The University of New South Wales

go to UNSW home page

Handbook Home

International Human Rights - LAWS8181
 UNSW Library

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Prerequisite: Academic Program must be either 9200, 9210, 9211, 9230, 9240, 9285, 5211, 5740, 5760, 5285
Excluded: JURD7781
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


This course involves a study of the fundamental legal principles and institutions of international human rights, through the medium of contemporary human rights concerns. The course begins with an examination of the human rights framework in international law and the mechanisms for enforcing human rights including consideration of the position of the United Nations in this era of reform. The course also focuses on gross human rights violations and the responsibility of the international community to protect, terrorism, globalisation, and discrimination law among other contemporary topics. The course will be taught by Justine Nolan and may benefit from the input of several guest speakers on discrete topics. This course is part of a general offering of human rights and social justice topics within the UNSW Law School and aims to provides students with an introductory approach to select human rights issues.

This course is also available to students undertaking relevant postgraduate non-law degree programs at UNSW, provided such enrolment is approved by the appropriate non-law Faculty.

LLM Specialisations

Recommended Prior Knowledge


Course Objectives

Aims of the course are:
  • To examine and analyse the main legal concepts and principles of international human rights law
  • To assess the effectiveness of avenues for enforcement of international human rights principles and law
  • To develop the skills necessary for communicating and debating the role human rights play in the development of law and society
At the end of this course, you should be able to:
  • Have a sound knowledge of the main legal concepts and principles of international human rights law
  • Explain in your own words the meaning of legal concepts, doctrines and principles we have studied
  • Analyse the primary sources of human rights law
  • Demonstrate an ethical understanding of the nature of human rights law and be aware of on-going and future issues in the area of human rights
  • Demonstrate your ability to think critically and to justify your ideas in a reasoned manner, rather than purely by way of dogmatic assertions or emotional responses communicate effectively in speaking and in writing

Main Topics

  • What are human rights?
  • Contemporary concerns: human rights issues, for example this may include genocide; discrimination; death penalty and/or the impact of globalisation
  • Framework of the human rights system
  • Human rights enforcement


Class participation 15%
(Performance and participation in class)

Short answer question 10%
(One 500 words max.)

Research essay 75%
(5,000 - 5,500 words )

Course Texts


Henry Steiner & Philip Alston & Ryan Goodman, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics and Morals, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 2008.


Refer to Course Outline provided by lecturer at the beginning of the relevant semester.

URL for this page:

© 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.