 2012) 'Humanitarian Reason', Harvard University Press.
  • Moyn, Samuel ( 2010) 'The Last Utopia', Columbia University Press.
  • Correa, Sonia, Rosalind Petchesky and Richard Parker ( 2008) (eds.) Sexuality, Health and Human Rights, Routledge, New York.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 34.9
Merit 49.4
Pass 14
Fail 1.7

Key facts

Department: Gender Studies

Total students 2022/23: 81

Average class size 2022/23: 14

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication