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.

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Unit Overview


Activists appeal to human rights in arguing for the liberation of the oppressed. Governments appeal to human rights in justifying and criticising their own and others' policy decisions. Wars have been fought in the name of human rights, and a complex set of international institutions has evolved devoted to their protection and promotion. But what are human rights? And when, if ever, are we justified in invoking them?

This unit introduces students to the core ideas and central controversies in the study of human rights. Topics covered include the fundamental nature of human rights, debates over which particular human rights individuals ought to be afforded, scepticism as to the very existence of human rights, and real-world human rights controversies and challenges (e.g. war, poverty, immigration, climate change).

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 core unit in the Human Rights major sequence
  • Level 1 elective

Students are able to (1) locate issues of global and environmental justice in their historical cultural context; (2) independently interpret texts central to debates in human rights; (3) evaluate competing positions in the literature and political discourse; (4) demonstrate strong research skills and written & verbal communication skills, including the ability to construct persuasive arguments; and (5) explain influential views concerning major issues in the study of human rights.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) essay; and (3) exam. 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 Lachlan Umbers
Contact hours
12 weeks: 1 x 2 hour lecture per week
11 weeks: 1 x 1 hour workshop per week.
This unit is core for the Bachelor of Human Rights.
  • 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.