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Introduction to Human Rights

  • Module code: PO4002
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 4
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

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 prioritises 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.

Aims

  • To introduce students to the central themes in the history and evolution of human rights;
  • To provide students with knowledge of the institutions and mechanisms involved in the protection and promotion of human rights norms at the international, regional and local levels;
  • To acquire an understanding of the political, social, economic and cultural contexts within which human rights organisations operate, including their historical development and the needs they meet;
  • To assess the effectiveness of human rights organisations to: provide redress to individual victims; hold violators to account; improve their human rights performance;
  • To develop practical skills relevant to the study and practice of human rights.

Learning outcomes

  • Identify the central themes in the history and evolution of human rights;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the institutions and mechanisms involved in the protection and promotion of human rights;
  • Analyse the political, social, economic and cultural contexts in which human rights organisations operate and the particular challenges they face in the 21st Century;
  • Assess the effectiveness of human rights organisations to protect, promote and defend human rights;
  • Evaluate the work of one human rights organisation
  • Use the practical skills acquired in this module to complete the assessments

Curriculum content

Introduction:

  • where did the concept of human rights come from?
  • What on earth are ‘human rights’ and (why) should we care? (Theories of Rights: part 1)
  • What on earth are ‘human rights’ and (why) should we care? (Theories of Rights: part 2)        
  • Systems for Human Rights Protection (international, regional and national)(part 1)
  • Systems for Human Rights Protection (international, regional and national)(part 2)
  • Genocide
  • Apartheid
  • Political Prisoners
  • Refugees
  • Slavery
  • Torture
  • Right to die
  • Economic rights
  • Social and cultural rights
  • Rights to water
  • Privacy

Strategies for achieving human rights

  • Who are these human rights actors?
  • History of human rights organisations, political and social contexts
  • International, regional and local: diversifying actors, activities and activism
  • A powerful view from within (guest speaker)
    • Campaigning for new rights (I): LGBTIQ rights
    • Campaigning for new standards and mechanisms: ICBL, and Conflict Diamonds
    • Campaigning for accountability: Pinochet, ICC, Charles Taylor
    • Campaigning for radical social change: indigenous peoples and the Occupy Movement
    • Campaigning for due process: Rendition and Guantanamo
    • Campaigning for accountability: war crimes in Sri Lanka
    • Challenges to defending, protecting and promoting human rights
    • Student campaign pitches (group assessment)

Teaching and learning strategy

The module employs a ‘blended learning’ approach and encourages strong student participation in group work, which builds towards their final assessment. Taught as a weekly multi-formatted three-hour block, the approach incorporates a mix of participatory/interactive lectures, seminars, workshops, breakout sessions, debates, simulations and group research exercises appropriate to the content and focus of the module.  All sessions are designed to be interactive, engaging and inspiring.  Problem-based learning will be encouraged through case studies exploring the roles, functions, and activities of key human rights actors and institutions at the international, regional and domestic levels. This will prompt questions and generate lively and timely discussions and debate. This module prioritises key 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.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching workshops/breakout sessions/simulations 66
Guided independent study Reading, seminar preparation and revision Case study preparation (group work) 234
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Formative Assessment:

At intervals throughout the module, there will be formative activities for students to practice the appropriate study and critical thinking skills, as well as, occasions to give and receive feedback on their work. Formative assessment is non-assessed (no formal marks); the emphasis is on feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Study Groups will work together in class and on StudySpace to compile reading notes, a critical bibliography and an essay outline. Students will be given feedback on this work to feed forward into their final assessment. The aim of this formative assessment is to help students work with each other as part of their final assessment relies on group work. The study groups also develop key study skills to help students complete this and other modules.

Summative Assessment:

The summative assessment for this module is a portfolio (3000 words), designed to simulate a campaign proposal that an human rights organisation would produce as part of their work. In groups, students will choose a current human rights issue and design a campaign for a particular human rights organisation. Students will be required to assess the relevance of the issue to the organisation as well as the type of work the organisation undertakes. The Campaign Proposal contains 4 elements of assessment, 2 of which are peer assessed group marks and 2 of which are individually assessed.

The Background  (1000 words) is a written explanation of the historical evolution of the particular human right the group is campaigning to protect. This will integrate the conceptual material from the lectures into the practical context of the campaign design. This element of assessment will be individually assessed by the teaching staff (40% of portfolio ).

The Campaign Design catalogues the group work through the various steps of designing a campaign and assess the output of each group member. It is designed to encourage team building and simulate working for an human rights organisation. The team will work in a methodical, office like manner, taking minutes of each meeting. The Team will assess each other’s contribution to the project through this mechanism (5% of portfolio). 

The Campaign Pitch (Group Presentation). Groups will be given 10 mins to pitch their campaigns to their peers. They are encouraged to use audio-visual materials. The criteria will be the persuasiveness of their campaign and will be peer-assessed (5% of portfolio).

Individual Reflection (1500 words) is a critical examination of the organisations role, strategy and place within the wider human rights movement. This element of assessment will be individually assessed (50% of portfolio).

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1) Identify the central themes in the history and evolution of human rights; Portfolio (Background)
Demonstrate knowledge of the institutions and mechanisms involved in the protection and promotion of human rights; Portfolio (Background)
Analyse the political, social, economic and cultural contexts in which human rights organisations operate and the particular challenges they face in the 21st Century; Portfolio (Individual Reflection)
Assess the effectiveness of human rights organisations to protect, promote and defend human rights; Portfolio (Individual Reflection)
Evaluate the work of one human rights organisation; Portfolio (Campaign Design)
Use the practical skills acquired in this module to complete the assessments. Portfolio (Campaign Design and Campaign Pitch)

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Coursework Portfolio 100
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS a requirement that the major category of assessment is passed in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

O’Byrne, Darren (2003) Human Rights: An Introduction. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

 

 

Bibliography recommended reading

  • Freeman, Michael (2011) Human Rights: An interdisciplinary Approach, Cambridge: Polity
  • Becker, Jo (2013) Campaigning for Justice: human Rights Advocacy in Practice, California: Standford University Press.
  • Gready, Paul (2004) Fighting for Human Rights. London: Routledge.
  • Kingram, Tess (2005) The Good Campaigns Guide: Campaigning for Impact. NCVO

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