• Offered by School of Politics and International Relations
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Political Science
  • Areas of interest Development Studies, Gender Studies, International Relations, Political Sciences, Human Rights
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Jana Von Stein
    • Zoe Robinson
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

This course introduces students to the theoretical frameworks, empirical cases, policy instruments, and debates in the field of human rights. The course is structured in four parts. First, we will examine the evolution of human rights in its philosophical, historical, and political contexts. We will address key questions such as: What are human rights? Are they universally applicable? How and why have international human rights standards come into being? How do they change over time? Second, we will examine various mechanisms and actors for the promotion and protection of human rights at the global, regional, and national levels. What are the United Nations and regional mechanisms for human rights protection? What explains the evolution of the UN human rights activities? How are international human rights enforced? What is the role of nongovernmental organisations and activists in the field of human rights? What are their dilemmas? Third, we will examine the trajectory and effectiveness of humanitarian intervention. Under what conditions is humanitarian intervention justified and necessary? How has its international legitimacy changed over time? What explains the achievements and limitations of humanitarian intervention in the post-Cold War period? Fourth, we will examine various forms of transitional justice. How should new democracies cope with past human rights abuses?  What explains variations in the forms and impacts of transitional justice across time and space? In addressing these and other questions, we will explore several country cases around the globe.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. understand the key events and policy debates in the development of the international human rights regime;
  2. apply international relations theories and concepts to cases studies and issues of human rights;
  3. understand how the international human rights regime works in world politics; and
  4. think, write, and argue critically and logically about human rights issues from a political science perspective.

Indicative Assessment

Midterm examination 1 hour (in lecture period via Wattle) (25%): learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4
Research essay, 3000 words (35%): learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4
Final examination 2 hours (in formal examination period) (40%): learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 48 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures, 12 hours of tutorials, and 12 hours of film screenings; and
b) 82 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed12 units of 1000 level POLS courses; or permission of the convenor

Prescribed Texts

Emilie M. Hafner-Burton, Making Human Rights a Reality.

Assumed Knowledge

Familiarity with basic concepts and theories in requisite 1000-level POLS courses




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $3420
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $4860
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8610 23 Jul 2018 30 Jul 2018 31 Aug 2018 26 Oct 2018 In Person N/A

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