HUMR4510 – Human rights, Politics, and Legitimacy

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Course content

Thise course is discontinued, we offer the possibility to take the examination last time spring 2018.

Both the moral idea of human rights and the system of international legal human rights play an increasingly important role in both domestic and international affairs. At the same time, because of this increasing influence, human rights have met with resistance and demands for justification.

This course will combine two lines of inquiry into human rights: First, it will study the role international human rights play, the influence they have, and the resistance they are met with by different kinds of political regime. Next, it will address the legitimacy of human rights and examine how human rights can be justified and what the task of justifying human rights amounts to.

The course will show how these lines of inquiry are related by examining the increasing emphasis in the philosophical literature on human rights on the need to begin the task of justification by establishing a proper concept of human rights, something which can best be done by paying close attention to the actual practice of human rights.

Learning outcome

The course provides an understanding of the challenges involved in a philosophical justification of human rights, as well as an understanding of the role and influence of international human rights. Furthermore, the course provides insight into the relationship between philosophical and social scientific research on human rights.


You may register for this course if you are admitted to a Master's programme at UiO.

Priority is given to students admitted to Theory and Practice of Human Rights (master's two years).

Students admitted to other Master's programmes may apply for guest student status.




The examination consists of a written assignment, consisting of an essay of maximum 5000 words. The assignment will be assessed in two steps. The students must first deliver a draft paper of maximum 2000 words, on which they will receive comments from the teacher. A week after they receive these comments, students must turn in a final version of the assignment, of maximum 5000 words, text exceeding the word limit will not be read.

The grade will be given based on the final version of the written assignment. It is obligatory to deliver both the draft paper and the final version of the written assignment.


Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

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.

Facts about this course






Thise course is discontinued.


Spring 2018

Thise course is discontinued, we offer the possibility to take the examination last time spring 2018.

Teaching language