10 ECTS Credits – Autumn Term

This module is optional for students undertaking the Latin America pathway but is compulsory for other students.

Aims and Objectives

The module aims to build a solid understanding of the following topics:

  • Key concepts in international law, and how they shape human rights law
  • The application and interpretation of civil and political rights standards
  • International mechanisms for the protection of human rights

Overall, the module aims to instil the following skills:

  • Confidence in dealing with and critiquing the law
  • Constructing legal arguments (oral and written)
  • Analysing facts against a legal framework and problem-solving
  • Reading treaties, case-law and other international law materials
  • Conducting legal research

Module Outline

This is a compulsory module for students on the MA Understanding and Securing Human Rights. It aims to provide all students – regardless of whether they have a legal background - with a firm understanding of how human rights are translated into international law.

To appreciate how human rights are translated into law requires a basic grounding in public international law. This is provided by Section A – Understanding Human Rights through International Law. Each class introduces foundational concepts in international law and ties these to important debates within international human rights law. A reading week in the middle of term offers the chance for you to review your learning in this Section. Section B – Securing Human Rights through International Law - builds a critical understanding of the main international human rights systems through which human rights standards are developed and enforced in practice. This broad institutional focus is complemented each week by in-depth analysis of particular human rights standards.


6,000 human rights law brief assignment = 90% of the total grade. 
Seminar participation = 10% of the total grade.

This module is ordinarily taught on Tuesdays. Lectures usually take place from 10.00am to 12.00 and individual classes are held at 12.30 to 1.30pm, 2.30pm to 3.30pm or 3.45pm to 4.45pm.

This module is taught by Dr David Cantor.


"Coming from a Law background this module nonetheless provided a lot of additional information that previous international law classes I had visited had not covered. Teaching the theory but combining it with the influence it has on the practical side is a difficult task which was perfectly achieved by the tutors. Using current situations and cases on which we could apply what we had learned made the module more interesting and realistic. I can only recommend this module to all students taking the MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights."

Ralph Hemsley (2012-13)