Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


Ideas shaping contemporary Human Rights have deep historical roots, drawing on religious and secular ethics, morality and social justice in various societies and cultures. This unit asks: how did Human Rights evolve? Are Human Rights the product of a peculiarly European heritage, or is its moral, cultural, and political basis far wider than this? In what ways are Human Rights different from individual rights, legal rights and civil rights? Did human rights serve as a 'civilizing' mask for colonialism, and what has been the relationship between decolonisation and the question of rights? We examine the impact of the American and French Revolutions on the advancement of ideas about human rights, and how other threads such as the law, the Cold War, Apartheid, and the 'War on Terror' have undermined them. We also examine the impacts of slavery, imperialism, war, and genocide, as well as responses to them, and global movements such as civil, indigenous, women's, and minority rights, and the rise of the modern human rights movement. On the completion of the unit students should have honed applicable skills such as: critical thinking and analysis; comprehension and application of knowledge; and research, written and communication skills.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 core unit in the Human Rights major sequence
  • Level 1 option in the History major sequence
  • Level 1 elective

Students are able 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 tutorials and identify them in the assigned readings.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) research essay; (2) reflective assignment; and (3) tutorial performance. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Ethan Blue
Contact hours
3hrs per week for up to 12 weeks
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.