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LAW8572 : International Human Rights and Development: Global Challenges

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Rhona Smith
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aim of this module/course is to introduce students to international human rights and development, with a focus on global challenges. The module seeks to situate human rights in its global political, economic, legal and diplomatic context by considering the complexities facing states, individuals, non-state actors and members of civil society.

This module aims:

•       To provide in-depth doctrinal understanding of some of the emerging challenges facing International Human Rights and Development including in terms of Agenda 2030

•       To provide comprehensive understanding of international human rights protection in an increasingly precarious framework

•       To critically consider the often tense relationship between the individual, the state and international organisations in a contemporary context

•       To provide critical examination of international mechanisms of human rights protection with focus on the United Nations as well as, potentially, international/regional courts such as the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the African Court of Human Rights

•       To enable critique on the tensions between human rights, and development

•       To examine selected global challenges engaging rights and development

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus is designed to retain considerable flexibility to enable current challenges to be taught and to facilitate student led exploration of tensions and challenges of interest to them. It is hoped that it will be possible to bring in external contributors, probably in a virtual format, to contribute lived experiences.

•       The individual as a subject of international law and international human rights in the twenty-first century

•       Challenges to human rights protection

•       Evolving right to development, the sustainable development goals and the disaster risk reduction framework

•       International organisations empowered to protect human rights including the United Nations

•       Individual and group rights

•       Civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, both individual and collective

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials81:008:00Pre-prepared online materials (podcasts; short lectures; webinars)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00Individual research, skills (writing and oral) development, preparation and completion of assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching92:0018:00In person classes (FLEX: can be changed to synchronous online)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities471:0047:00Specific research and reading required for small group teaching, online discussions and group work.
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion31:003:00These will use the Canvas discussion facility.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study601:0060:00Reading, researching, viewing, reflecting and synthesising material for each topic
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time41:004:00Q+A sessions spread throughout the module
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching methods reflect experience of teaching delivery during phases on in person attendance and, in 2020-2021, during a phase of entirely remote delivery. The methods are tried and tested in both environments and, as proposed, offer the option of a shift change of delivery method (to remote/more in person) as the circumstances permit/dictate. The MOF is based on the planning presumption that there will be in person small group teaching on campus, with the alternative denoted in parenthesis should a move online be required.

The purpose of this course/ module is to develop student research skills, understanding and awareness of the reality of human rights and development. The lecture materials will be minimal, with an emphasis on podcasts/webinars and other online materials which reflect real life experiences of those working in the fields of human rights and development. These are also designed to be varied to ensure less onscreen reading for students should the delivery be required to accommodate more remote study. The small group teaching session/seminars will be inter-active and they will require advance preparation, hence the allocation of structured research and reading time and independent study. This teaching method aims to promote analytical, argumentative and critical skills essential for discourse. The learning method will rely on directed self-study for the contact teaching time as well as independent study for further in-depth understanding of concepts and issues to be discussed at seminars. Structured non-synchronous discussions support a student centred and student led approach for this research based module. It has been tried and tested, and has proven successful at promoting a collaborative learning experience. Scheduled online contact time permits clarification and elaboration on areas of complexity and some further discussion in a collaborative environment.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2A100A research assessment in which students are expected to explore themes in the teaching addressing a set framework. 3,000 words.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MThis formative allows students to develop presentation skills and to receive formative feedback. 10-15 minutes
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment will provide students an opportunity to demonstrate comprehensive understanding of issues under consideration, application of such knowledge on complex problem and theoretical questions, critical judgment, and breadth of knowledge of relevant primary and secondary sources.

The formative oral examination offers an opportunity to develop presentation skills. The topic will be related (in part) to the summative assessment thereby offering an opportunity for students to practice their research skills in advance of the summative opportunity. The feedback provided for this assessment will directly prepare students for their final assessed essay for the module. It is expected that the written feedback will be supplemented by feed forward drop in sessions (online or in person) where one to one follow up will be possible.

The final summative assessment is a 3,000 word research essay. Students will be expected to undertake research which draws on learning across the entire syllabus, applying their knowledge to a specific theme/topic. There will be flexibility in the content to facilitate student exploration of issues/countries of specific interest to them. This assessed essay will test understanding of issues under consideration, application of such knowledge on complex problem and theoretical questions, critical judgment, and breadth of knowledge of relevant primary and secondary sources. It will also reflect the interdisciplinary nature of human rights and development and the student’s grasp of the complexities of practical reality in the twenty-first century.

This format of formative and summative has proven to work well in the previous ten credit module (LAW8139) delivered in person and in the twenty credit module in semester 1, 2020-2021 with presentations and drop in feed forward sessions delivered by zoom (due to the then prevailing restrictions).

Reading Lists