LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.

Credit value: 30 credits (12 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Dr Kimberley Trapp
Other Teachers:


This module provides a general survey of the sources/philosophy/theory of human rights law and the procedural and institutional infrastructure of human rights protection; as well as a focused examination of human rights in a particular context. Part I, or the ‘general’ part, covers the historical evolution of human rights law, its sources, the various systems for the protection of human rights (universal and regional), and explores the philosophy of human rights as well as certain theoretical issues (like cultural relativism). The ‘focused’ part, Part II (in Term 2), explores the relationship between human rights and national security. It discusses very topical issues like the extraterritorial application of human rights obligations, the conflict (if any) between human rights obligations and the obligation to implement Security Council ‘counter-terrorist’ sanctions, the relationship between international human rights law and international humanitarian law (the law that applies to armed conflicts), and substantive rights like the right to life, the right to a fair trial and the prohibition of torture.


Part I – HR in Theory and Practice

  • The Traditional Protection of the Individual under International Law
  • Sources of International Human Rights Law
  • The UN System of Human Rights Protection: Charter and Treaty based
  • Regional Systems of HR Protection I: The European System
  • Regional Systems of HR Protection II: The American and African Systems
  • Philosophy of Human Rights Law
  • Issues of Theory: Cultural Relativism

Part II – Human Rights and National Security

  • Introduction: HR and National Security
  • The Scope of HR Protection: Extra-territoriality
  • Conflict with other norms of international law (International Humanitarian Law)
  • Conflict with other norms of international law II (Article 103 UN Charter and Security Council counter-terrorism resolutions)
  • The Right to Life
  • Prohibition of Torture and (other) Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment
  • Non-refoulement / Protection against Wrongful Transfers
  • Right to Liberty, Security and Fair Trial

Background Reading (optional):

Students who have not taken any general module in Public International Law before are strongly advised to read a general textbook in advance of commencing the course. A concise and elegant textbook is Vaughan Lowe, International Law (Oxford UP 2007).

Other students may wish to a look at relevant entries in the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Oxford UP, available online [subscription or institutional access required] at www.mpepil.com).

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment in September.

Delivery and enrolment
Lectures/Seminars: 20 x 2-hour seminars
Tutorials: Yes (4 over the course of the year with a maximum of ten students enrolled in each)
Previous module enrolments: Medium – 16-50 students
Who may enrol: LLM students, other UCL Masters students
Prerequisities: None
Barred module combinations: None
Core Module for LLM specialism: International Law, Human Rights Law
Final Assessment: 3-hour unseen written examination
Practice Assessment: Students may write up past exam questions and submit them as formative assessment or exam practice.

This page was last updated on 8 July, 2014


The application process for the 2015-16 academic session is now open.

Please note, for the 2015-16 intake, we are not accepting the TOEFL test. If you have an English condition to meet, you must take one of the alternative tests listed here instead.