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The University of Southampton

LAWS3168 International Human Rights Law

Module Overview

Following the atrocities of World War II, states internationally 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, 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 Human Rights Law will explore. This module is designed for you to understand the pillars of human rights law; to identify its key institutions and instruments; and to acquire a transferrable set of research skills. The precise content of the module will be influenced by staff’s on-going research in relevant areas and by topical developments in this field.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • the history and sources of international human rights law;
  • the key mechanisms of protection of international human rights law;
  • the scope of international human rights law: indivisibility of rights and key actors.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • construct legal arguments through the analysis of relevant legal materials and literature;
  • apply the legal rules and principles studied on the module to factual scenarios;
  • analyse academic literature on international human rights law and situate your argument in relation to the arguments or positions advanced in that literature.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate skills of self-management including an ability to reflect on the content and quality of your own work;
  • formulate an effectively reasoned and structured argument supported by appropriate references;
  • make critical judgments about international materials and relevant literature.


This module will introduce you to international human rights law. Subject to availability of staff and their research expertise, we will explore the history and sources of international human rights law. We will cover various supranational mechanisms of protection through which international human rights law operates. We will examine the scope of this discipline by studying substantive rights and key actors in their implementation. SYLLABUS A – History and sources of international human rights law B – Mechanisms of human rights protection in the United Nations and in regional systems C – Scope of international human rights law: indivisibility of rights and key actors

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching Methods include 1. Lectures will provide you with knowledge and information within a structured context – reading is required in preparation. 2. Tutorials will require that you prepare answers to a list of questions supplied in advance – they allow you to maximise your performance in the summative assessments. Learning Activities include • Directed reading, assisted by reading lists and (sometimes) availability of materials on Blackboard; • Accessing electronic resources in the form of international legal instruments, journal articles and primary materials; • Reviewing and evaluating complex material • Tackling and solving factual problems of international human rights law • Formulating and presenting in oral form (through class participation) and in written form (assessed essay) reasoned and structured arguments • Reading groups • Debates • Completion of summative assessment

Preparation for scheduled sessions70
Follow-up work7
Completion of assessment task16
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Ilas Bantekas, Lutz Oette (2016). International Human Rights Law and Practice. 

Blackboard. All reading lists/ lecture hand-outs etc. are made available via ‘Blackboard’

Alison Bisset (ed) (2016). Blackstone's International Human Rights Documents. 

Electronic Resources. Extensive use of electronically available resources – journal articles available via ‘Heinonline’, international treaty texts available from the UN’s website, cases from legal databases/institutions’ websites



Essay or problem question


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%


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:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate. Please ensure you also look for other costs on the 201718, module profile things such as field trips to ensure they are also included in this section, note that some modules also have printing costs which need to be added to this section. Core textbook (£34) + 1 statute book (£17) = £51

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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