• Class Number 3070
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Nick Cheesman
    • Dr Nick Cheesman
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

Despite the shift from authoritarian to democratic or semi-democratic forms of government in Asia, human rights abuses are rife. Although Asian states have ratified a large number of international human rights conventions, the violation of human rights and unequal application of and access to the law are common across the region. Citizens and migrants face arbitrary detention, torture, disappearance and death at the hands of state, para-state, and other actors.  In this course, we will study the types of human rights prevalent in Asia today and ask what institutional, political and social structures allow for their persistence. We will ask what types of abuses occur despite the efforts of governments to eliminate them and what types are encouraged through government inaction, or tacit or explicit encouragement or abuse. Yet simultaneous to our study of rights violations, we will also study new the new strategies of redress that have emerged, including the growth of human rights organisations and transitional justice processes and the development of linkages between international and local organisations. Topics and countries emphasised will vary from year to year, but will include East, South, and Southeast Asia.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the broad landscape of human rights across Asia.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the field of human rights studies and its relationship to advocacy.
3. Use different materials – including academic analysis, testimony and other accounts by survivors of human rights violations, legal and other state documents, advocacy and campaign materials – to examine and synthesise similarities and differences in human rights violation, protection, and consolidation across time and national boundaries.
4. Develop diverse writing skills and be able to compose the following: case summary, op-ed, proposal for further research or advocacy.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction: The making of human rights
2 PART I: RECKONING WITH THE PAST Impunity in Thailand
3 Genocide in Cambodia
4 Politicide in Indonesia
5 Sexual enslavement in Japan and Korea
6 Wartime rape in Bangladesh
7 Intermission: ghosts of the disappeared in Sri Lanka
8 PART II: RECONFIGURING THE PRESENT Dying for rights in North Korea
9 Rightful resistance in China
10 Loving rights in Myanmar
11 Truths about rights in India
12 Conclusion: Towards a consensus on human rights... in Asia?

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Critical review: paper and presentation 30 % 01/07/2021 1, 2, 3, 4
Essay plan and final essay 60 % 04/06/2021 1, 2, 3, 4
Seminar participation 10 % 01/07/2021 1, 2

* 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.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Critical review: paper and presentation

a. Paper = 800 words, 20% weighting, due on the date of the presentation; returned in the week after submission; late submission (without extension) accepted but penalties apply

b. Presentation = 10 minutes, 10% weighting, presentation date allocated in week 2

For this task, students are asked to select a recent piece of reportage on human rights conditions in Asia. This can be a report by an NGO, a state-based commission of inquiry or tribunal, an international inquiry, or a piece of investigative reportage. Reportage on the countries and issues discussed in our course is preferred but not essential. Students must get approval for their selected piece before they write their critical review. In the seminars in weeks two, three and four we will discuss what it means to do a critical review of a primary source, how to attend to questions of evidence, and to the categories used to organise and interpret facts about human rights in Asia. We will also discuss the choices that students have made and how they plan to complete the task. Students will give presentations on their reviews to their seminar group in weeks 5-11, and submit their written reviews on the date allocated for the presentation. 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 04/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Essay plan and final essay

a. Plan = 400 words not inclusive of a list of ten indicative sources, 10% weighting

Due date and time: Friday, April 2, 11.59pm; returned in week 7; late submission (without extension) accepted but penalties apply

b. Final essay = 2000 words not inclusive of a bibliography with approximately 20 sources, 50% weighting

Due date and time: Friday, June 4, 11.59pm; returned after the examination period once results are confirmed; late submission (without extension) accepted but penalties apply

This research essay will enable students to apply their skills and knowledge to a human rights topic of their choice. It need not be on one of the cases or issues discussed in the course, but it must be on human rights in Asia and also must engage substantively with one or more of the required readings for the course, whether thematically or comparatively. A set of questions from which students can select will be circulated before the semester break. However, students are also invited to formulate their own questions. Those who choose to do so must get them approved by the course convenor before proceeding to work on them. We will discuss and work together on both the plan and the final essay in seminars as indicated. 

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2

Seminar participation

The success of our course depends upon the active participation of students in the seminars. Students should expect to be called upon to undertake specific tasks in the seminars. Attendance at seminars will be noted and a weekly grade allocated for participation, taking into consideration the quality of contributions and respect for other students, will be calculated at the end of the semester. 

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

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.

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

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded. OR 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).
Dr Nick Cheesman

Research Interests

Dr Nick Cheesman

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Nick Cheesman

Research Interests

Dr Nick Cheesman

By Appointment
By Appointment

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