Optional (10 ECTS Credits) – Spring Term

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
  • Economic, social and cultural rights
  • Human rights and armed conflict
  • Legal expertise regarding specific human rights issues

Overall, the module aims to refine 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 an optional module open to all students on the MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights. Building on Module I (The Foundations of International Human Rights Law), it aims to develop a more advanced legal understanding around a broad range of crucially important aspects of human rights principles and practice.

Section A – Securing Social Justice through Human Rights Law – explores how international law engages with key questions of social justice that go to the very heart of the discipline, ranging from the principle of equality to economic, social and cultural rights and the protection of minorities. A reading week mid-term allows you to consolidate your learning (an optional session on child rights is also run during this week). Section B – Securing Human Rights during Armed Conflict – focuses on how law seeks to protect human dignity during armed conflict and other public emergencies. In both Sections, a broad topic focus is each week combined with detailed thematic study of a particular area of contention to give you the widest possible exposure to human rights law.


6,000 legal research essay = 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 Sarah Singer. 


"This module ultimately convinced me to pursue a career in law, and I have since completed the Graduate Diploma in Law. On the academic side, it gave me the confidence to navigate through international legislation, and a firm grasp of the basic legal principals in international law. On the practical side, I learned about the role of states and other institutions in human rights and humanitarian law. It's an area of law that most law students don't have the opportunity to study, and it really puts human rights into the context of the world outside human rights campaigning. I recommend this module highly."

Yu Anami (2011-12)