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Human Rights Clinic - JURD7409
 UNSW Library

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 12
EFTSL: 0.25000 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Prerequisites: LAWS1210 and LAWS2311; JURD7110 and JURD7211
Excluded: LAWS3309
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


The Human Rights Clinic is an experiential learning program in which students gain practical experience in multifaceted approaches to human rights lawyering in both domestic and international settings. Attending the clinic on campus two days each week, students will have significant responsibility as legal advisors, co-counsel, or advocacy partners with lawyers and human rights advocates in Australia and Asia, under the Clinic Director’s supervision. Through work on specific litigation, advocacy and law reform projects and a weekly seminar, the program aims to strengthen students’ practical skills in research, writing, advocacy, problem-solving, and independent judgment, while encouraging critical reflection on the role of law and lawyers in advancing human rights at home and in our region. Specific activities may include, for example, supporting local lawyers and organisations in Asia and Australia to bring or intervene in public interest litigation within national courts; drafting communications to UN human rights bodies; undertaking fact-finding and documentation of systemic rights violations; drafting white papers and parliamentary law reform submissions; or filing freedom of information requests. The seminar will develop students' lawyering skills in areas such as human rights report-writing; law reform submission-writing; advocacy and the media; international and comparative legal research; and ethics and accountability in human rights work.


Bassina Farbenblum
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law

Recommended Prior Knowledge

Coursework or experience in public international law, international human rights, refugee law, immigration law, public interest litigation, or similar subject highly desirable.

Course Objectives

To be able to identify and critically assess various legal and non-legal strategies that may be employed by human rights lawyers and advocates in different settings, and critically evaluate the role of law and lawyers in protecting and advancing human rights;

To apply research, writing and problem-solving skills in formulating policy and legal responses to current human rights problems;

To develop practical lawyering skills, including oral and written communication and drafting skills, while gaining experience in producing timely and professional written work-product that may be relied upon by other professionals;

To enhance skills required to engage professionally with a variety of stakeholders in domestic and international contexts, demonstrating appropriate cultural sensitivity and an understanding of ethical, political and professional accountability issues related to human rights work.


Clinic Performance - 70%

1. Skills and written work product, including conducting thorough legal and factual research which demonstrates depth of thought and analysis, as well as appropriate prioritisation of legal and/or factual issues for consideration and research; investing appropriate time and intellectual rigour to ensure that written work product is logically organised, concise and checked for errors; presenting all work product in a timely and professional manner; and applying creative problem-solving skills to substantive and organisational issues.

2. Professionalism and proactive engagement, including maintaining files appropriately; allocating and controlling time and effort efficiently; working collaboratively with fellow students and staff; dealing with project partners and clients in a considered and appropriate way; taking initiative in the resolution of problems or progression of projects; accepting responsibility and seeking guidance after analysis, research and consideration of a problem; considering critically the appropriateness of a legal remedy; acknowledging limitations in knowledge and ability; and ensuring that all conduct is consistent with professional ethical responsibilities.

3. Reflection and analysis, including ongoing critical reflection on the ethical, political, cultural and professional issues that arise in the context of human rights lawyering, particularly with migrant and refugee communities.

Seminar Participation - 30%

Students are expected to consistently attend and actively participate in the weekly 2 hour clinic seminars, and to read and critically reflect on assigned readings each week. Topics covered will include various practical and ethical issues related to human rights lawyering; international and comparative legal research; submission-writing; advocacy report-writing; ethics and accountability in human rights lawyering; advocacy and the media; and various issues arising out of current clinic casework and projects. Students will be assessed on the basis of

  • Active participation in class discussion based on assigned readings
  • Presentation of current cases and projects, including identifying issues raising ethical, strategic and substantive questions for discussion with fellow students, and engaging in discussion on issues raised by other students
  • Performance of set exercises and tasks in class

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.