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Unit Overview


This unit examines key principles, institutions, organisations, treaties and cases of international human rights law. The development of international human rights law and its historical, political and cultural context is explored, along with debates concerning the theoretical justification for the protection of human rights. Institutional frameworks and procedures for development, interpretation and enforcement are examined. Selected substantive issues of human rights are included as a means of engaging with specific treaties and cases and also in exploring the role of State and non-State actors. Methods of implementation and enforcement of human rights in the international sphere, through both global and regional instruments and institutions are presented and critiqued.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Non-standard teaching periodUWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) identify the key sources of international human rights law and assess and apply them to real-life human rights violations; (2) critique key international instruments and institutions for human rights and critically analyse their historical, cultural and legal significance and their relationship with domestic and regional human rights law; (3) use appropriate research methods to identify theoretical, institutional, judicial and academic sources, critically evaluate them and use them to answer complex questions in relation to human rights; and (4) effectively communicate, both in writing and orally, analyses and conclusions in relation to questions of international human rights law.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) research essay; (2) in-class presentation; and (3) class participation (including pre-class activities on LMS). 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)
Fiona McGaughey
Unit rules
Enrolment in
LAWS5224 Foundations of Public International Law
Enrolment in
LAWS5165 Public International Law
Contact hours
This unit will run 5-9 August 2024. Students must attend every day of the intensive period.
Attendance at all face-to-face sessions is mandatory and there are pre-class activities to be completed also, available on LMS.

Adam McBeth, Justine Nolan and Simon Rice, The International Law of Human Rights, (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. 2017)

  • 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.