• Class Number 3256
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Carolyn Strange
    • Prof Carolyn Strange
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
    • Rhianne Grieve
SELT Survey Results

Human rights, in ideal terms, are universal. Yet the notion is a product of history. This course traces the cultural, political, religious and philosophical forces that inspired revolutionary thinkers to question old world inequalities and injustice. However, the earliest efforts to establish human rights applied only to privileged minorities and dominant nations.

How did the concept of universal human rights arise? What role has individual and collective voices of protest played in this development? What sorts of actions have been taken to protest rights violations? On what basis has the denial of rights to particular groups been justified? 

The answers to these questions have differed internationally and over time. This course will focus on slavery and forced labour; colonisation; gender disparities and sexual minorities; environmental disasters and degradation; religious oppression; genocide; asylum seeking; the right to die; prisoners’ rights; and political persecution.   

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. identify the key moments and international instruments in the establishment of the contemporary human rights regime;
  2. critically analyse the key issues and debates around the emergence of ideas concerning 'rights' and the specific development of the contested concept of 'human rights';
  3. interpret historical representations of human rights;
  4. undertake original research to apply key course concepts; and
  5. critically analyse the concepts raised in lectures and identify them in the assigned readings.

The literature relating to the history of human rights is extensive and constantly expanding. This list of sources is NOT exhaustive. However, it will provide you with essential background reading for your research essay and help you to prepare for your final exam.

Belmessous, Saliha (ed.), Native Claims: Indigenous Law against Empire, 1500-1920, Oxford, 2012.

Allida Black, ‘Are Women 'Human'? The U.N. and the Struggle to Recognize Women's Rights as Human Rights’, in Akira Iriye (ed.), The Human Rights Revolution: An International History, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 133-58.

Burke, Roland, ‘Human Rights and the Birth of the Third World: The Bandung Conference’, in Decolonization and the Evolution of International Human pp.117-49.

Cabanes, Bruno, The Great War and the Origins of Humanitarianism, Cambridge, 2014.

Cardenas, Sonia, Chains of Justice: The Global Rise of State Institutions for Human Rights, Pennsylvania University Press, 2014

Chappell, Louise, John Chesterman and Lisa Hill, ‘The Rights of Indigenous Australians,’ in The Politics of Human Rights in Australia, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp.117-49.

Cook, Rebecca (ed.), Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspectives, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994

Eckel, Jan, and Samuel Moyn, The Breakthrough: Human Rights in the 1970s, Pennsylvania University Press, 2013

Evans, Julie, Patricia Grimshaw, David Philips, and Shurlee Swain, Equal Subjects, Unequal Rights: Indigenous Peoples in British Settler Colonies, 1830-1910, Manchester, 2003.

Ferrone, Vincenzo, ‘The Rights of History: Enlightenment and Human Rights’, Human Rights Quarterly, 39 1(February 2017): 130-41.

Falk, Richard, Human Rights Horizons: the pursuit of justice in a globalizing world, Routledge, 2000

Tom Farer, ‘The United Nations and Human Rights: More than a Whimper Less than a Roar’, Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Nov., 1987), pp. 550-86

Freeman, Michael, Human Rights: an Interdisciplinary Approach, 2nd edition, Cambridge: Polity, 2011

Glendon, Mary Ann, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Random House, 2002

Goldhaber, Michael, A People's History of the European Court of Human Rights, Rutgers University Press, 2009

Hayden, Patrick, The Philosophy of Human Rights, Paragon House Publishers, 2001

Helen Fein, Human Rights and Wrongs: Slavery, Terror, Genocide, Paradigm Publishers, 2007

Hipold, ‘The League of Nations and the Protection of Minorities - rediscovering a great experiment’, in Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law Online, Volume 17, Issue 1 (2013), pp. 87-124

Hopgood, Stephen, The Endtimes of Human Rights, Cornell University Press, 2013

Hunt, Lynn, Inventing Human Rights: A History, W. W. Norton & Company, 2008

Hunt, Lynn, The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History, Bedford, 1996

Ignatieff, Michael, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, Princeton University Press, 2001

Iriye, Akira, William Hitchcock, and Petra Goedde (eds), The Human Rights Revolution: An International History, Oxford University Press, 2012

Ishay, Micheline (ed), The Human Rights Reader: Major Political Essays, Speeches and Documents From Ancient Times to the Present, Routledge, 2007

Ishay, Micheline, The History of Human Rights: From Ancient Times to the Globalization, University of California Press, 2008

Jelin, Elizabeth, ‘The Politics of Memory: The Human Rights Movements and the Construction of Democracy in Argentina’, Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 21, No. 2 (1994), pp. 38-58

Lauren, Paul Gordon, The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011

Lenzerini, Frederico (ed.), Reparations for Indigenous Peoples: International and Comparative Perspectives, Oxford, 2008

Martin, Michael T. and Marilyn Yaquinto (eds.), On Reparations for Slavery, Jim Crow, and their Legacies, Duke University Press, 2007

Martinez, Jenny S., The Slave Trade and the Origins of the International Human Rights Movement, Oxford University Press, 2012

Morsink, Johannes, The Universal Declaration: Origins, Drafting, and Intent, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999

Samuel Moyn, “Imperialism, Self-Determination, and the Rise of Human Rights,” in Akira Iriye et al., eds., The Human Rights Revolution: An International History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 159-78

Moyn, Samuel, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, Belknap Press, 2012

Neier, Aryeh, The International Human Rights Movement: A History, Princeton University Press, 2012

Normand, Roger, and Sarah Zaidi, Human Rights at the UN: The Political History of Universal Justice, Indiana University Press, 2008

Pagden, 'Human Rights, Natural Rights, and Europe’s Imperial Legacy’, Political Theory, 31, 2(April 2003), pp. 171-99

Posner, Eric A., and Adrian Vermeule, ‘Reparations for Slavery and Other Historical Injustices’, Columbia Law Review, 103, no. 3 (2003), pp. 689-748

Quirk, Joel, ‘The Anti-Slavery Project: Linking the Historical and Contemporary’, Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 3 (2006), pp. 565-98

Roberts, Christopher, The Contentious History of the International Bill of Human Rights, Cambridge University Press, 2014

Snyder, Sarah, Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network, Cambridge University Press, 2013

Soohoo, Cynthia, and Catherine Albisa, Bringing Human Rights Home: A History of Human Rights in the United States, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009

Symonides, Janusz, (ed.), Human Rights: Concept and Standards, Ashgate Publishing, 2000

Torpey, John, Politics and the Past: on Repairing Historical Injustices, Rowman and Littlefield, 2003

Wasserstrom, Jeffrey, Greg Grandin, Lynn Hunt, and Marilyn Young (eds), Human Rights and Revolutions, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007

Wiessner, Siegfried, ‘The Cultural Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Achievements and Continuing Challenges’, European Journal of International Law, Vol. 22, Issue 1 (2011), pp.121-40

Winbush, Raymond, Should America pay? Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations, Harper Collins, 2003.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • with the return of assignments.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Assessment Requirements and Evaluation

1. Keep a copy of all written work that you submit.

2. Keep a copy of submitted and marked assignments. You may need to make this material available at the end of the course.

3. Include full, consistent and coherent footnotes and bibliographies. Follow the School of History’s Guide to the Writing, Presentation and Referencing of Essays: (posted on the course website).

4. Use proper spelling and grammar. Errors and sloppiness will be taken into account in grading.

5. Declare the actual word length of your essays on your essay cover sheet.

6. Adhere to the posted word length. A 10% buffer on word limits is allowed on all written work; however, essays that exceed the prescribed word length will be penalized by a 10%.

7. Submit electronic WORD documents (not pdfs) via the Turnitin portal on the course website by the deadline time posted for the assignment. Requests for extensions must be made through the “assessment extension request’ portal on the course website. Do NOT write to your convenor or tutor to request extensions. Extensions should be sought BEFORE the essay due date. Extension requests will be considered only on the basis of medical or other extraordinary circumstances.

8. Late essays will be penalized at the rate of 5 % per working day or part thereof. Written assessments will be accepted only up to 10 working days past the posted due date unless an extension has been approved.

9. Students must attempt all assessment items to pass the course. Continued non-attendance at tutorials or failure to submit written work will disqualify you from successfully completing the unit. Failure to attempt all assessment items will result in a grade of NCN.

10. Students must adhere to the University’s policy on academic integrity: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/learning-development/academic-integrity. Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic integrity and it can result in penalties ranging from failure of an assignment to failure of the course to expulsion.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Why think Historically about Human Rights?
2 Are Rights Natural? Enlightened Thinking; Revolutionary Action and Reaction
3 Are Rights Racial? Slavery and Abolitionism You may submit your critical reflection starting this week
4 Are Rights worth Working For? Socialism and the Critique of Industrial Capitalism
5 Are Women Human? Rights and Ridicule
6 Are Colonized Peoples Rights-bearing Subjects? Petitions and Protest Submit proposed essay topic verbally in tutorial
7 Are Kids in need of Saving or Rights? Child Welfare and Warfare Written essay proposals due
8 Are Human Rights Supranational? International Agitation in the inter-war Era Last week you may submit your critical reflection
9 Are Rights Universal? The UDHRC’s Rocky Foundation Research Essay Due 6 May 4 p.m. ?
10 Are Rights Enforceable? The Limits, Failures and Expansion of Human Rights in the post-WW II Era
11 Are Violations of Human Rights Reparable? Applying the Present to the Past
12 Are Rights Recent? Reappraising Human Rights’ Histories Take-home Exam released 31 May Exam Due Date: 7 June

Tutorial Registration

Via Wattle site

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
1. Critical Reading Reflection 15 % 03/05/2019 31/05/2019 1, 2, 3
2. Research Essay 35 % 06/05/2019 24/05/2019 1, 2, 3, 4
3. Tutorial Participation 10 % 30/05/2019 31/05/2019 1, 2, 3, 5
4. Take-Home Examination 40 % 07/06/2019 30/06/2019 1, 2, 3, 4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Take-home exam at end of semester

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 03/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

1. Critical Reading Reflection

Between weeks 3 and 8 you must submit a critical reflection (of 300 WORDS) that analyses the readings assigned for your chosen week. You must submit your reflection through the Wattle site PRIOR to your regularly scheduled tutorial session for your chosen week. The final submission deadline is 8:59 a.m. 1 May 2018.

Your Critical Reading Reflection must:

  1. explain the connection you make between the two selected readings (one primary; one secondary)
  2. demonstrate your understanding of the argument in the secondary reading and the author’s interpretation of/approach toward the topic
  3. demonstrate your understanding of nature of the primary document, identifying its author and historical context
  4. reflect on what you have learned as a result of connecting the two readings
  5. properly reference the sources, following the History Essay Guide
  6. adhere to the word length (300 words)
  7. submit your reflection via turn-it-in on the Wattle site PRIOR to your tutorial session

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 06/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 24/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

2. Research Essay

Your research essay (of 2,200 WORDS exclusive of bibliography and notes) requires you to use one of the questions in the weekly lecture outline as a proposition to test in a particular period and place. DUE 4:00 pm 6 May 2019.


Choose one of the questions from the lecture titles (from weeks 2 to 11) and write a 'case study' research essay that explains how the question was asked and addressed in a particular period and place.


For example, ‘Are Colonized Peoples Rights-Bearing Subjects?’ is a question that would allow you to look at the Haitian Revolution of 1791 or the Lakota Indian occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973, a component of the American Indian Movement. ‘Are Women Human?’ is a question that would allow you to look at female leaders in the French Revolution; suffragists in the 1910s; or the lobbyists who instituted International Women’s Year in 1975.


You have the freedom to apply the lecture questions to a period and place of your choice. However, the most straightforward approach is to focus on the contexts covered in the readings and lectures. If you choose a different historical period or place you must confine yourself to the period on which the course focuses: the late 18th century to the 1970s. And the case study you choose must either be international (e.g. the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade; the post-World War Two refugee crisis) or country or colony covered by the course.


To fully answer the question, your ‘case study’ research essay must identify 1: the key person or organisations that agitated for rights; 2: the arguments they made to legitimate their claims; 3: the tactics they used to press for rights; 4: the resistance and obstacles they faced.


You must base your essay on primary and secondary sources, properly referenced and cited (refer to the History Essay Guide). The best place to start your research is the assigned readings and the supplementary readings. In week 6 you must provide a short (50-word) written summary of your proposed topic in your assigned tutorial.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 30/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 5

3. Tutorial Participation

You must actively participate in tutorials to earn your grade for this assessment.


To perform well you must demonstrate that you have completed the tutorial readings by responding to questions, sharing ideas, asking questions, and contributing respectfully to group discussions. If you feel uncomfortable speaking before your peers you may talk to your tutor about providing written evidence (aside from your critical reflection) that you have completed and thought carefully about the readings.


The College of Arts and Social Science policy stipulates that ‘marks and or grades cannot be given merely for attendance at course activities’. Consequently, the following grading scheme will be followed in each tutorial:

minimal participation: 1 mark

significant participation, indicating completion of readings: 2 marks

participation that thoughtfully and knowledgeably engages with the readings and enhances group learning: 3 marks.


The final mark (Tutorial Participation) is arrived at by multiplying the tutorial performance mark in each tutorial and dividing by the number of tutorials attended. Absences for medical reasons, if documented, will be taken into account.


Examples: A student who earns an overall contribution mark of 70, having attended all 11 scheduled tutorials will end up with a participation mark of 7 (70 x 11/11). A student with the same contribution mark, but who attends only 8 tutorials, will end up with a participation mark of 5.1 (70 x 8/11 = 50.9).

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 07/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 30/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

4. Take-Home Examination

The take-home exam (2,000 words max) is a summary assessment. It will cover the whole course (i.e. lectures, readings and tutorial topics). It will be posted on the course site at 9 a.m. Friday 31 May. The exam must be submitted through Turn-it-in on the course Wattle site by 4:00 pm Friday 7 June 2019.


Please note: Because this a formal exam, NO EXTENSIONS ARE ALLOWED. It must be completed within the set time limits. Also, your take-home exam MUST NOT EXCEED THE WORD LIMIT.

Unless you have an explicit extension, late submission of assessments will incur a penalty of 5 per cent per day (excluding weekends) of the possible marks available. No submissions will be accepted after 10 working days past the assessment’s original due date.


Submission of assignments that exceed the prescribed word length by more than 10% will result in a penalty of 10%.


You must also submit all written work required for the course by the last teaching day of Semester 1: Friday 31 May 2019. Term work submitted after that date will not be accepted.


For a full list of policies concerning assessments, see: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016L01973

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Carolyn Strange
6125 2613

Research Interests

The modern history of crime and justice; gender and sexuality

Prof Carolyn Strange

Prof Carolyn Strange

Research Interests

Prof Carolyn Strange

Rhianne Grieve

Research Interests

Rhianne Grieve

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions