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Unit information: The Politics of Human Rights in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name The Politics of Human Rights
Unit code POLI30026
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Ashley Dodsworth
Open unit status Not open
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School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Unit Information

The Politics of Human Rights introduces students to the debates over human rights. Exploring the contemporary debates over rights to migration and torture, the theoretical underpinnings of the concept of human rights, debates over who can possess such rights and the ethical considerations over measurement, this unit will enable students to both understand and participate in the dominant moral language of contemporary politics and the contested attempts to apply it.

The aims of this unit are:

  • to examine the theoretical and practical underpinnings of human rights
  • explore what is meant by ‘human’, how such rights have developed, the extent of their reach and their measurement.
  • enable students to understand the contemporary political debate surrounding five rights; the rights of migrants, the right to life, the right to freedom from torture, gender rights and environmental rights

Your learning on this unit

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • Thoroughly understand the development of human rights and the problems inherent with the definition of these concepts, particularly with regard to the terms ‘universality’ and ‘human’
  • Show a mastery of the methodologies that are used to assess human rights fulfilment and the ability to apply these methods appropriately
  • Assess and critically evaluate the contemporary debate surrounding key human rights and develop their own position in response
  • Present and defend a detailed and well-structured position in response to the relevant academic literature and their own research

How you will learn

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

How you will be assessed

1,500 word essay (25%) 3,000 word essay (75%)


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. POLI30026).

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.