Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2012
Coordinator(s)Professor Bain Attwood


Throughout the ages, human beings have struggled for justice by claiming rights of one kind or another. This unit examines this phenomenon from the late eighteenth century, when the concept of 'the rights of man' came to the fore, to the present day, when the ideal of 'human rights' seems to have triumphed. We will trace both changes and continuities across the modern age by paying special attention to the advocates of rights, their reasons for campaigning, the ways they defined and legitimated the rights they claimed, and the means they adopted to win hearts and minds.


Upon successful completion of this unit students will be expected to have:

  1. gained broad knowledge of the historical timeline of the struggle for rights in the modern era
  2. gained a clear understanding of the origins of both modern and contemporary concepts of rights
  3. gained a thorough knowledge of changes and continuities in struggles for justice in the modern era, especially in terms of the ways rights have been conceived
  4. gained a deep understanding of the manner in which rights are historical constructs
  5. a clear understanding of the main historiographical debates in the field of study
  6. an ability to to analyse carefully and critically key texts in the history of the struggle for rights, especially in regard to their use of rhetoric
  7. an ability to consider the subject matter both empathetically and objectively
  8. developed their oral communication skills
  9. improved their written communication skills

Students successfully completing this unit at a Third Year level will also have acquired:

  1. independent research skills through using a broad range of historical sources.


Tutorial participation: 10%
Written work (4500 words): 90%

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Bain Attwood

Contact hours

One 1-hour lecture per week and one 1-hour tutorial per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

International studies


First year history sequence