HUMR5130 – Introduction to the History, Philosophy and Politics of Human Rights

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

New course code starting from the fallsemester 2011 - please see the website for HUMR5131 – Human Rights in History, Philosophy and Politics (the course now gives 10 credits).

This course provides an introduction to the history, philosophy and politics of human rights, beginning with a brief presentation of the pre-history and the modern development of international human rights. Second, you will examine the concept of universal human rights and justifications and criticisms of human rights in general. Next, you will study political and philosophical debates about the soundness of specific human rights norms. You will also examine the status, roles, and uses of human rights in international relations and the issue of promoting human rights across borders and grounding human rights in different normative traditions.

Learning outcome

This course will, successfully completed, provide you with a good understanding of basic conceptual features of modern human rights, including standard justifications and criticisms, of the relationships between human rights and comprehensive moral and political doctrines, and of how they relate to moral and cultural relativism. You will understand the complex, dynamic, and sometimes ambiguous ways human rights promotion operate in transnational, international, and domestic contexts.


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, or the Law faculty's exchange-programme. All applicants must fill the formal prerequisites.
Priority is given to students on the Master of Philosophy programme in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights.


Recommended previous knowledge

Students with no background in human rights studies are strongly advised to prepare in advance the recommended readings.


Lectures and seminars with active student participation.


Examination consists of two parts: A mid-term essay and a 4 hours written examination at the end of the term.
The mid-term essay counts 30% of the grade, the 4-hours written examination counts 70% of the grade. Students who fail or do not deliver the mid-term essay will not be allowed to take the written examination.
The mid-term essay should not exceed 10 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

Auxiliary materials allowed during examinations for courses taught in English.

Recommended/Special Material

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

A student can sit for this exam up to 3 times. If a student wishes to withdraw from the exam, s/he must do this in StudentWeb at least two weeks prior to the first day of the exam. Failure to do so will be counted as one of the three opportunities to sit for the exam.
A study programme may have rules that further limit the number of times a student may re-take this exam. In such instances the rules of the study programme will have priority.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Please se Detailed regulations for the Faculty of Law, Chapter 3 regarding application, responsibilities and special measures.


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






Spring 2011

Spring 2009


Spring 2011

Teaching language