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International Human Rights Law - LAW00086H

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Tomoya Obokata
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will introduce students to the main features of international human rights law. It allows them to gain further insight into the basic legal concepts, norms and principles. In particular, the module considers the different categories of rights that have emerged particularly after the World War II with the adoption of the “International Bill of Rights.” They are civil and political; economic, social and cultural; and individual and group rights. The module will examine the nature and the extent of human rights obligations imposed upon States and the circumstances in which rights can be limited. It will also look at some topical issues in human rights law which may include, but are not limited to, terrorism, refugee protection, and business & human rights.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

1) explore how the concepts of human rights as well as the legal regime have emerged at the international level;

2) assess the strengths and weaknesses of international human rights law;

3) evaluate the ways in which human rights can be enforced at national, regional and international levels; and

4) explore human rights issues which are important today

Module learning outcomes

1) Gain systematic understanding of the nature and scope of international human rights law;

2) Explain, discuss and critically evaluate the development of concepts of human rights and associated legal regimes at the international level

3) Apply established techniques of independent research on international human rights topics;

4) Identify and critically evaluate differing critical perspectives on international human rights;

5) Apply critical understanding to develop individual opinions and arguments

6) Persuasively and coherently communicate information, ideas, issues and arguments to specific audiences

Module content

Indicative Content

1) Development and Sources of International Human Rights Law

2) Civil and Political Rights

3) Economic and Social Rights

4) Peoples' Rights

5) UN Human Rights Mechanisms

6) Regional Human Rights Mechanisms

7) Topical Issue

8) Topical Issue

9) Topical Issue

10) Topical Issue


Task Length % of module mark
Coursework Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Coursework Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students are allowed to submit a detailed essay outline to tutors for feedback on the basic structure and arguments.

Students will receive detailed feedback after their essays are marked.

Indicative reading

Rhona Smith, International Human Rights Law, 10th Ed. (OUP 2020)

Moeckli, Shah, and Sivakuraman (eds.), International Human Rights Law, 4rd ed. (OUP 2021)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.