The University of Southampton

LAWS3115 International Protection of Human Rights (Visiting Students Only)

Module Overview

Following the atrocities of World War II, states agreed to safeguard the inherent dignity of every human being by protecting inalienable rights to which all members of the human family were equally entitled. Those rights, internationally recognised as ‘human rights’, are still relevant today as they remain heavily violated worldwide and require protection. Various mechanisms have been established at the international and regional levels to monitor human rights’ implementation. Furthermore, various actors have come into play. Human rights law is not limited to interactions between states and international organisations anymore; it also involves the civil society and must face challenges raised by non-state actors. These interactions, embedded in issues of poverty, terrorism and democracy, have created a rich and fascinating corpus of law: this is what the module International Protection of Human Rights will explore. This module is designed for students to understand the pillars of human rights law; to identify its key institutions and instruments; and to acquire a transferrable set of research skills.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide you with knowledge and critical understanding of the key aspects of international human rights law.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The protection of human rights by the United Nations: key institutions and instruments
  • The protection of human rights by regional frameworks: key institutions and instruments
  • The relationship between civil and political rights, with economic, social and cultural rights
  • The actors in the realisation of human rights law: right-holders and duty-bearers
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify, locate and analyse key international human rights instruments
  • Reflect upon, appraise the importance of, and compare the main mechanisms of human rights protection at the international and regional level
  • Reflect upon and appraise the strengths and weaknesses of the key institutions created in the arena of international human rights law
  • Analyse and be able to rationalise the limitations of international human rights law/explain and rationalise such limitations
  • Produce effectively reasoned and structured responses to a given proposition or statement, which are supported by reference to legal authority
  • Communicate in writing an understanding of key aspects of international human rights law; formulate effective arguments with clear and accurate use of language and legal terminology
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse, interpret and evaluate complex material
  • Effectively apply knowledge to solve practical problems
  • Formulate an effectively reasoned and structured argument
  • Communicate and present written arguments supported by appropriate references
  • Critically analyse contemporary issues in the light of human rights law


Semester 1 will cover supranational mechanisms of human rights protection. We will, thus, examine the main international and regional frameworks, the rights they protect, the instruments on which they rely, as well as the actors and possibly other fields of law with which they interact. SYLLABUS 1 – Mechanisms of human rights protection in the United Nations and in regional systems 2 – Scope, key actors, and indivisibility of rights in human rights law 3 – Human rights law in practice = the prohibition of the death penalty and/or the principle of non-discrimination

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching Methods include: 1. Seminars (2 hours per week) - they will provide knowledge and information within a structured context – reading is required in preparation Learning Activities include: 1. Directed reading, assisted by reading lists and (sometimes) availability of materials on Blackboard; 2. Accessing electronic resources in the form of international legal instruments, journal articles and primary materials; 3. Reviewing and evaluating complex material 4. Tackling and solving factual problems of international law 5. Formulating and presenting in oral form (through class participation) and in written form (assessed essay) reasoned and structured arguments 6. Reading groups 7. Debates 8 Completions of summative assessment identified below Lectures will develop: • The structure of the subject and the key applicable principles and role of international law in the fields under consideration • Your understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the key institutions created in the arena of international human rights law • Your understanding of the limitations of international human rights law • A critical perspective upon the protection of human rights worldwide Preparation for and participation in tutorials/ seminars will develop: • Your knowledge of the substantive principles of international human rights law • Your ability to manage and access a diverse range of sources of law • Your ability to collate arguments for and against propositions relating to the law • Your ability to critical assess new perspectives on the law • Your ability to participate constructively in oral discussions concerning the above • Summary of assessment and feedback methods

Follow-up work5
Completion of assessment task41
Preparation for scheduled sessions70
Wider reading or practice5
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Alison Bisset (2014). Blackstone’s International Human Rights Documents. 

international treaty texts available from the UN’s website. 

cases from legal databases/institutions’ websites. 

Daniel Moeckli, Sangeeta Shah and Sandesh Sikumaran (2014). International Human Rights Law. 

journal articles available via ‘Heinonline’. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Other textbook

Core textbook

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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