Credit points: 15

Subject outline

In recent years, human rights issues have moved to the forefront of the political agenda in Australia. Controversy over powerful anti-terror laws and the treatment of asylum seekers has led to increasing criticism of Australia's human rights record, and calls for Australia to adopt a national bill of rights. This subject will explore some of the complex theoretical and institutional issues surrounding the protection of human rights. The first half of the unit focuses on theoretical debates over the nature over rights and democracy, drawing on the writings of Locke, Bentham, Marx, Mill, Dworkin and Waldron. The second half of the unit focuses explores the relationship between political institutions and human rights, paying particular attention to the experience of liberal democracies such as Australia, the US and Britain. We will conclude by considering the current Australian debate over a bill of rights in light of the normative and empirical arguments covered during the semester.

FacultyFaculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorNicholas Barry

Available to Study Abroad StudentsYes

Subject year levelYear Level 4 - UG/Hons/1st Yr PG

Exchange StudentsYes

Subject particulars

Subject rules

Prerequisites Enrolment in one of: AHA-Bachelor of Arts Honours degree, majoring in Politics, AHIR-Bachelor of International Relations Honours, AHSS-Bachelor of Social Sciences Honours or AHID-Bachelor of International Development Honours


Incompatible subjectsN/A

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Special conditionsN/A

Learning resources


Resource TypeTitleResource RequirementAuthor and YearPublisher
Readings'Nonsense Upon Stilts': Bentham, Burke, and Marx on the Rights of Man.RecommendedJeremy Waldron (ed), LONDON AND NEW YORK, 1987
ReadingsThe Politics of Human Rights in AustraliaRecommendedChappell, L., J.Chesterman and L.HillCAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, MELBOURNE, 2009

Subject options

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Start date between: and    Key dates

Melbourne, 2014, Semester 2, Day


Online enrolmentYes

Maximum enrolment sizeN/A

Enrolment information

Subject Instance Co-ordinatorNicholas Barry

Class requirements

Seminar Week: 31 - 43
One 2.0 hours seminar per week on weekdays during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via blended.


Assessment elementComments%
one 4000-word research essay100