University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Political Theory of International Human Rights (PGSP11161)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis is a course for political theory students and addresses contemporary issues and debates relating to human rights. It includes debates about: philosophical questions concerning what human rights are; the normative difference between social/economic and civil/political rights, relating these to ideas of 'positive' vs 'negative' rights; whether and how severe poverty is a matter of human rights violation; whether human rights support or conflict with goals of democracy, domestically and internationally; whether/when human rights concerns can legitimate intervention, even military, in other states' affairs; whether human rights principles are consistent with, or a challenge to, the principle of state sovereignty; whether human rights can or should be used to the ends of environmental protection; whether human rights are culturally relative or genuinely universal.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Political Theory and International Affairs (PGSP11111)
Co-requisites Students MUST also take: War and Morality (PLIT11011)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the competing philosophical arguments about the nature and conditions of existence of human rights
  2. Assess the relationship between legal and moral framings of human rights and the different categories of human rights (e.g. social, economic, civil, political)
  3. Assess the arguments for and against cultural relativist critiques of human rights as universal
  4. Assess the role of human rights in cases such as environmental protection and humanitarian intervention
  5. Assess the competing claims of human rights and the principles of state sovereignty and democracy
Reading List
Beetham, D (ed) (1995) Politics and Human Rights (Political Studies special issue) Blackwell
Boyle, A and Anderson, M (1996) Human Rights Approaches to Environmental Protection, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Caney, S & Jones, P (eds) (2001) Human Rights and Global Diversity, F. Cass.
Davidson, S (1993) Human Rights, Open University Press.
Donnelly, J (1998) International Human Rights, 2nd edn., Westview, Boulder Colorado.
Donnelly, J (1989) Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. Cornell UP.
Dunne, T & Wheeler, N (eds) (1999) Human Rights in Global Politics Cambridge UP
Evans, T (ed) (1998) Human Rights Fifty Years On: a reappraisal, Manchester UP.
Hayden, P (2001) The Philosophy of Human Rights, Paragon House.
Hayward, T (2005) Constitutional Environmental Rights, Oxford University Press.
Jones, P (1994) Rights, Macmillan.
Martin, R (1993) A System of Rights, Clarendon Press, Oxford [online OSO]
Morsink, J (1999) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: origins, drafting and intent, University of Pennsylvania Press.
Nickel, J (1987) Making Sense of Human Rights, Univ of California Press. Scanned
text available online from
Orend, B (2002) Human Rights: Concept and Context, Broadview Press.
Pogge, T (2007) World Poverty and Human Rights, 2nd edn, Polity Press.
Raphael, DD (ed) (1967) Political Theory and the Rights of Man, Indiana UP.
Rawls, J (1999) The Law of Peoples, Harvard UP.
Renteln, A (1990) International Human Rights: universalism versus relativism. Sage
Shue, H (1980) Basic rights : subsistence, affluence, and U.S. foreign policy. Princeton University Press. (Also a 2nd edition, 1996)
Vincent, R (1986) Human Rights and International Relations. Cambridge UP
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information In 2011 it is expected to run this course as a guided reading course: students meet weekly for two-hour self-led discussion of the week's set texts.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Philip Cook
Tel: (0131 6)51 1577
Course secretaryMrs Gillian Macdonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information
© Copyright 2015 The University of Edinburgh - 18 January 2016 4:38 am