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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Cultures of Human Rights and Humanitarianism (PGSP11295)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPostgrad (School of Social and Political Studies) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThe need to save humanity from itself has become one of the dominant cries in contemporary politics. The claims of human rights and humanitarianism have been at the forefront of this global urge to mend, ameliorate, or even transform the circumstances of disorder and atrocity, bring with them very particular visions of what it means to be human. However, the languages of human rights and humanitarianism are not a human constant. We therefore need to ask how have the approaches of human rights and humanitarianism become dominant, what assumptions do they hold and what tensions do they contain? As such, this course provides an examination of the nature of contemporary thinking and practice in the fields of human rights and humanitarianism. The core of the course is rooted in a broadly anthropological approach to the issues, but draws widely on history, politics, and sociology. Contemporary case studies will be used in order to illustrate the issues.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?No
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 2, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  50
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 13/01/2014
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. By the end of the course, students should:

- Have an extensive and critical understanding of key debates relating to human rights and humanitarianism.
- Have an advanced and critical understanding of the contribution of anthropology and other qualitative social sciences to the critical analysis of human rights and humanitarianism.
- Have an advanced and critical understanding of the historical and cultural particularity of contemporary ideas about human rights and humanitarianism.
2. The course's aim is to provide students with a critical understanding of the historical and cultural specificity of contemporary notions of human rights and humanitarianism. This involves the following: analysing the common origins and differences between human rights and humanitarians; analysing the specific assumptions about what it means to be human embedded within human rights and humanitarianism; analysing the ways in which human rights and humanitarianism are embedded within specific political configurations; analysing the relationship between the aspiration and practice of human rights and humanitarianism; and applying social science approaches to key controversies within the fields of human rights and humanitarianism.
Assessment Information
The course will be assessed by two components. The first is 1500 word essay, submitted part way through the course, on a topic of contemporary relevance, worth 20% of the final mark. The second is a 3000 word essay to be submitted after the end of the course, worth 80% of the final mark. Suggested long essay titles will be provided during the course, but students are entitled to use their own titles if they clear these with the course organiser before writing the essay.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Indicative Syllabus:

Week 1: Human Rights and Humanitarianism: An Introduction
Week 2: Colonialism, Human Rights and Humanitarianism
Week 3: Human Rights Activism
Week 4: Torture
Week 5: Transitional Justice
Week 6: Refuge
Week 7: Trauma
Week 8: The Right to be Healthy
Week 9: Humanitarianism, Human Rights, and Armed Conflict
Week 10: International Criminal Justice
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Indicative Reading:

Barnett, Michael and Thomas G. Weiss. 2009. Humanitarianism in Question: Politics, Power, Ethics. Cornell University Press.
Fassin, Didier and Richard Rechtman. 2009. Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood. Princeton University Press.
Ignatieff, Michael. 2001. Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry. Princeton University Press.
Kennedy, David. 2004. The Dark Side of Virtue: Reassessing International Humanitarianism. Princeton University Press.
Merry, Sally Engle. 2005. Human Rights and Gender Violence: Translating International Law into Local Justice. University of Chicago Press.
Moyn, Samuel. 2010. The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History. Columbia University Press.
Sontag, Susan 2003. Regarding the Pain of Others. Picador.
Wilson, Richard A. and Richard Brown, eds. 2009. Humanitarianism and Suffering: The Mobilization of Empathy. Cambridge University Press.
Wilson, Richard. 2001. The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern The course will consist of 10 two hour slots. Every week will consist of a one hour lecture. The second hour will consist of seminar style discussion, with students having the opportunity to raise questions, to discuss topics brought up in the lecture and the readings, and to give short presentations on themes of their interest.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Tobias Kelly
Tel: (0131 6)50 3986
Course secretaryMs Jessica Barton
Tel: (0131 6)51 1659
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