Human Rights I

Course - first cycle - 1-30 credits

Syllabus for students autumn 2013

Course Code:
MR101L revision 2.1
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Human Rights
Date of establishment:
08 March 2012
Date of ratification:
30 June 2013
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
02 September 2013
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
27 February 2013

Course description

The aim of the course is that the students will acquire basic knowledge and skills in the subject area of human rights from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Advancement in relation to the degree requirements

The course can normally be included as a part of a general degree at undergradate level.

Entry requirements

General entry requirements + English B.

Learning outcomes

The course consists of four modules:

1. Law and human rights

After completing the module, the student should be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the content and function of basic UN-treaties in human rights and account for the relationship between international and national law,
- identify relevant legal texts in the human rights area and tie it in a logical and coherent manner to individual cases, and
- identify, give examples of and assess potential conflicts and dilemmas in international treaties on human rights.

2. Politics and human rights

After completing the module, the student should be able to:
- analyse the role of the state in the realization of human rights and the relation between human rights and democracy, states’ capacity and the development of state sovereignty, as well as human rights as principles within the international community. and
- analyse political dimensions of human rights, such as reasons for failures in fulfilment and for violations of rights, and institutions that are important for rights fulfilment.

3. Philosophy and human rights

After completing the module, the student should be able to:
- describe the historical background of the human rights perspective and its relation to the value systems of the world religions, and
- give a logical and coherent account of fundamental philosophical concepts within the rights perspective.
- analyse and critically reflect on philosophical and religious aspects concerning the background to and development of the present-day human rights regime.

4. Project work

After completing the course, the student should be able to:
- critically reflect, in dialogue with others, on human rights in a legal, political, and philosophical perspective and on their role in contemporary society;
- use relevant theories and source material in an analysis of the human rights situation in a particular country;
- present this analysis and other findings in a logical and coherent manner, orally and in writing, and
- evaluate questions within the field of human rights from a multidisciplinary perspective.


Students’ performance in Modules 1-3 is appraised by means of formal written examinations (module 1 and 3) and home assignments (module 2). The fourth module is a country analysis, assessed by an oral presentation and a written assignment. The examinations test knowledge and understanding of the Human Rights issues covered in the modules as well as the student’s ability, within agreed timetables and in line with other examination requirements, to critically analyse, evaluate and resolve Human Rights questions. In addition, the student’s ability to analyse and reflect upon the support for human rights in contemporary society is evaluated.

Students who do not pass the regular course exams have the minimum of two retakes. Retakes follow the same form as the original exams, apart from retakes of group work, which take the form of individual written and oral assignments.

Course content

The course contains the following modules:

- Law and human rights (7,5 credits)
The first module comprises studies both of the basic regulation of international laws on human rights and of control measures to safeguard human rights.

- Politics and human rights (7,5 credits)

The second module comprises studies of human rights in relation to the concept of state, and with regard to political power and democratic processes.

- Philosophy, Religion and human rights (7,5 credits)

The third module comprises studies of philosophical and ethical theories and discussions regarding human rights.

- Project Work (7,5 credits)

The fourth module consists of writing a land analysis from a multidisciplinary perspective on human rights.

Learning activities

Teaching in Modules 1-3 is principally in the form of lectures and seminars. During the fourth module, separate project meetings are held, wherein students receive individual supervision of their project work. A major part of the work consists of independent studies. Students are responsible for reading along with instruction and are prepared for each session during the course. Students are presumed to pursue their own reading and discussion groups.

In the fourth module is held mandatory project meetings where students receive tutoring, in addition to the working groups meet regularly on the students' own initiative. The group is responsible collectively to all group members participate and contribute to the project.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Module 1: Law and Human rights

• Clapham, Andrew (2007) Human Rights. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford UP)
• Dixon, Martin (2007), Textbook on International Law (Oxford: Oxford UP)
• Documents in Public International Law, follow teacher's instructions
• Fasulo, Linda (2004) An Insider’s Guide to the UN (Yale: Yale University Press)
• Smith, Rhona (latest ed), Textbook on International Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford UP)

There may be additional articles of 100 pages max – see lecture presentations.

Module 2: Politics and Human rights

• Bates, Robert (2008) When Things Fell Apart. State-Failure in Late-Century Africa. Cambridge.
• Goodhart, Michael (2008) “Human Rights and Global Democracy” Ethics and International Affairs, vol 22, no 4: 395-420.
• Newton, Kenneth & Jan van Deth (2010) Foundations of Comparative Politics. Cambridge, 2nd ed.
• Rotberg, Robert (2002) ”The New Nature of Nation-State Failure” The Washington Quarterly. Tillgänglig via:
• Internet-based simulation of scenarios in Human Rights in international politics NB! It is mandatory for each student to register and pay the license-fee of 30 USD.

There may be additional articles of 100 pages max – see lecture presentations.

Module 3: Philosophy, Religion and Human rights

• Banchoff, T, Wuthnow, R (Eds.)(2011) Religion and the Global Politics of Human Rights, Oxford Univ. Press: New York
• Hayden, Patrick (2001) The Philosophy of Human Rights (St. Paul: Paragon House) (appr 100 pages, reading instructions will be given by teachers)
• Hehir, J. Bryan (2010): "The modern Catholic Church and human rights: the impact of the Second Vatican Council" in John Witte, Jr. and Frank S. Alexander (red.), Christianity and Human Rights. An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 113-134.
• Miller, David (2003) Political Philosophy. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Nickel, James W. (2007) Making Sense of Human Rights (Oxford: Blackwell, 2nd ed).
• Roald, Anne Sofie (2010): ” Multiculturalism and religious legislation in Sweden” in M Haydeh Moghissi and Halleh Ghorashi (red.), Muslim Diaspora in the West. Negotiating Gender, Home and Belonging, Surrey and Burlington: Ashgate, pp. 55-72 (avaliable as E-book at Malmö University library).
• Witte, John, Jr, Green, Christian (2011), Religion and Human Rights. An Introduction, (Oxford Univ. Press).
• Wolterstorff, Nicholas P. (2010): "Modern Protestant developments in human rights" in John Witte, Jr. and Frank S. Alexander (red.), Christianity and Human Rights. An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, s. 155-172.
• There may be additional articles of 100 pages max – see lecture presentations.

Course evaluation

All students are offered an opportunity to give written feedback at the end of the course. A summary of the results will be made available. The students are also given a possibility to offer feedback through the course council.

Student participation takes place through the course council.