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Unit information: Human Rights in Law, Politics and Society in 2021/22

Unit name Human Rights in Law, Politics and Society
Unit code LAWD30125
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Mr. Burton
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit covers the following topics: the origins and history of the human rights ideal and its contested status in debates about law, politics and society; the internationalization and globalization of human rights; arguments about the universality and limits of human rights particularly with respect to a range of value systems; attempts to sanction human rights violations through legal and especially judicial processes, particularly by the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court; and some sharp contemporary debates, including, but not limited to, the profile of human rights in processes of democratization, and in response to terrorism.

Intended Learning Outcomes

The unit is intended to cultivate and encourage reflective and creative engagement with issues rather than simply knowledge acquisition and transfer, expectations which are fully conveyed to students in lectures and seminars. By the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

  • Explain the nature of the human rights ideal and its contested status in debates in, and between, western and non-western value systems, and about globalization, international law and international relations;
  • Identify and discuss some core debates where human rights are particularly central, eg poverty, counterterrorism, multiculturalism;
  • State the various arguments and positions in key debates accurately, assess them critically and come to nuanced, reasoned conclusions about how the issues might best be understood and problems resolved;
  • Demonstrate the following benchmark skills:
    • Selection of sources from a wide range of suggested literature;
    • Reading in depth and in breadth;
    • Critical analysis of written texts;
    • Written argumentation.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities

Assessment Information

1 x summative assessment: Timed Open Book Assessment with a specified word count (100%)

The assessment will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. LAWD30125).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.