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Human Rights and Global Justice (UNIB20009)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5Not available in 2019

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Year of offerNot available in 2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeUNIB20009
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject introduces students to the history, theory, goals and practice of international human rights. It will explore the way in which various disciplines intersect and contribute to an understanding of the extent to which human rights can contribute to global justice. Teachers and practitioners provide competing (and complementary) perspectives on key human rights themes including: the origins of human rights; universal rights versus cultural difference; the relationship between civil/political rights and economic/social rights; causes of human rights abuses; the role of states, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organisations in protecting and promoting human rights, and methods of implementation. Specific human rights case studies that are used to investigate these broad themes will be drawn from issues such as: state-sanctioned torture; foreign aid and development; humanitarian intervention; refugees; human trafficking; human rights and climate change; the relationship between bioethics and human rights; the rights of groups and communities; poverty; and the role of scientific methods and tools in implementation.

Intended learning outcomes

This University Breadth Subject has the objective of exposing undergraduate students from an array of faculties to conceptual debates around human rights that are foundational to liberalism and liberal internationalism. It also seeks to expose students to human rights 'practitioners': lawyers, advocates, community leaders, international and domestic government officials, and politicians. A broader aim is to give students not only a sense of how individual disciplines (such as law, science, politics and history) separately approach a particular issue, but also how they can work together.

Generic skills

Students successfully completing this subject will develop high-level skills in the following areas:

  • Critical research and analysis, based on an understanding of the relationship between the disciplines of politics, law and history;
  • Research essay writing;
  • Oral communication and argument; and
  • Ability to engage with, and begin to resolve, the practical dilemmas facing advocates, lawyers, governors and administrators in the field of human rights.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

Completion of at least 100 points of undergraduate study.

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • An in-class test, held mid-semester (10%)
  • A 1,800 word research assignment, due mid-semester (40%);
  • A 2,200 word take-home examination, held at the end of semester (50%).

Dates & times

Not available in 2019

Time commitment details

136 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    • Printed subject materials will be available from the University Co-Op Bookshop.

    Electronic copies of the required readings will also be available via the LMS subject page.

    Recommended texts and other resources

    • Rhonda L Callaway and Julie Harrelson-Stephens eds, Exploring International Human Rights: Essential Readings (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007);
    • Jack Donnelly, International Human Rights (Westview Press, 4th ed, 2012);
    • Henry J Steiner, Philip Alston and Ryan Goodman, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals (3rd ed, Oxford University Press, 2008);
    • Stephen Krasner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton University Press, 1999);
    • Michael Freeman, Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Polity Press, latest edition);
    • Tim Dunne and Nicholas Wheeler (ed), Human Rights in Global Politics (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

    Additional information for this subject

    If required, please contact law-admissions@unimelb.edu.au for subject coordinator approval.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 18 July 2019