Business and Human Rights

Optional (10 ECTS Credits) – Spring Term

Aims and Objectives

This module is aimed at a further understanding of western political, economic, and social structures in order to promote the understanding of human rights and those factors, which may influence a human rights agenda. The module is based on the concept that it is not until these governing structures are properly understood and considered that lasting and effectual rights realization can occur. The module will look at important developments in the field of Business and Human Rights, developing on key theoretical and practical themes discussed in the autumn term. The module is designed to present the student with a basic, but broad understanding of economics, finance, and their political and social contexts.

Module Outline

Specifically the module will look at the interrelated components of business and how these affect the understanding and securing of human rights. The module is divided into sections: 1) ‘Considering Business and Human Rights’, 2) ‘Business and Human Rights in Context’.

Section one will provide a foundation of economic knowledge that will be developed into a holistic understanding of the key problems faced in the field of Business and Human Rights. This section will impart an understanding of the main theoretical and practical ideas in finance and economics; it will work toward an understanding of economic and financial systems, and will consider how these theories, concepts, and systems work in relation to human rights.

The second section will focus on global problems in human rights, how these relate to economic systems, and what this means for development, globalization, and state autonomy. The second section will discuss different approaches in the practical applications of business and human rights theory, considering how mechanisms like financial regulation and economic policy feature in the business and human rights debate. There will be a discussion of the 'financial crisis', recession and austerity and how these directly impact the securing or human rights worldwide. This section will consider the role of key institutions and actors and will emphasize the different ways they deal with the problems faced in the business and human rights arena.


3,000 word essay = 60% of the total grade.
Student led seminar presentation = 10% of the total grade.
Seminar participation = 10% of the total grade.
24hr take home exam = 20% of the total grade.

The module is convened by Dr Damien Short and taught by members of the Human Rights Consortium’s Corporate Power and Human Rights Project.