Introduction to International Human Rights: Theory, Law and Practice

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Law
  • Application code SS-LL102
  • Starting 2022
  • Short course: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

Our course will introduce you to these questions and several different ways of addressing them. We will discuss human rights as a moral and political idea, identify the place of human rights within general international law, and examine the various international systems for their protection.

In the course of that enquiry, we will pose hard questions about the importance of human rights relative to other good and values; the supposed ‘universality’ of human rights; the troubled relationship between international human rights law and national law; the effectiveness of the regional and global protection of human rights; and the relevance of human rights in a world of stark global inequalities, mass migration, and rapid climate change.


 Session: One 
Dates: 20 June - 8 July 2022
Lecturer: Professor Emmanuel Voyiakis and Dr Jo Murkens 


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 100 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One examination and one essay

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment



Programme structure

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: 

  • Self-determination
  • Poverty and climate change
  • Measuring the effectiveness of international human rights institutions
  • The application of human rights outside the territory of a state
  • Whether international human rights bind non-state actors (e.g. corporations and private organisations).

Course outcomes

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


LSE’s Law Department is one of the world’s best. In the UK, it was ranked first for research outputs in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) and in the top 5 law departments overall by The Complete University Guide in 2018. In the 2017 QS World University rankings, the Department was ranked seventh (out of 200 departments worldwide).

Many important subjects were first taught and examined systematically from an academic perspective in LSE’s Department of Law. We pioneered the study of banking law, taxation law, civil litigation, company law, labour law, family law, aspects of welfare law, and studies of the legal system and the legal profession, and continue to be the leading thinkers in our field.

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s law faculty.

Reading materials

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 Moeckli et al (eds) International Human Rights Law (3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 2017)

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

R Smith, Texts and Materials on International Human Rights, (4th edition, Routledge, 2019).

*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

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