Credit points: 15

Subject outline

This subject poses questions about the origins, the evolution, and the nature of the emerging global human rights order. Are human rights the product of a peculiarly European heritage? What was the relationship between French revolutionary declarations of rights and the ensuing terror? How has the language of rights been used by socialists, feminists, imperialists, anti-slavery campaigners and national liberation movements? How have notions of human rights been influenced by the legacy of the holocaust, the Cold War, decolonisation, the sexual revolution, the war on terror, and the rise of authoritarian great powers? Within a historical framework, the subject examines the interplay of ideas, civic activism, politics, and diplomacy. In the process, students will have an opportunity to evaluate the ideas of proponents and critics of universal rights, the different ways that states have responded to human rights, and the new pessimism that surrounds the prospects of human rights.

SchoolHumanities and Social Sciences

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorRobert Horvath

Available to Study Abroad/Exchange StudentsYes

Subject year levelYear Level 2 - UG

Available as ElectiveYes

Learning ActivitiesArgumentative research essay; Take-home exam essay; tutorial engagement exercises

Capstone subjectNo

Subject particulars

Subject rules

Prerequisites 15 credit points of any first year Politics or History subject, or subject coordinator's approval


Incompatible subjectsN/A

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Quota Management StrategyN/A

Quota-conditions or rulesN/A

Special conditionsN/A

Minimum credit point requirementN/A

Assumed knowledgeN/A

Career Ready


Work-based learningNo

Self sourced or Uni sourcedN/A

Entire subject or partial subjectN/A

Total hours/days requiredN/A

Location of WBL activity (region)N/A

WBL addtional requirementsN/A

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

Graduate Capabilities

Intended Learning Outcomes

01. Ability to construct a logical, well-structured argument that addresses a contested issue
02. Ability to conduct original research using newspaper databases to assemble evidence in support of an argument
03. Ability to undertake secondary source research to establish the scholarly context and the lines of debate surrounding an important issue
04. Understanding of how human rights has evolved and how it remains a focus of contention in different cultures and political systems

Subject options

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Start date between: and    Key dates

Melbourne (Bundoora), 2021, Semester 1, Blended


Online enrolmentYes

Maximum enrolment sizeN/A

Subject Instance Co-ordinatorRobert Horvath

Class requirements

LectureWeek: 10 - 22
One 2.00 hours lecture per week on weekdays during the day from week 10 to week 22 and delivered via blended.

TutorialWeek: 10 - 22
One 1.00 hour tutorial per week on weekdays during the day from week 10 to week 22 and delivered via blended.


Assessment elementCommentsCategoryContributionHurdle% ILO*

Short written tutorial comments and questions (equivalent to 500 words).

N/AOtherIndividualNo15 SILO3

One 2,000 word argumentative research essay

N/AAssignmentIndividualNo50 SILO1, SILO2, SILO3

One 1,500 word take-home exam In format this will resemble the structure of the argumentative research essay, and students will have the opportunity to employ recommendations given by the examiner for the earlier exercise

N/AOther written examIndividualNo35 SILO1, SILO4