Module Catalogue 2023/24

LAW3034 : Fundamentals of Human Rights Law

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Elena Katselli
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To provide an advanced understanding of the theoretical debates underpinning human rights, the mechanisms that can be relied upon for their protection, and key human rights issues. This will be accomplished by evaluating how human rights are protected at a national, regional and international level with focus on contemporary events and developments such as national emergencies and their impact on the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms and rights.

Outline Of Syllabus

- Human Rights: Conceptual origins, theoretical underpinnings and protection of human rights in a contemporary legal context
- Universality of Human Rights v Cultural relativism
- International mechanisms of human rights protection
- Regional mechanisms of human rights protection
- National mechanisms of human rights protection
- The right to life and the right to health
- The right to dignity and prohibition from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
- Freedom of religion and freedom of expression

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

These include:

• A critical understanding of the concept of human rights, the theoretical debates around their justification, and the legal, moral and practical challenges that inhibit their (effective) protection;
• A comparative understanding and evaluation of the various legal mechanisms that exist to safeguard human rights;
• An advanced understanding of key contemporary human rights issues with which students can relate to, assisting them to put their knowledge to the test.

Intended Skill Outcomes

These include the ability:

• to comprehend a wide range of primary and secondary resources;
• to critically evaluate and to articulate well-substantiated legal arguments and opinions;
• to reflect on key issues and to develop independent thinking;
• to engage in theoretical debates and to put their knowledge to test;
• to write and talk clearly, concisely and coherently;
• to engage in independent research;
• to develop their problem-solving skills.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture281:0028:00Live lecture
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion147:0047:00Preparation for exam in January
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Students will need to prepare a 2,000-word essay which will count towards 33% of their mark.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00Small group seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study170:0070:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship


The lectures aim to introduce key concepts, theories and legal principles as well as main scholarly debates on relevant issues strengthening in this way student understanding.


Seminars provide an opportunity to deepen student understanding on key issues through discussion and active student engagement through advanced reading and preparation on set questions/problems. They also enable students to take control over their learning. Students will also be given responsibility over taking notes, synthesising information, comparing their understanding and sharing this with the entire class by uploading such notes on Canvas.

The combination of these activities will enable students to obtain a sound and well-rounded understanding of the fundamentals of human rights law whilst at the same time strengthening critical evaluation, legal analysis, problem solving and research skills. They will also enhance students’ ability to comprehend a wide range of primary and secondary sources, to formulate well-substantiated legal arguments and opinions and to articulate these orally and in writing clearly and coherently.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1351A67Written In-house Examination (answer 3 out of 6 questions)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M332,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay aims to strengthen student comprehension through undertaking of in-depth critical legal analysis and independent research. It also aims to advance students’ writing and problem-solving skills, time management as well as their ability to advance well-supported legal arguments in a concise and focused manner. This is achieved through synthesis of information/materials/ideas and arguments obtained from a wide range of primary and secondary resources which are then implemented in a set context.

The exam aims to test student knowledge on a broader range of legal issues and a student's ability to effectively apply such knowledge to hypothetical scenarios.

Alternative assessment for exam: if the exam cannot take place due to public health circumstances, it will be replaced with a 24 hour take home exam.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.