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Study information

International Human Rights Law: Regional Systems

Module titleInternational Human Rights Law: Regional Systems
Module codeLAWM158
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Christine Bicknell (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

On this module, you will identify and critically examine the manner and ways in which international law has embraced human rights protections. The predominant focus will be on the regional human rights systems, namely in Europe, Africa and the Americas. You will explore and critically analyse the sources of regional human rights law, interrogating their role, rationale and efficacy. You will also learn about and critique the role of States, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and judicial and non-judicial mechanisms, particularly in respect to implementing and monitoring human rights standards.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The overarching aim of the module is to provide you with the opportunity to learn about and critically assess the major substantive and procedural aspects of international human rights law viewed through the predominant lens of regional human rights systems. It intends to support you to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the rules, institutions, and processes of regional human rights law, as well as the ability to identify the gaps, opportunities, and challenges present in the contemporary regional human rights systems. The module is especially well-suited to anyone interested in working internationally (particularly in those regions covered on the module), in careers such as international legal practice, human rights advocacy (for example, for NGOs), international politics, peacebuilding and diplomacy.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. demonstrate in-depth, systematic knowledge and understanding of international human rights law through the predominant lens of regional human rights systems;
  • 2. demonstrate deep and critical understanding of the procedural and substantive law of the relevant regional bodies responsible for the supervision of States' obligations; and
  • 3. undertake complex critical evaluation of the major contemporary issues in the field of human rights protection at the regional level, using specialist literature and current research.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. demonstrate flexible and innovative capacity to critically analyse complex legal issues, identify the relative significance of applicable rules and principles, and select and use appropriate methods for investigation and evaluation; and
  • 5. demonstrate detailed and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of legal concepts relevant to human rights, and critical awareness of their social and political implications.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. present, explain and critically evaluate a range of substantive and theoretical arguments;
  • 7. identify, retrieve and use a full range of available resources efficiently and autonomously; and
  • 8. work independently and effectively, managing time efficiently, in preparing for scheduled learning activities and 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 nature and development of human rights in international law.
  • Regional human rights standard-setting and implementation.
  • Legal and political accountability for human rights – regional mechanisms.
  • The role of non-State actors.
  • Emerging challenges, limitations and future developments.

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 Teaching1510 x 1.5-hour seminars
Guided Independent Study90Preparation for scheduled learning and teaching activities
Guided Independent Study45Preparation of assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan750 words1-8Individual written 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
Essay1002000 words1-8Individual written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay (2000 words)Essay (2000 words)1-8Referral/Deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Daniel Moeckli, Sangeeta Shah, Sandesh Sivakumaran, and David Harris (eds), International Human Rights Law (4th edn, Oxford University Press 2022)
  • Rhona Smith, International Human Rights Law (10th edn, Oxford University Press 2021)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights, as amended) (ECHR) (signed 4 November 1950)
  • Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union 2012 (C 326/392)
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted 10 December 1948) UNGA Res 217 A(III)
  • African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Banjul Charter) (adopted on 27 June 1981, entered into force 21 October 1986) (1982) 21 ILM 58
  • American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) "Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica” (adopted 22 November 1969, entered into force 18 July 1978) 1144 UNTS 123

Key words search

Human rights, international law, regional human rights systems, Europe, Africa, Americas

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date