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Postgraduate Module Descriptor

LAWM671: International Human Rights Law

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover the following topics in the order indicated:


Nature and Development of Human Rights in International Law

Global standard–setting

Regional standard-setting

Legal accountability for Human Rights I – Interpretation

Legal accountability for Human Rights II – Human Rights Treaty Bodies  

Responses to gross violations – responsibility to protect

UN Charter-Based Supervision

Emerging Challenges – The Role of Non-State actors

Reporting from Treaty Body observation and wrap up.

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities3Three-hour lecture which will introduce the subject matter of the module and will provide the foundation for guided independent study.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities3311 x three hour lecturer-led seminars. You will be expected to make at least one presentation during the course of the seminar programme.
Guided independent study80Reading assignments
Guided independent study114Essay and oral presentation preparation: conducting research and writing the finished product (36 hours per item, 108 hours total)
Guided independent study70Preparation for the examination

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).

Human rights documents and materials:

UN Documentation: Human Rights:

Universal Human Rights Index:

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:

European Convention on Human Rights website:

European Court of Human Rights:

Inter-American Court of Human Rights:

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights:

American Society of International Law Electronic Resource Guide on International Human Rights:

Other Learning Resources

Rosalyn Higgins, Problems & Process: International Law and How We Use It (Clarendon) 1994

Philip Alston and James Crawford (eds.), The Future of UN Human Rights Treaty Monitoring (CUP) 2000

Philip Alston and Mary Robinson (eds), Human Rights and Development: Towards Mutual Reinforcement (OUP) 2005

Andrew Clapham, Human Rights Obligations of Non-State Actors (OUP) 2006

Christian Tomuschat, Human Rights. Between Idealism and Realism (OUP) 2008

Adam McBeth, Justine Nolan, Simon Rice, The International Law of Human Rights (OUP) 2011

Michael Haas, International Human Rights, 2nd ed (Routledge) 2013