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Study information

Human Rights Law

Module titleHuman Rights Law
Module codeLAW3214
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Mr Richard Edwards (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will primarily focus on the principal legal protection of human rights in England and Wales. To that end, it will cover two principal areas in some depth. First, it will focus on the domestic protection of human rights through the common law and the Human Rights Act (HRA) – the Act which gave further effect to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) within the various legal systems of the UK. Since 2000 Convention rights have become deeply embedded in domestic law in a wide range of challenging contexts, which we will examine in depth. Secondly, the module will involve the study of the relevant jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. This will necessitate an understanding of the Convention system for the protection of human rights, and how the European Court’s jurisprudence has been received in domestic law. Studying this module will equip you with both essential human rights law knowledge and the key skills to understand human rights law current developments, and to apply that knowledge to a range of situations. On the successful completion of the module, you should understand the principles of human rights law and how they have been developed both domestically and by the European Court. Often the module will involve the study of controversial moral and political questions, and how human rights protections have affected them. For example, can we torture criminal suspects? Can we detain without trial people whom we consider to be terrorists? Do celebrities enjoy a right to privacy? Can the state monitor your internet browsing? And is there a right to pornography? Throughout, reference will be made to the legal influence and inheritance of Britain’s colonial experience particularly the influences of decolonisation on English law (e.g., internment, death squads and interrogation in depth). You will also learn from comparisons with other jurisdictions, including Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Canada, Germany, the European Union, South Africa, India, and the USA.

Module aims - intentions of the module

With this 30-credit module, you will develop a solid knowledge of human rights law as well as critical analysis of case law and a detailed knowledge of some of the most important human rights. Whilst the module employs an analytical approach and is heavily case based, it cannot be approached in a ‘black letter’ way. Discussions in class will be based on your reading and thinking about the challenging issues which have come before the courts, and how human rights protections were used (or not) to resolve them. From time to time you will be required to read a wider range of sources from other social sciences and the humanities to fully appreciate the challenging context of the subject.

In terms of employment opportunities, the module is relevant to:

  • students who wish to work for international organisations, non-governmental organisations or public bodies;
  • future lawyers (e.g. barristers or solicitors) who wish to gain an area of legal knowledge highly relevant for many areas of practice or are thinking of working pro-bono; and anyone entertaining an academic career.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate detailed understanding of the nature and practice of human rights laws (Human Rights Act and ECHR) and mechanisms of protection/enforcement;
  • 2. demonstrate a detailed and critical understanding of certain aspects of the law relating to human rights;
  • 3. demonstrate the ability to identify, explain, critically evaluate, and compare key issues in human rights law.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. apply legal knowledge and understanding to a task and to suggest a conclusion supported by relevant argument and authority;
  • 5. select, integrate and present relevant law and legal argument coherently and reflectively;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. demonstrate the ability to present, coherently and reflectively, relevant legal and theoretical arguments;
  • 7. demonstrate the ability to work independently and to manage time efficiently in preparing for scheduled learning activities and assessments;
  • 8. identify, retrieve and use efficiently a range of legal resources with minimum guidance;
  • 9. work independently and manage time efficiently in preparing for scheduled activities, including seminars, and formative and summative assessments.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover all or some of the following topics:


The ECHR: Background to the establishment of the ECHR; The Post WW2 Human Rights Model; The Convention and its Protocols. Article 1 duty; The right of individual petition; General approach of the European Court to the application and interpretation of the ECHR; Remedies; Abuse of Rights. Interpretative techniques; Margin of appreciation; Limitation of rights; Positive obligations; Conflicts between the rights and freedoms.


Rights and Freedoms under English Law; The Human Rights Act; Background to the Human Rights Act 1998: Purpose of the HRA; ‘Convention rights’; The model of incorporation and its legal consequences; The operative provisions of the HRA: Role of Strasbourg case law. (s.2, HRA); Reading down. (s.3, HRA); Declaration of Incompatibility (s.4, and s.10 HRA); Public authorities (s.6, HRA); Standing (s.7, HRA); Remedies (s.8, HRA); Proportionality; Deference.

Aspects of the interpretation/application of the principal Convention rights in both English and European law will be examined (NB: exact coverage may vary with staff availability).

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 4422 x 2 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities128 x 1.5 hour workshops (4 per term), which will involve student-led individual and group work, with guidance and intervention from the tutor
Guided Independent Study 120 Individual reading and study
Guided Independent Study 34Workshop preparation
Guided Independent Study 30Formative assessment preparation
Guided Independent Study 60Summative assessment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short essay plan 750 words1-9Written & oral feedback
Research essay plan 750 words1-9Written & oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short Essay401,500 words1-9 Written & oral feedback
Research Essay602,500 words1-9 Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Short EssayShort Essay (1,500 words)1-9August/September re-assessment period
Research EssayResearch Essay (2,500 words)1-9August/September re-assessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:


Howard Davis, Human Rights Law Directions (OUP, 5th edition 2020).


Angelika Nussberger, The European Court of Human Rights (OUP, 2020).

Bernadette Rainey, Pamela McCormick, and Clare Ovey, Jacobs, White, and Ovey: The European Convention on Human Rights (OUP, 8th edition 2020).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Web-based and electronic resources:


Extensive use will be made of the European Court’s excellent website:

You will also need to use Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw to access case law, as well as the extensive e-resources available in the Lasok Law Library.

Key words search

Human rights law, Human Rights Act, HRA, ECHR, European Convention on Human Rights

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

LAW1036 Legal Foundations, LAW1035 Constitutional and Administrative Law 

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date