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Human Rights (POLS90038)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePOLS90038
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject examines the theory and practice of international human rights. It explores the historical origin of the idea of human rights culminating in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and critically examines the development of human rights regimes and practice at the international and regional levels. Key issues examined include the philosophical and political debates about the foundations and practice of human rights, including whether human rights have outgrown their western origins; the relationship between international human rights law and international and domestic politics; human rights advocacy and the role of NGOs; international responses to human rights abuses; and the challenge of human rights enforcement, including the role of international courts and tribunals. These issues will be explored through a range of case studies, such as the rights of refugees, protection against people trafficking, protection against torture, gender discrimination and the rights of ethnic minorities.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • Develop a critical understanding of the historical evolution of international human rights;
  • Develop a critical understanding of the key issues, challenges, actors, and institutions associated with human rights advocacy and protection, standard setting and enforcement;
  • Develop a critical understanding of the key philosophical and political debates on human rights;
  • Develop a sound knowledge of the human rights practice across a range of different issue areas;
  • Develop a critical understanding of the possibilities and limits of international human rights.

Generic skills

On successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • Apply research skills and critical methods to a field of inquiry;
  • Develop persuasive arguments on a given topic;
  • Communicate oral and written arguments and ideas effectively;
  • Develop cross-cultural understanding.

Eligibility and requirements


Admission to the Master of International Relations



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

Politics and International Studies at the Undergraduate Level

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


Additional details

  • A 2000 word case study analysis (40%) due during the semester
  • A 3000 word research essay (60%) due during the examination period.
  • Hurdle requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% of classes in order to pass this subject and regular class participation is expected.

Dates & times

  • Semester 2
    Principal coordinatorCarla Winston
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours24 contact hours: A 2-hour seminar per week for 12 weeks.
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period29 July 2019 to 27 October 2019
    Last self-enrol date 9 August 2019
    Census date31 August 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail27 September 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    Semester 2 contact information

Time commitment details

Total of 170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    Readings will be provided online through the subject's LMS site prior to the commencement of semester.

  • 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

    Subject coordinator approval required

  • 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: 3 August 2019