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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Human Rights (LAWS10142)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThis course aims to provide a comprehensive overview of international, regional and national systems for protecting human rights, and of the relationship between them, so as to build on the treatment of human rights in Public Law and Individual Rights. The course will examine the difficulties and controversies in enforcing civil and political rights, socio-economic rights and group rights, respectively. The course will also examine specialist regimes such as those relating to women, children, national minorities and indigenous peoples. Each topic will be approached so as to provide an overview of the topic and contextual examination of the practical difficulties of enforcing rights by focusing on how a particular human rights abuse has been addressed in practice. Finally, the course will cover current controversies in human rights law such as how to deal with 'transitional justice', or the debate over a bill of rights in the UK context. The course aims to be useful to those interested in human rights and legal practice, but also to human rights advocacy in a non-governmental setting, and for those interested in rights issues more generally.
Course description This course aims to develop a detailed knowledge and an in-depth understanding of domestic, regional and international human rights law and how it interconnects in practice. In addition, it aims to develop an appreciation and understanding of the limitations of the framework of human rights law and to introduce students to controversies in the application of rights. Further, the course aims to develop a student's ability to handle legal materials and to apply the basic principles of human rights law to hypothetical problems.

The course focuses on four main areas:

Semester 1:

I International Human Rights Law

This section of the course will introduce the concept of human rights and critiques of it. It will consider the main international and regional human rights treaties, looking at each through a practical application to a human rights problem (invented or actual).

II Generations of Rights?

In this section of the course we will examine arguments that there are different 'generations' of rights. We will examine the differences and similarities between civil and political rights, socio-economic and cultural rights, and group rights. However, the discussion will involve looking at a particular rights struggle, and reinforcing understanding of how the mechanisms examined in section I of the course operate in practice.

Semester 2

III Bringing Rights Home: Scotland, UK and ECHR

In this section of the course we will examine the relationship between international and regional human rights standards and the Scottish and UK context. This section will build on work in PLUS and PLAIR, and on the work undertaken in Semester I.

IV Current Issues (topics to be confirmed closer to the time)

Throughout the course, human rights achievements, and sadly new forms of abuse, will continue to unfold. We will continue to keep a watching brief on these, and take advice from, and draw on the interests of those on the course, to respond to these by offering classes dealing with them.
he course objectives are:

- To introduce students to the building blocks of the domestic, regional and international systems of human rights
- To illustrate the interconnections between domestic, regional and international enforcement of human rights
- To illustrate the operation of the European Convention on Human Rights, making sure that students can work with its case law
- To illustrate the main mechanisms of protection and promotion of human rights in the United Kingdom and in Scotland in particular
- To demonstrate the relationship of international human rights law to other international legal regimes, such as humanitarian law and international criminal law
- To enable students to use human rights law to respond to practical examples of violations of rights
- To encourage students to engage critically with human rights law
- To encourage students to engage with current controversies regarding human rights
- To build students transferable skills in practical reasoning from within the subject

Students will be expected to develop a sophisticated sense of how to read relevant primary materials as well as the ability to engage with demanding secondary texts. Students will be expected to apply materials to hypothetical and real life scenarios.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of international, regional and domestic human rights law, and their inter-relationship as described above.
  2. Develop applied knowledge, skills and understanding by looking at key cases and fact pattern scenarios. This is assessed in the coursework which is based on a fictitious fact-pattern which tests capacity to apply learning to a complex set of facts which bring up a range of issues and potential areas of law and remedies.
  3. Demonstrate oral and written communication skills, developed through class argumentation and presentations, and written assessment.
  4. Show autonomy, accountability and capacity to work with others, through class preparation, group based exercises and assessment.
Reading List
Students are encouraged to read:

Bisset, A (ed) Blackstone's International Human Rights Documents (Oxford University Press, 9th ed, 2013)

De Schutter, O, International Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2010) (available electronically as well as on reserve, 2014 new edition coming soon)

Joseph, S, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Moeckli, D, S Shah and Sandesh Sivakumaran (eds) International Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Rehman, J, International Human Rights Law: A Practical Approach, (Longman, 2nd ed., 2010)

Smith, R, Textbook on International Human Rights Law, (Oxford University Press, 6thedn 2013) (with an online resource)

Smith, R, Text and Materials on International Human Rights (Routledge, 3rd edn 2013)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsHuman Rights
Course organiserDr Elisenda Casanas Adam
Tel: (0131 6)50 9815
Course secretaryMrs Heather Haig
Tel: (0131 6)50 2053
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