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.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- identify the key moments and international instruments in the establishment of the contemporary human rights regime;
- 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';
- interpret historical representations of human rights;
- undertake original research to apply key course concepts; and
- critically analyse the concepts raised in lectures and identify them in the assigned readings.
- Class Participation (10%) (10) [LO 1,2,3,5]
- Primary Document Exercise (1,000 words) (15%) (15) [LO 1,2,3]
- Case Study Research Essay (2,500 words) (35%) (35) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Take home Examination (2,000 words) (40%) (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorial and tutorial-like activities; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
- Lynn Hunt, “The Paradoxical Origins of Human Rights,” in Wasserstrom, Grandin, Hunt, & Young (eds), Human Rights and Revolutions, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007, pp. 3-15.
- John Locke, excerpt from “The Second Treatise of Government,” in Patrick Hayden (ed), The Philosophy of Human Rights: Readings in Context', Paragon House, 2001, pp. 71-79.
- Michael Zuckert, “Natural Rights in the American Revolution: The American Amalgam,” in Human Rights and Revolutions, pp. 65-82.
- David Zaret, “Tradition, Human Rights, and the English Revolution” in Human Rights and Revolutions, pp. 47-63.
Assumed KnowledgeThe course does not assume any prior knowledge of human rights.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.
- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.
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Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links
ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.
|Class number||Class start date||Last day to enrol||Census date||Class end date||Mode Of Delivery||Class Summary|
|2369||19 Feb 2024||26 Feb 2024||31 Mar 2024||24 May 2024||In Person||N/A|