Human Rights I


The course is an introduction to the human right (HR) topic, focusing on law, politics and ethics in a multidisciplinary perspective. 4 parts are included in the course. Part 1-3 deals with public international law, the UN system, democracy, world politics, the state concept, and HR in history of ideas, as well as, ethics and religion and HR. These parts are examined by written or take-home exams. Part 4 is a group project work.

Admission requirements

General entry requirements + English B.

For Swedish Upper Secondary Grades merit rating will be calculated according to Områdesbehörighet 6/A6


final grades 66% national university aptitude test 34%


Syllabus for students autumn 2017, autumn 2016

Course Code:
MR101L revision 5.1
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
Human Rights
Date of ratification:
11 May 2016
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
29 August 2016
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
14 March 2016

Entry requirements

General entry requirements + English B.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course is part of the main field of study Human Rights at the 1-30 credit level and meets the degree requirements for the degree of Bachelor, main field of study Human Rights.


The aim of the course is that the students will acquire basic knowledge and skills in the subject area of human rights from a multidisciplinary perspective.


The course contains the following modules:

- Law and Human Rights (7,5 credits)
The first module comprises studies both of basic international law and human rights law and of monitoring mechanisms to safeguard human rights protection and promotion.

- Politics and Human Rights (7,5 credits)
The second module comprises studies of human rights in relation to the concept of state, and with regard to political power and democratic processes.

- Philosophy, Religion and Human Rights (7,5 credits)
The third module comprises studies of philosophical and ethical theories and discussions regarding human rights.

- Project Work (7,5 credits)
The fourth module consists of writing a country analysis from a multidisciplinary perspective on human rights.

Learning outcomes

The course consists of four modules:
1. Law and Human Rights

After completing the module, the student will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of international law and human rights law
  • demonstrate knowledge of the content and function of basic treaties in international law and human rights law and account for the relationship between international and national law,
  • identify relevant sources in the human rights legal area
  • legally assess situations and cases with reference to substantive norms of international law and human rights law

2. Politics and Human Rights
After completing the module, the student will be able to:
  • analyse the role of the state in the realization of human rights and the relation between human rights and democracy, states’ capacity and the development of state sovereignty, as well as human rights as principles within the international community.
  • analyse political dimensions of human rights, such as reasons for failures in fulfillment and for violations of rights, and institutions that are important for rights fulfillment.

3. Philosophy, Religion and Human Rights

After completing the module, the student will be able to:
  • describe the historical background of the concept of human rights.
  • demonstrate knowledge of the view of human rights in the different world religions.
  • analyse and critically reflect on philosophical and religious aspects concerning the background to and development of the present-day human rights regime.

4. Project Work

After completing the module, the student will be able to:
  • critically examine, in cooperation with others, human rights issues from a legal, political, and philosophical perspective.
  • identify and use relevant theories and source material in an analysis of the human rights situation in a particular country;
  • present this analysis in a logical and coherent manner, orally and in writing.

Learning activities

The course is designed for full-time study. The teaching is mainly in the form of lectures and seminars. The majority of the student’s workload consists of independent study.
Students are responsible for keeping up with the reading and for coming prepared to each class. Students are presumed to pursue their own study groups.
Teaching in modules 1-3 is mainly lectures and seminars. During the fourth module, separate project meetings are held, wherein students receive mandatory group supervision.


Students’ performance in Modules 1-3 is appraised by means of formal written examinations (module 1 and 3) and home assignments (module 2). The fourth module is a country analysis, assessed by an oral presentation and a written assignment. The examinations test knowledge and understanding of the Human Rights issues covered in the modules as well as the student’s ability, within agreed timetables and in line with other examination requirements, to critically analyse, evaluate and resolve Human Rights questions. In addition, the student’s ability to analyse and reflect upon the support for human rights in contemporary society is evaluated.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Module 1: Law and Human rights
  • Klabbers, Jan (latest ed), International law (Cambridge UP)
  • Documents in Public International Law, follow teacher's instructions
  • Fasulo, Linda (2004) An Insider’s Guide to the UN (Yale: Yale University Press)
  • Smith, Rhona (latest ed), Textbook on International Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford UP)
There may be additional articles of 100 pages max – see lecture presentations.

Module 2: Politics and Human rights
  • Bates, Robert (2008) “State Failure.” Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 11: 1-12.
  • Bellamy, Alex J (2008) “The Responsibility to Protect and the problem of military intervention.” International Affairs 84(4): 615-639.
  • Booth Walling, Carrie (2015) “Human Rights Norms, State Sovereignty, and Humanitarian Intervention”. Human Rights Quarterly, 37(2): 383-413.
  • Call, Charles (2010) ”Beyond the ’failed state’: Toward conceptual alternatives”. European Journal of International Relations, 17(2): 303-326.
  • Curtis, Devon (2013) “The limits of state-building for peace in Africa”. South African Journal of International Affairs 20(1): 79-97.
  • Evans, Gareth (2009) “The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All.” Irish Studies in International Affairs 20: 7-13.
  • Holmberg, Sören, Bo Rothstein & Naghmeh Nasiritousi (2009) “Quality of Government: What You Get.” Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 12: 135-162.
  • Mamdani, Mahmood (2001) “Beyond Settler and Native as Political Identities: Overcoming the Political Legacy of Colonialism”. Comparative Studies in Society and History 43(4): 651-664.
  • Pierson, Christopher (2012) The Modern State. Routledge, 3rd edition (or other editions).
  • Stahn, Carsten (2007) “Responsibility to protect: Political rhetoric or emerging legal norm?” American Journal of International Law 101(1): 99-120.
Module 3: Philosophy, Religion and Human rights
  • Hayden, Patrick (2001), The Philosophy of Human Rights (St Paul: Paragon House)
  • Miller, David (2003) Political Philosophy. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Nickel, James W. (2007) Making Sense of Human Rights (Oxford: Blackwell, 2nd ed)
  • Roald, Anne Sofie (2010): ” Multiculturalism and religious legislation in Sweden” in M Haydeh Moghissi och Halleh Ghorashi (Eds.), Muslim Diaspora in the West. Negotiating Gender, Home and Belonging, Surrey and Burlington: Ashgate, pp. 55-72 (can be accessed as e-book on the website of Malmö University Library) .
  • Sooryamoorthy, Radhamany (2008): "Untouchability in Modern India", International Sociology, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 283-293.
  • Witte, John, Jr., Alexander, Frank S. (2010), Christianity and Human Rights. An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (in selection, approx.. 70 p.) (can be accessed as e-book on the website of Malmö University Library).
  • Witte, John, Jr, Green, Christian (2011),Religion and Human Rights. An Introduction, (Oxford Univ. Press.)
There may be additional articles of 100 pages max – see lecture presentations.

Course evaluation

The University provides students who participate in or who have completed a course with the opportunity to make known their experiences and viewpoints with regards to the course by completing a course evaluation administered by the University. The University will compile and summarize the results of course evaluations as well as informing participants of the results and any decisions relating to measures initiated in response to the course evaluations. The results will be made available to the students (HF 1:14).

Interim rules

If a course is no longer offered or has undergone major changes, students will be offered two re-take sessions based on the syllabus in force at registration during a period of one year from the date of the implementation of the changes.

Other Information

Language of Instruction is English


The education is provided by the Faculty of Culture and Society at the Department of Global Political Studies.

Further information

GPSstudent - Malmö universitet,
Malin Isaksson, Course Coordinator
Phone: 040-6657282