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The Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights

Course Code: PUBLG075

Course Tutor: Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia (Department of Political Science)

Assessment: One 3,000 word essays (100%)

Credit Value: 15

About this course

The module gives students a detailed understanding of the key issues at the foundations of human rights theory and how these issues have repercussions for problems in human rights practice. Students will study the normative foundations that have been offered for human rights in political theory and philosophy, different theories of rights as well as different theoretical criticisms of human rights. They will be introduced to the arguments for and against these theories and criticisms and will be encouraged to develop analyticial and critical evaluations of these theories.

The course seeks to give students an understanding of the point and purpose of human rights discourse. This in turn will help them develop a view about what can appropriately be called a human right and what cannot and why. By the end of the course, students will:

  • understand the key issues and main theories relating to normative human rights debates
  • understand, and be able to critically examine principles at the heart of human rights practices
  • interpret these theories, issues and practices through the employment of critical and analytical skills
  • present theories and arguments concisely and critically
  • assess views and new information by evaluating its intellectual and ethical merits
  • develop positive and normative interpretations of debates and problems of principle about human rights
  • apply human rights principles (and theories) to the interpretation and evaluation of human rights practice
  • understand why human rights theory is necessary to inform the empirical and legal study of human rights

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London, WC1H 9QU.
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Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 4969,

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Page last modified on 16 may 14 13:19

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