UCL Summer School


International Politics of Human Rights

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session One
Module leader
Dr M. Rodwan Abouharb
None. Standard UCL Summer entry criteria apply.
Assessment method
Presentation (25%), Exam (75%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
International Politics of Human Rights

Module overview

The module will explore what human rights are and the different explanations of where rights come from. How human rights have changed and become imbedded in international law since World War II will be explored. An understanding of the political advantage governments seek through violating human rights will be sought and the economic and social consequences of repression, examined. Whether previous cycles of repression - like slavery, for example - make countries more likely to use violence today, will be considered. Real-world examples will be used to test and illustrate the arguments made in the literature - the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the former conflicts in Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are a few examples. By the end of the module, students will be able to critically assess and apply theories of repression to real-world cases and will have sufficient knowledge of the literature to begin carrying out their own research in this area.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Through the critical study of academic texts and real-world examples of government policy choices; have an understanding of why governments violate human rights
  • Have developed a conceptually and empirically informed understanding of the debates surrounding human rights repression, and a respect for and understanding of the substantive topical questions which have been asked concerning the repression of human rights
  • Have gained the ability to critically engage with the debates in the literature on human rights repression and respect
  • Have developed the skills associated with reading about, understanding, and discussing conceptual issues and theoretical debates; applying concepts and theories to the empirical study of human rights; writing essays and participating in group discussions
  • Have increased subject knowledge that allows progression to further specialised study of human rights and/or employment in a related field.

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required to study this module but students are expected to have a keen interest in the subject area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • 10-minute presentation (25%)
  • 2-hour examination (75%)

Module leader

Dr M. Rodwan Abouharb is a senior lecturer (Associate Professor) in International Relations, and Director of the International Public Policy Program in the Department of Political Science at UCL. He is an expert on international organisations, human rights and conflict. He studies the human rights and civil conflict consequences of World Bank and IMF programs, and how the WTO affects member state behaviour regarding intra-state conflict. For the period 2014-2017 he (alongside two others) was awarded a $425,000 grant from the U.S. Army Research Office to investigate "State Repression and its Effects on Civil Conflict, Socio-Economic Outcomes, and Leadership Tenure.”

Application information

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