HUMR4140 – Introduction to Human Rights Law

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

New course code starting from the fallsemester 2011 - please see the website for HUMR5140 – Human rights in international and national law (the course now gives 10 credits).

The legal protection of human rights on the international level has developed rapidly since the end of World War II while the post-Cold War period has seen a proliferation of remedial mechanisms. The course will begin with an overview of the legal developments in human rights from 1789 through to the present, with a focus on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, international and regional human rights treaties and UN Charter bodies. The remainder of the course will examine particular substantive rights and their relevant international and regional bodies with lectures on: (i) right to self-determination (ii) selected civil and political rights (iii) economic and social rights (iv) equality rights and (v) human rights in international criminal and humanitarian law. In addition to lectures, the course will include participatory seminars that challenge students to discuss key questions, examine relevant national jurisdictions, present a short essay (1500 words) on a controversial topic, and selected students will participate in a legal moot or mock UN procedure.

Learning outcome

The aim of this course is to provide students with a good understanding of human rights law, institutions and mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights at universal, regional and national levels. Students should be able to identify different tools for legal interpretation of key texts, problematise human rights questions in a legal context, identify key institutional mechanisms and be able to present orally and in written form arguments on human rights from a legal perspective.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

You may register for this course if you have admission to a Master's programme at UiO. All applicants must fill the formal prerequisites.
Priority is given to students on the programme Theory and Practice of Human Rights (master's two years).


Formal prerequisite knowledge

No obligatory prerequisites beyond the minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway.

Overlapping courses


Lectures and seminars

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


Examination consists of two parts: A mid-term essay, and a a written assignment at the end of the term.
The mid-term essay counts 40% of the grade, the written assignment counts 60% of the grade. Students who fail or do not deliver the mid-term essay will not be allowed to deliver the final assignment.
The mid-term essay should not exceed 8 pages. The assignment should not exceed 15 pages.

In case of retake, a candidate must retake both examinations, even if the candidate has successfully passed one of the examinations.

Please note that if a student wish to file an appeal in only one of the examinations, both examinations will automatically undergo a regrading.

Use of sources and rules for citing.

Be sure that you are familiar with the use of sources and the rules for citing/quoting from others’ work
UiO uses a plagiarism checking tool as one of several instruments for detecting suspicion of cheating and attempted cheating.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination


Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2010


Autumn 2010

Teaching language