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Human Rights & Wrongs in a Globalized World - POL00040I

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Susan Forde
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module summary

This module explores the legal and political understandings of human rights attainment and advocacy, through theoretical and empirical research based in a variety of global contexts.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20 to Summer Term 2019-20

Module aims

  • To provide students with an understanding of the core debates and legal and political mechanisms that shape international human rights in theory and practice;
  • To enhance students ability to engage with contemporary global issues using human rights to frame and substantiate their arguments, and to challenge others.

The overarching question this module seeks to answer is: what is the role of human rights in making the world a safer, fairer and more equitable place? The module provides an introduction to the international, and relevant regional and domestic, human rights systems. The global human rights movement is introduced alongside the core legal architectures, and the module presents how human rights are defined in different ways under different regimes and in different contexts. The module spans contemporary debates around migration, refugee rights, women’s rights, sexual orientation and gender identity rights, humanitarian intervention, indigenous rights, environmental rights, child rights, security, development, and justice. These interconnected topics reveal some of the main tensions within and between human rights, and within and between national, regional and international political interests. Through this, the module also considers the role that human rights can play in some of the core global issues such as structural oppression, racial discrimination, gender equality, climate change, sustainable development, democratisation, and post-war justice. Three broad analytical themes run throughout the module: (1) the debate over power versus norms, and politics versus law; (2) the question of the international versus the regional versus the national; and, (3) the issue of law versus practice, and the relationships between implementation and enforcement in a variety of political settings. Throughout the module, case studies from the Global North and South are interrogated and discussed, including but not limited to research drawn from: South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UK, India, Mozambique, Egypt, Rwanda, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, China, the EU, and the US.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Employ and/or critique a human rights perspective in their analysis of the major issues facing the contemporary globalised world;
  • Evaluate human rights violations and remedies from a range of political, legal and social perspectives; and
  • Engage with the international, regional and domestic politics of human rights violations, protection and implementation.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 2000 words
N/A 40
Online Exam
Human Rights & Wrongs in a Globalized World
N/A 60

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 2000 words
N/A 40
Online Exam
Human Rights & Wrongs in a Globalized World
N/A 60

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment.  They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend.  They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Audre, Lorde (1983) There is no hierarchy of oppressions. Bulletin: Homophobia and Education, 14(3/4): 9

Clapham, Andrew, (2007), Human Rights: A very short introduction. Oxford: OUP.

Goodhart, Michael (ed.) (2016), Human Rights: Politics and Practice. Oxford: OUP.

Keck, Margaret and Kathryn Sikkink (1998), Activists beyond border: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Cornell University Press.

Smith, Rhona K. M. (2016). Textbook on International Human Rights. Oxford: OUP/p>

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.