Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Law


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Introduction to English Law and Legal Method (LAW 1121) and EU Constitutional Law (LAW 1061) and The Individual and The State (LAW 1081) and UK Constitutional Law (LAW 1091) OR a suitable module from another Department.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide an introduction to the achievements and prospects for protecting human rights in international law;
  • To provide an understanding of the sources of the international law of human rights and the legal nature of its rules;
  • To provide an appreciation of the different roles of States and of universal international organisaitions within the international human rights law project;
  • To provide an introduction to international and regional human rights mechanisms;
  • To examine the obligations imposed by different 'caregories' of rights;
  • To consider the application of human rights to specific, current issues;
  • To explore overlaps between international human rights law and othe branches of international law.


  • Topics covered will generally include:
  • The nature, sources, and enforcement mechanisms of international human rights law;
  • The obligations imposed by different 'categories' of rights that have emerged (eg civil and political; economic and social; and individual and group rights);
  • Discussion of a number of substantive rights (eg the right to freedom from torture, the right to food);
  • The application of human rights in relation to specific issues, such as the protection of children and the challenges to human rights posed by non-state actors;
  • The overlap between international human rights law and other branches of international law.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the legal basis and the elementary content of the substantive and procedural international law of human rights.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Apply academically acquired knowledge of international human rights law to practical legal situations;
  • Write both descriptively and critically about the institutions for the protection of human rights by international law;
  • Show an appreciation of the impact of political factors on the realisation of the international human rights project;
  • Demonstrate a sound international legal technique as applied to situations which may be approached from other perspectives, such as the moral or the political
  • Discuss in an informed manner the achievements of the international human rights law project and the obstacles in the way of further progress
  • Conduct elementary, independent research as appropriate to an undergraduate module including the location of reported cases, treaties, academic commentary and other related material (in both print and electronic form).
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate developed research and writing skills, including the ability to work independently and to take responsibility for their own learning;
  • Critically evaluate legal rules, policies and principles;
  • Engage in critical reading of legal and academic texts;
  • Present complex ideas in writing;
  • Make critical judgements on the merits of a range of arguments.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The modes of teaching, learning and assessment have been chosen in order to facilitate the achievement of the learning outcomes of the module.
  • Lectures will concentrate on developing knowledge of the subject area.
  • Tutorials will be used to develop critical and analytical skills and deepen understanding of the subject area.
  • Students will write a formative essay on which there will be specific advice and a general statement of what was expected.
  • The examination will be an unseen examination. Students will be allowed to take a published collection of primary materials into the examination and may be provided with further documentary matter.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Tutorials 4 Normally two in each of Michaelmas and Epiphany 1 hour 4
Preparation and Reading 176
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One essay of 1500 words.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University