SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 30.00
ECTS Credit Points 15.00
Module Code MML324145
Module Leader Angela O'Hagan
School School for Work Based Education
Subject SCWBE
  • A (September start)
  • B (January start)
  • C (May start)

Summary of Content

The overall aim of this module is to introduce and explore the theoretical underpinning of legislative and normative approaches to human rights principles in an international and local context. It considers the development of international and domestic human rights legislation and normative practices such as human rights principles, including FAIR and PANEL in the context of Scotland and the UK. The content provides a strong underpinning in theoretical, conceptual, and legislative understanding of human rights law and practice for students to engage with critically, applying the concepts and principles in the contexts of everyday life and in practice in social work, community development, advocacy and activism, workplace representation, policy formulation and implementation.


The material for the course will be delivered in 3 standalone but inter-related and complementary blocks. 20 hours of facilitated learning (including podcasts, videocasts, video-conferencing, moderated online discussions) will be included per each block. Block 1 (20 hours) Following a basic introduction to the course and the main thematic areas, students will cover: -240 - Schools of thought on human rights - Human Rights sources,institutions and compliance - international, European, UK/Scotland Block 2 Human rights concepts and contexts -229 - Cultural Relativism - Ideology and Human rights - misuse,mis-application; freedom of expression - Equality and Human rights - tensions and synergies in concept and practice Block 3 This final substantive block will consider the development and application of human rights concepts in practice in business, advocacy, and policy development and within context of other policy and rights agendas including: - Climate Change and environmental justice - Human rights and business - Economic models and global capitalism - Poverty and socio-economic rights Conclusion: Module Summary and Review: The module will conclude with a theoretical and conceptual overview of the material presented throughout the course highlighting thematic areas and key strands to consolidate learning outcomes and support summative assessment.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:Critically assess analytical and methodological complexities associated with the contemporary understanding of human rightsAnalyse and contextualise inter-relations between theory and practice of human rights, and aspects of social and legal theory and practiceCritically examine ideas and issues surrounding equality, racism, sexuality, disability, difference and human rightsApply critical thinking and social science principles to daily situations as well as the process of lifelong learning

Teaching / Learning Strategy

Learning, teaching and assessment are underpinned by a work based blended learning strategy that emphasises the ability to apply learning incrementally in a real time context. Student engagement will be facilitated by an online lecture programme delivered via GCU Learn using video, podcast and text based sources. As this area of study has developed substantively in recent years, lecture material will be supplemented by additional audio-visual and text-based material from relevant organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Scottish Human Rights Commission, British Institute of Human Rights, Equal Rights Trust and other local organisations. The lecture programme will be supplemented by directed reading that to inform on-line seminar discussions, contextualised formative individual and group learning and final assessment. Virtual student engagement will be encouraged by an incremental approach to negotiated assessment; while group cohesion and encouraging the formation of communities of learning and practice will be consolidated via activities such as role play, workshops and both student-led and staff-led exercises during face-to-face module sessions. Reflective blogs and on-line journals also supplement student exchanges and support learning. Both virtual and face-to-face sessions will also be designed to facilitate effective peer support for learning and practice. Summative assessment, based upon a portfolio of continuous assessment will encourage consolidation of introductory research skills and the ability to apply knowledge of basic concepts and theories in practice.

Indicative Reading

*Where possible, e-books will be supplied. If not possible, relevant chapters will be digitised using GCU scanning service and made available for downloading via GCU Learn. BALAKRISHNAN, R. AND ELSON, D. 2011. Economic Policy and Human Rights. London: Zed Books. CAMPBELL, T., GOLDSWORTHY, J. AND STONE, A. (eds.). 2003. Protecting Human Rights: Instruments and Institutions. Oxford: OUP. CAREY, S.C., GIBNEY, M. AND POE, S.C. 2010. The Politics of Human Rights: The Quest for Dignity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press CLAPHAM, A. 2007. Human Rights: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: OUP. CONNELL, R. 2011. Confronting equality: Gender, Knowledge and Global Change. Bristol: Polity Press. CUSHMAN, T. 2011 Human Rights: The Basics. London: Routledge DEMBOUR, MARIE-BENEDICTE. 2006 Who Believes in Human Rights? Cambridge University Press. Available as e-book from GCU Catalogue at <>. DEMBOUR, MARIE-Bc9Nc9DICTE. 2010. "What Are Human Rights? Four Schools of Thought", Human Rights Quarterly 32, pp. 1-20. ELSON, D. 2002, "Gender justice, human rights and neoliberal economic policies", Gendered Dimensions of Development. FREEMAN, M. 2011. Human Rights, Oxford: Polity. GOODHART, M. and MIHR, A. (eds.). 2011. Human Rights in the 21st Century: Continuity and Change since 9/11. Palgrave Macmillan. HODSON, L. 2011. NGOs and the Struggle for Human Rights in Europe. Oxford: Hart Publishing. ISHAY, M.R. (ed.). 2007. The Human Rights Reader. Routledge. MARTIN, G. 2012. Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues. SAGE MCCOMBS. M., HOLBER, L. AND KIOUSIS, S. (2011) The News and Public Opinion: Media Effects on Civic Life. Polity. O'BYRNE, D. 2016.Human Rights in a Globalizing World. Palgrave. WILKINSON, P. 2011. State Terrorism and Human Rights. Routledge. WALBY, S. 2015. Crisis. Polity Press.

Transferrable Skills

Critical analysis/reflection on complex contemporary social issues Ability to critique moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding ideas of human rights, equality, social justice and citizenship in relation to professional practice and personal professional development Ability to apply learning in practice Ability to debate and discuss sensitive issues with confidence Ability to work independently and in groups Communication and presentation skills Time management IT literacy , including information search, retrieval and use and Bibliographical skills Equality and diversity awareness

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (PT) 24.00
Practicals (PT) 12.00
Independent Learning (PT) 224.00
Assessment (PT) 40.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 40.00 45% portfolio (2000 words)- refelective blog, essay and presentation.
Coursework 2 n/a 60.00 45% case study report (3800 words)