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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: International law, human rights and corporate accountability (LAWS11341)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will examine the history of human rights beginning with a discussion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 through to contemporary issues generated by globalization.

In addition to analysing International Human Rights Law and the rights and duties of multinational corporations and state actors regarding human rights, the course will consider the contributions of institutions, NGOs and the international human rights movement.

Throughout the weeks we will evaluate aspects of accountability, enforcement and legal liability. Case study analysis will be used to examine human rights abuses, litigation, the role of states to protect human rights and the culpability of corporate actions. We will discuss the controversial issues surrounding corporations as subjects of international law while considering trends for future remedies including the concept of legally binding requirements.

Aims & objectives:

1. Outline the fundamental rights espoused in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and explore the effects of globalization;

2. Assess rights and duties of state actors and multinational corporations in the area of human rights;
debate the international legal status of business organizations and review international initiatives and enforcement methods;

3. Analyse court cases on human rights abuses;

4. Critique the successes and remaining challenges for the protection of human rights.
Course description The course will comprise the following weekly topics

Week 1. History of human rights
Week 2. Globalization and corporate social responsibility
Week 3. States duty to protect - evaluating human rights practices
Week 4. Institutions, movements and international initiatives
Week 5. Corporate power, influence and legal status
Week 6. International human rights law
Week 7. Civil liability for overseas corporate human rights abuses
Week 8. Corporate criminal liability
Week 9. Mechanisms of enforcement on corporations and other private actors
Week 10. Trends in international law relating to corporate liability for human rights violations
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Please contact the online learning team at
Additional Costs Students must have regular and reliable access to the internet.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One essay of up to 4,000 words (60%); one individual assignment (20%); a portfolio of contributions made to weekly online discussions throughout the semester (20%).

Requirements for all course assessments will be outlined to students within the individual courses at the start of each semester.
Feedback Students will have the opportunity to obtain formative feedback over the course of the semester. The feedback provided will assist students in their preparation for the summative assessment.

Details of the School's feedback policy will be available at the start of the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Explain human rights issues in the context of global business;
  2. Reconcile the need for competitive markets, sovereignty and human rights protections;
  3. Compare institutions and methods for enforcement of international human rights law and corporate social responsibility;
  4. Evaluate the legal findings on human rights cases and assess corporate civil and criminal liability;
  5. Recommend measures to achieve human rights through due diligence and corporate accountability.
Reading List
The set text for this course is: 'Just Business: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights' (Amnesty International Global Ethics Series), by John Ruggie - 1st edition, W. W. Norton & Company (2013).

A detailed list of key resources will be available at the start of the course.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop their skills and abilities in:

1. Research and enquiry, through e.g. selecting and deploying appropriate research techniques;

2. Personal and intellectual autonomy, e.g. developing the ability to independently assess the relevance and importance of primary and secondary sources;

3. Communication, e.g. skills in summarising and communicating information and ideas effectively in written form;

4. Personal effectiveness, e.g. working constructively as a member of an online community;

5. Students will also develop their technical/practical skills, throughout the course, e.g. in articulating, evidencing and sustaining a line of argument, and engaging in a convincing critique of another's arguments.
Special Arrangements This course is taught by online learning.
Additional Class Delivery Information This course is taught by online learning.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMs Marie Gerardin
Course secretaryMs Clare Polson
Tel: (0131 6)51 9704
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