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.

Critical Perspectives On Human Rights POLITIC5004

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

The purpose of the course is to introduce key theories of human rights and analyse how human rights are addressed in practice. The course draws on a range of critical perspectives of human rights as well as regional case study examples. 


Two hours in a seminar format once a week

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory course for students undertaking MSc in Human Rights and International Politics; optional course for students in other MSc programme


One group project (2,500-3,000) words, to be submitted in November) (15%)

Participation mark for course (10%)

One 3000-3,500 word research essay on topic agreed with course lecturer to be submitted in January (75%)

Course Aims

The aim of the course is to offer a challenging forum in which fundamental aspects of human rights can be investigated and analysed critically. In particular, the course aims to:


■ Explore in-depth some of the core theoretical underpinnings of human rights;

■ Develop powers of critical analysis and the adoption of a more critical and reflective approach to conceptual and practical questions relating to human rights;

■ Provide experience of working in groups and foster group discussion;

■ Encourage independent reading skills

■ Develop research skills

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Have a critical understanding of fundamental concepts of human rights;

■ Be able to identify and critically assess the implications of those concepts in the substantive exposition of human rights;

■ Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of particular contemporary substantive international human rights instruments and their application in different political contexts;

■ Apply the knowledge obtained to a range of practical problems;

■ Engage in reflective learning.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Completions of formative and summative assessment components