POL41020 Politics of Human Rights

Academic Year 2023/2024

By examining recent political science scholarship on human rights, this module will facilitate understanding of how human rights norms spread and what effects they have on state behavior. After a brief theoretical and historical overview of international human rights, the course will turn to perspectives that seek to explain how and under what conditions human rights norms would be expected to influence state conduct. Topics covered include the role of transnational activist networks, legalization and legal norms, transitional justice, trade and economic sanctions, and the role of domestic institutions. The module does not cover the normative basis of human rights in any detail. The module will examine both quantitative and case-study empirical work to understand how and when various theories hold and what scholarship has yet to uncover. The module will be taught as a series of seminars in which students will be expected to complete all required reading and come to class prepared to discuss it in a critical and collegial fashion.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

-Understand multiple theoretical perspectives on the politics of human rights

-Analyze cross-national empirical patterns

-Interrogate the perspectives and empirical patterns in your written work

-Construct and evaluate arguments

-Compare, contrast, analyze, and evaluate the politics of human rights across contexts

-Prepare a short but academically rigorous piece of research on a topic related to human rights

-Think creatively about human rights and (hopefully) politics more generally

Indicative Module Content:

See module descriptor.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Seminar-style discussions, reading, written analysis, original research. 
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 In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Written critical response 2 Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Assignment: Final research paper due at end of semester. Unspecified n/a Graded No


Assignment: Written critical response 1 Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Seminar: Seminar participation. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No



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

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be provided to students within 20 working days of the deadline for the assignment in according with university policy.