IS30470 Technology and Human Rights

Academic Year 2022/2023

Our right to privacy, to protest, and to speak out about matters which are important to us are long standing human rights that predate the digital or ‘fourth’ revolution. However, new technologies including Artificial Intelligence, the Internet, and digital surveillance tools are presenting impacts, opportunities, and challenges for human rights around the globe. These impacts affect some populations more than others, particularly those who have been historically marginalised and the recipients of ongoing human rights violations. Meanwhile, state governments uptake risky new technologies without adequate regulation while also struggling to control powerful corporate interests responsible for research, development and deployment. This module will explore some of the opportunities and challenges presented by new technologies for human rights, how traditional human rights instruments are used in response, and the creative and adaptive efforts of human rights defenders in our technological age.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Students will develop a meaningful understanding of:

1. The history, approaches and values contributing to human rights frameworks and the treaty bodies developed to defend them.
2.The role of technologies in creating impacts, opportunities and challenges for human rights.
3. The mechanisms available to respond to human rights impacts by digital technologies, in particular the United Nations Human Rights Council and the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
4. The creative logics motivating human rights defenders’ responses to technological impacts.

Indicative Module Content:

Human rights, in particular privacy, expression and assembly
Human rights instruments and mechanisms
Interactions between new technologies and human rights

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
critical research and writing
student presentations
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: An oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council in relation to a concern about the impacts of technologies on human rights. Unspecified n/a Graded Yes


Assignment: A written submission to the UN Human Rights Committee in relation to the possible impacts of technologies on human rights. Unspecified n/a Graded Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21 Thurs 15:00 - 16:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 22, 23, 32, 33 Thurs 15:00 - 16:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31 Thurs 15:00 - 16:50