module specification

GI6067 - Human Rights and International Conflict (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Human Rights and International Conflict
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Seminar 20%   Seminar Assessment
Coursework 80%   Essay (2500 words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module will provide a historical and critical introduction to ideas and institutions of human rights and will evaluate their relationship with state sovereignty and international conflict.

Module aims

To provide a historical and critical introduction to ideas and institutions of human rights, and to evaluate their relation to state sovereignty and international conflict.
To provide an understanding of the relation of theory to practice, facts to values and politics to ethics, and of ideas of universality and relativism.
To relate philosophical theories and propositions to practices and issues of political, social, economic, legal and international justice.
To elaborate arguments that are at once logical, evidenced and reflectively ethical.


Natural Rights and States
Natural Law and Moral Universalism
Civil Rights Institutionalized
Critiques of Rights
Ideological and International Conflict
Declaratory Universalism
Utopia and Reality
From Fascism to Human Rights
Human Rights as Political Practice
A Responsibility to Protect?
Universalism, Globalization and Contemporary Conflict
The Future of Human Rights and International Conflict

Learning and teaching

This module is taught through lectures and seminars. Students are expected to prepare thoroughly for the seminars both in terms of completing the assessment (giving presentations) but also in terms of evaluating the presentations in a formative way and participating in the seminar discussions. Indeed, the reflective aspects of the module require students to consider the political and ethical ideas of the module not only in abstract theoretical terms, but also in terms of ethical practice and transformation. Blended learning will be achieved through the use of the University’s web-based learning facilities and ITC in the classroom.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should have developed:

  1. an appreciation of the history of rights and of the relation of that history to past and present political and international conflicts;
  2. a critical understanding of the ethical, political and international potential and difficulties of human rights;
  3. the ability to scrutinize moral theories and political facts in the light of each other, to ethically evaluate social practices and national and international institutions ethically, and to elaborate, justify, advance, defend and revise a logically structured argument supported by relevant textual and empirical evidence.

Assessment strategy

Seminar presentation (20%), scheduled weekly from week 2 onward, followed by 3,000 word summative essay (80%) which can be, but need not be, answering the same question as the presentation.


Boucher, D.(2011) "The Recognition Theory of Rights, Customary International Law and Human Rights", Political Studies 59(3), 753-771.
Breau, S. (2016) The Responsibility to Protect in International Law: An Emerging Paradigm Shift, Routledge.
Hamid, S. (2016) Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World, St. Martin’s Press.
Hoffmann, S.-L. (2016) "Human Rights and History", Past and Present 232, 279-310.
Kant, I. (1996) "Toward Perpetual Peace", in Immanuel Kant, Political Philosophy (ed. & trans. M. Gregor), Cambridge University Press.
MacIntyre, A. (2007) After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Duckworth (3rd ed.).
MacIntyre, A. (2016) Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity, Cambridge University Press. 
Maritain, J.(2012) Christianity and Democracy, and The Rights of Man and Natural Law, Ignatius Press.
Moyn, S. (2010) The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, Harvard University Press.
Moyn, S. (2015) Christian Human Rights, University of Pennsylvania Press.
Rawls, J. (1999) The Law of Peoples, Harvard University Press.