Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

International Human Rights Law LAW5035

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course will introduce and analyse the rights of individuals as guaranteed by international law. The course features a detailed coverage of international human rights institutions, with a focus on the United Nations system and discussion of regional systems.


10 x 2 hour seminars in semester 1

Requirements of Entry

The course is open to all LLM students subject to the requirements of the LLM programme on which a student is enrolled.

Excluded Courses





The course is assessed by a 2000 word essay (40%) and a 3000 word essay (60%).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

The course is designed to provide students with a detailed knowledge of the international human rights regime. It focuses on the distinct but overlapping systems in place at the international level under the auspices of the United Nations (treaty based and Charter based) as well as introducing the regional systems in existence (such as the system at the European level). The course will begin by setting out the various means by which human rights have been guaranteed and the mechanisms by which state compliance is ensured. The course will consider several important human rights guarantees, consider the participants in the system (states, NGOs, individuals, etc.) and discuss the domestic enforcement of the international standards.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of the course, students should be able to do the following at a level appropriate to study at Masters level:

1. appreciate the philosophical background of international human rights;

2. understand the enforcement mechanisms for the protection of fundamental rights at international level;
3. discuss the effectiveness of the various
methods of human rights protection and supervision;

4. understand how international human rights law interacts with public international law;

5. critically evaluate the improvements which can be made in human rights protection at the international


6.  apply international human rights law to particular case studies;

7.  use the law library and IT to research primary and secondary sources in international human rights;

8. present both oral and written legal argument on selected areas of study in human rights law; and

9. develop oral and written communication skills.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.