Search our site
Search our site

Human Rights BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time See course combinations for joint honours UCAS codes 2017
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2017

Why choose this course?

From the refugee crisis, to the Syrian atrocities, human rights are well documented in today's world.

Our Human Rights BA(Hons) will help you better understand modern human rights catastrophes, combining theory and practice. You will explore a wide range of topics from slavery and emancipation to modern political thought. You will also develop practical advocacy skills through planning human rights cases, campaigns and presentations.

Our academic team are active researchers and experts in their field, who regularly participate in international conferences and forums. In addition, our academics have worked in human rights organisations and developed strong links in the human rights community. Throughout your studies, visiting speakers such as members of parliament, campaigners and think-tank policy makers will offer you the opportunity to learn about the ‘real world' of politics.

The department hosts an annual Human Rights Festival, including talks, discussions and debates with academics, journalists, campaigners and policy makers. The event also provides an opportunity to make contacts for your future career.

This joint honours course can be combined with the following subjects:

  • Criminology
  • Sociology

Our graduates progress into careers in business, public and voluntary sectors, the media, international development and human rights advocacy.

Watch this video to find out what our students have to say:

What you will study

This course enables you to explore global human rights issues, and to examine how they can be enforced and defended. The curriculum is organised into three broad streams: the history of human rights, understanding human rights, and achieving human rights.

In Year 1, you will study conceptions of human rights across historical and modern contexts, such as the abolition of slavery, the position of women, and the War on Terror. You will assess the practice of human rights organisations, and begin to evaluate tactics for the achievement of human rights.

In Year 2, your choice of topics is flexible. You will consider the concepts of freedom, development and equality, and analyse human rights enforcement. You will apply your knowledge to a range of social, political and economic contexts, such as the Holocaust, Africa, the Middle East or Latin America. You will also have the option to study abroad in Europe, North America or Australia.

Year 3 engages with economic, social and cultural rights, considering armed conflict and other political events. You will undertake an advanced research project on a topic of interest and receive training in research skills. The project culminates with a presentation at our annual student conference.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1 (Level 4)

  • This module provides an introduction to some of the major strands in radical political thought, in both their historical and contemporary contexts. We will be looking at some of those ideas and ideologies which have emerged throughout recent history, and which have sought to bring about widespread political, social and economic reform. We will be examining the ideas themselves, and the ways in which they were seeking a fundamental change in the existing system. We will also be placing the ideas in the particular political and social contexts of their time, and will study some of the people and movements who have been key in developing these radical arguments. However, we will also focus on the contemporary relevance of radical thought, and consider whether these ideas have purchase in today's world. As such, this module is well-suited to both Politics and History students, and forms a core module for all those taking Politics, International Relations and Human Rights.

    This module is also aimed at preparing new students for their time at university, and will provide advice and training regarding academic skills and personal development.

    Read full module description

     
  • This module is core for students doing Politics or International Relations full fields and Human Rights as a half-field (either internal or external). It can be taken as an option by some students in related fields who are interested in learning about human rights. The module outlines the central themes in the history and evolution of human rights and introduces students to theoretical debates within the field. Through case studies of particular forms of human rights violations, it evaluates the political and legal structures in place to address these violations and assesses the degrees of success human rights actors have with enforcement. Over the spectrum of international, regional and local institutions and mechanisms, this module explores a range of organisations working within the field of human rights and looks at how they operate. This module embeds employability skills relevant to the field of human rights by providing students with the opportunity to apply their conceptual knowledge to practical situations designed to simulate working for human rights organisations. As an introduction to the subject, this module looks at the relationship between theory and practice within the field of human rights, and uncovers the challenges faced in defending, protecting and promoting human rights in the 21st Century.

    Read full module description

     

Year 2 (Level 5)

  • This is a core module for History single-honour students at L5 but it may also be of interest to students in a variety of other subjects. This module introduces students to world history in the twentieth century. It is taught through lectures and seminars, and there is a strong element of student participation through seminar presentations. We examine wars and their  consequences from a variety of geographical perspectives: Africa, China, Japan, India, Russia, the US and the Middle East, with special focus on the First World War. No other event so significantly altered political boundaries around the world, or stimulated such nationalist sentiment. We will also look at several themes that underscore the war's worldwide impact: the radicalisation of warfare; the use of propaganda; advances in medical care and psychiatry; the mobilisation of women; economic change; the emergence of new artistic movements; the stimulus given to revolution and movements for independence; and efforts to establish global governance. The module therefore provides a world history emphasising political developments but shedding light on social and economic issues as well.

    Read full module description

     
  • Contemporary international politics involves a plethora of global actors, institutions and processes that provide governance at an international level.  They help to regulate the behaviour of states, maintain stability in global politics and encourage cooperation between.  Moreover, in an increasingly inter-connected world, global governance mechanisms provide the starting point for a fuller sense of international community – a platform for the peaceful resolution of disputes and an environment in which human rights and international development goals might be realised. 

    At the same time, contemporary global governance mechanisms are also affected by important limitations, with states demonstrating the frequent tendency to pursue their own narrow national interests, rather than working towards a global common good.  Students taking this module examine these themes by exploring different theory perspectives and by learning about the characteristics of the existing global governance structures. 

    The module begins by introducing students to some of the key tools for understanding and analysing international politics. International relations theory has played valuable role in helping us to understand the nuances and underlying processes that influence state behaviour and the development of foreign policy.  It follows on by introducing students to the study of the organisation and processes of international relations in a wider sense, examining the ways in which international development policy is formulated and the systems of global governance are organised.

    Read full module description

     
  • Through TV, newspapers, and other forms of media we are continually told that we live in a fast-moving globalised world. Yet whilst ‘globalisation' is now a common term, what it entails and how it affects our lives is often more difficult to discern.

    Focusing on the social, cultural, political and economic aspects of globalisation, this module exposes the different dimensions and implications of global social change. Opening with a critical examination of the meaning and competing definitions of globalisation, it moves on to examine: processes and theories of uneven global development, international inequality, the evolution and changing face of global capital, the significance of global environmental risk, the creation of global cultures and the transformation of local culture, migration and transculturalism, the rise of global cities and the urban experience, and the significance of global networks.

    Although not a pre-requisite, this module is also a good preparation for students wishing to study Migration and Social Transformation (SO6022) in level 6. The module will help to prepare students for a variety of professions in which knowledge and understanding of international and global social processes is relevant.

    Read full module description

     
  • This module begins with a survey of the main sweep of historical, political and economic developments, social actors and movements that gave shape to Latin American politics from its colonial beginnings to the early modern era.  The over-arching theme in the first teaching block is the contentious development of the nation-state and national economy in the global system, the legacy of which continues to shape the political landscape of the region.  In the second teaching block, students will engage with substantive themes in contemporary Latin American politics, and examine current flashpoints in regional politics through the eyes of a range of actors.  We explore and evaluate the range of new forms of participation that have emerged since the 1990s to contest the limitations of formal democracy under neoliberal globalization: from the barrio to factories, communities taking root on occupied land and urban spaces, constituent assemblies, popular assemblies and UN summits – or if all else fails, the streets.  We end by examining national and regional development strategies that emerged at the beginning of the 21st century as a response to the perceived failure of neoliberalism, and ask, is there a new politics emerging in the region?

    Read full module description

     
  • This module is a core module for Full-Field Politics & International Relations students and Half-Field Politics students. It can be taken as an option by Half-Field International Relations and Human Rights students.

    The module offers a critical introduction to the foundations of modern political thought. It is organised around an examination of the work of several major political philosophers and the concepts associated with their writings. Beginning with an exploration the origins of modern political theory in Machiavelli, it goes on to look at debates about of human nature, the state, and property within social contract theory, and the development of political thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by thinkers such as Mill, Marx, and Rawls. The module will examine a number of core political concepts, including freedom, justice, gender, equality, democracy, and tolerance, and address the central questions of moral and political philosophy: How should we act? How can we live together? Why should we obey the state? Throughout the module students will be encouraged both to challenge the arguments and assumptions of the thinkers that they study and to consider their contemporary relevance.

    Read full module description

     
  • This module is a core requirement for students taking Human Rights at level 5, and can also be taken as an option by students in related fields. The module introduces the contested and evolving relationships between the theory and practice of securing human rights.

    It starts with an overview of key frameworks and mechanisms designed to secure rights at the international, regional and domestic levels.  A central feature of the module is to introduce key critical themes, from which issues can be dissected and analysed through a range of contemporary and international case-studies.

    Themes may include:

    • Human Rights, Security and Forced Migration', which analyses the way in which the issue of forced migration brings together a variety of legal, political and security debates.
    • The Politics of Human Rights in Development', which examines the recent convergence of the fields of human rights and development (inclusive of ‘the right to development' and the proliferation of ‘rights-based approaches to development').
    • Rights in the aftermath? Truth, Justice and Reconciliation', which examines the globalization of transitional justice discourses and the propagation of different mechanisms (ranging from International Criminal Tribunals, to national truth commissions, to local justice initiatives).
    • And, ‘Indigenous Peoples, Rights and Beyond' that engages with central issues surrounding indigenous peoples' claims, whilst also probing the gravity of particular contested issues (such as ‘the right to self-determination' and broader ‘sovereignty' challenges).

    The module concludes by asking: what is the future for human rights? 

    Read full module description

     
  • This module will introduce students to the controversies and debates over slavery and other forms of violence committed against groups of people in the modern world and their responses seeking emancipation. Beginning in 1492 with the development of a modern racism, it looks at the destruction of indigenous peoples in the Americas, the subsequent development of US Slavery, and the struggles of African Americans into the twentieth century. These cases will be revisited from the perspective of gender, and compared to other forms of structural oppression of colonised peoples and workers.

    The module will consider the challenges in identifying the standpoint of the oppressed and study examples of how ‘subaltern' oppressed groups enter politics.   There are case studies of different historical and contemporary movements for emancipation, exploring some of their key debates and the challenges of constructing unity whilst respecting diversity. The module as a whole will encourage the critical analysis and assessment of the various interpretations that have been put forward and facilitate the development of students' research skills, ability to work together and communicate their ideas.

    Read full module description

     

Year 3 (Level 6)

  • This module is the 'capstone' module for all half-field Politics, International Relations or Human Rights students. Working in small groups, students will be provided with the skills and support necessary to embark upon, complete and present a final year research project. The initial focus of the module will be on small groups of students working to familiarise themselves with an area of staff research expertise, under close supervision of that subject matter expert. This will be made possible through the establishment of a range of staff-led, research-orientated 'reading groups', to which students will sign up. During the first half of the module, students will also receive training in project design and implementation, to complement and consolidate the research methods training received at Levels 4 and 5. The research skills and foundational subject knowledge acquired in the first part of the module will allow students to embark upon their own research project as the year progresses. Individual projects will reflect student interests and desired focus, but will remain embedded within one of the areas of Politics, International Relations and/or Human Rights offered by staff as an initial 'reading group'. The student-led research projects will be presented at the end of the year in an undergraduate academic conference: Themes and Issues in Politics, International Relations and Human Rights.

    Read full module description

     
  • This module is the 'capstone' module for full-field Politics and International Relations students. Working in small groups, students will be provided with the skills and support necessary to embark upon, complete and present a final year research project. The initial focus of the module will be on small groups of students working to familiarise themselves with an area of staff research expertise, under close supervision of that subject matter expert. This will be made possible through the establishment of a range of staff-led, research-orientated 'reading groups', to which students will sign up. During the first half of the module, students will also receive training in project design and implementation, to complement and consolidate the research methods training received at Levels 4 and 5. The research skills and foundational subject knowledge acquired in the first part of the module will allow students to embark upon their own research project as the year progresses. Individual projects will reflect student interests and desired focus, but will remain embedded within one of the areas of Politics, International Relations and/or Human Rights offered by staff as an initial 'reading group'. The student-led research projects will be presented at the end of the year in an undergraduate academic conference: Themes and Issues in Politics, International Relations and Human Rights.

    Read full module description

     
  • This research-led module explores the rise and impact of the Extreme Right in the 20th and early 21st centuries in Britain and in three other countries in Western Europe (namely France, Germany and Italy). It adopts a historical and comparative approach, and focuses on fascist, populist and authoritarian ideas, parties and movements in Britain and across Europe, and the challenges these posed for the liberal democratic state and its main institutions. The relationship between democracy and dictatorship proved to be a major source of controversy and change in the 20th century, and the question of how the liberal state 'managed' (or mis-managed and succumbed to) the threat from the Extreme Right has been a major theme in the historiography in recent years. In fact, such issues remain very prominent today. The first half of the course thus describes and analyses the historical developments, main patterns and key controversies engendered by these events and challenges in the interwar period. The second half of the course explores the extent to which these historical developments and the associated challenges were possibly replicated in the post-1945 period, especially with the more recent resurgence of the extreme Right across Britain and Europe in the early 21st century. 

    Read full module description

     
  • Of interest and value to students of history, politics, international relations and economics, this L6 option module examines offers a comparative historical perspective on twentieth British, American and world affairs. That century was of immense significance for both countries. At its outset Britain, with a worldwide empire, appeared to be the primary global power. At century's end (and with the demise of the Soviet Union), it had been supplanted by the United States. Now, in the twenty-first century, there is speculation as to whether and for how long American primacy may endure. The prospect of American 'decline' is currently a source of anxiety among American policymakers. Historians have identified many reasons for American ascendancy and British ‘decline' during the period 1900-2000. Were these two phenomena related, closely or otherwise? The answer to that question is by no means straightforward. Vitally important as were internal social and political changes, study of relations between the two countries – and of their relations to other states and nations – also provides us with insight into the scale and nature of historical change on a global scale. Focusing on key case studies in twentieth century British, American and international history the module provides stimulating study into issues of power and 'decline'.     

    Read full module description

     
  • Cold War, Hot War examines various events in the Middle East from past to present and will provide a comprehensive outlook on a troubled area.

    It begins by studying the historical foundations in the region and then explores the impact of the Cold War on the region through case studies such as the Eisenhower Doctrine; the Baghdad Pact, the Suez Crisis and the 1973 war. All this would be assessed against the wider framework of nationalism and regional politics from the early 1950s to the collapse of the USSR in 1990s. Using primary documents we will then assess the consequences of the end of the Cold War on the current crisis and the rise of religiopolitics. The theme of nationalism and leadership will be further explored during the second half of the module, focusing on a number of case studies (Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Israel) their ‘hot wars', foreign policy and current upheavals and challenges.

    Read full module description

     
  • This module takes a critical look at the concepts of crime, power and class in the contemporary world, and the impact of ‘crimes of the powerful' on the struggle for human rights and social justice.

    The gaze of many political scientists and criminologists tends to be focused firmly ‘downwards', towards analysing the misdemeanours of the poor, the dispossessed, the underclass

    This module, in contrast, will focus ‘upwards', in an attempt to understand and explain deviant actions by states, corporations, and the ruling class more broadly. Through the use of case studies, presented by the teaching team but also generated by students, we will examine issues such as war crimes, torture, corruption, global supply chains, police abuses, and state terrorism. 

    Read full module description

     
  • This module will be examining some deeply troubling events in recent history and politics and the various ethical, legal and political responses that they have generated. It has been argued that the Holocaust was a critical turning point, a catastrophe which required a fundamental ethical, legal and political rethinking of how the rights of human beings could be protected when states in the modern world engage in the systematic attempt to murder large numbers of people, including many of their own citizens. The module begins with reflections on the Nazi attempt to eliminate a whole group of people (the Jews) and to murder and enslave millions of others. It then considers a range of responses, including the Nuremberg trials, the Genocide Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It examines a number of cases of genocide and crimes against humanity that have nevertheless occurred subsequently. It evaluates the repeated failure for decades to halt or prevent these crimes and then considers the rethinking caused by the genocides in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the setting up of ad hoc tribunals and an International Criminal Court to prosecute perpetrators and provide justice to victims. It concludes with reflections on how much progress has been made in protecting citizens in a world of sovereign nation states and what forms of justice can work after such crimes have been committed. These are highly contested questions and the module is designed to encourage the critical analysis and evaluation of a wide range of arguments that have been put forward from a variety of perspectives.

    Read full module description

     
  • Conceptions of self and other are deeply embedded in violent conflict, an activity which typically results in the most egregious violations of human rights.  Highly polarised identities often sit uneasily with a universal humanity.  Based on the broad theme of the universal versus the particular, this module explores the interaction between identity, violent conflict and the abuse of human rights.  It provides students with the opportunity to consider how protracted conflicts may be better resolved more effectively and human rights better protected.  The module blends theoretical discussion of political violence with an analysis of recent conflicts and the legal and institutional mechanisms which have emerged to reduce their detrimental impact on human rights.

    Read full module description

     
  • Global migration has intensified rapidly since 1960, with the UNPD estimating an increase from 80 to 210 million by 2009. It has become a contentious political topic with far-reaching consequences for contemporary societies, and arguably for established sociological paradigms (e.g. methodological nationalism).

    The module will equip students to understand and investigate in depth the social dynamics of migration and its consequences, and enable them to offer informed and critical comment on contemporary debates (e.g. media coverage of migration, on the economics of migration, and on migration's consequences for social solidarity).

    It offers students the opportunity to build on interests and skills developed at Level 5 (e.g. in International Perspectives and Sociological Approaches), and broadens the department's offering at Level 6 to a new area of contemporary social relevance.

    Read full module description

     
  • This module explores the social intersections between gender, race and class. It begins by examining historical conceptualisations of these terms and intersections, and the social and civil movements that challenged how these terms were considered in both women's and men's lives.

    From the beginning, the module will introduce you to a wide range of feminist approaches in order to make sense of various intersections of gender, race and class. In this module you will consider how such categories and intersections contribute to identity constructions and contestations. You will reflect on these elements within contemporary examples of everyday life – for example, consumption, families and intimacies, education and sport. Upon completion of this module you will have expanded your skills in critical reflection and analysis of social intersections and inequalities.

    Read full module description

     

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Most of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

If you are considering studying abroad, read what our students say about their experiences.

Key information set

The scrolling banner(s) below display some key factual data about this course (including different course combinations or delivery modes of this course where relevant).

We aim to ensure that all courses and modules advertised are delivered. However in some cases courses and modules may not be offered. For more information about why, and when you can expect to be notified, read our Changes to Academic Provision.

A copy of the regulations governing this course is available here

Details of terms dates for this course can be found here

Contact us

Admissions team

Location

This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps

Contact us

Admissions team

Location

This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps
Favourite this course

Did you find what you are looking for?

This field is required.

>

Thank you for your feedback.

Find a course

Course finder

>

Find us on Facebook

Undergraduate study
Site menu