LAW5304 - Overview of international human rights law - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

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



Quota applies

Postgraduate programs are based on a model of small group teaching and therefore class sizes need to be restricted.

Unit guides


City (Melbourne)

  • First semester 2017 (On-campus block of classes)
  • Second semester 2017 (On-campus block of classes)


For postgraduate Law discontinuation dates, please see

For postgraduate Law unit timetables, please see

Previously coded as LAW7026


This unit is an overview of international human rights law, providing the requisite foundational knowledge for further study and practise in this area. After a brief introduction to public international law, the unit focuses on international human rights law concepts, including the competing theoretical and philosophical foundations of international human rights law, the historical development of modern international human rights law, and the debates surrounding universal, culturally relative and/or the pluralistic nature of human rights. It also provides detailed analysis of the international human rights institutions and enforcement mechanisms, focussing on the United Nations Charter- and Treaty-based systems. After a critical exploration of the different types of rights and the debates surrounding hierarchy and justiciability of rights, the unit focuses on the scope and content of civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights. The unit examines the various methods and criteria for restricting the application of rights, including the derogation and limitations mechanisms. It includes an assessment of the relevance of international human rights law to Australian law and practice.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  • apply knowledge and understanding of foundational concepts, as well as a range of current controversies and recent developments, in relation to international human rights law, with creativity and initiative to new situations in professional practice and/or for further learning;
  • investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to international human rights law, and critically evaluate the effectiveness of modern international human rights law and its mechanisms in redressing violations of human rights;
  • conduct research in the area of international human rights law, including its relevance to domestic law, based on knowledge of appropriate research principles and methods; and
  • use cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate at an abstract level complex ideas and concepts relevant to international human rights law.


Research essay (max 7,500 words): 100%


Two research essays (max 3,750 words each): 50% each

Workload requirements

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)

Chief examiner(s)