HUMR5132 – Human Rights Law in Context

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Course content

The catalogue of human rights and their use in public discourse has expanded considerably over the last decades. This expansion process and related controversies are discussed and analyzed at length in scholarly writing in different fields, including law, philosophy, and political sciences. The controversies and competing interests of different stakeholders are evident in the legal and political demands of individuals, States, and non-State actors.

Based on a selection of topics, this course sets out to examine how certain rights and protections for certain categories of persons have emerged, have been interpreted and have been applied in practice.

The focus will be on a selection of civil and political rights, socio-economic rights, collective rights, and extra-territorial rights which generate considerable controversies in their practical application. Each selected topic will be presented through a multi-disciplinary method. This presentation will involve establishing the historical and political background of the specific right, assessing philosophical debates and problematiques, examining its recognition and interpretation in international and comparative law, and assessing its broader interpretation and application in practice. Due attention will also be devoted to potential and actual conflicts between different rights.

Learning outcome


After having completed this course the student will have:

  • a good understanding of a selection of civil, political, socio-economic rights, and collective human rights, as well as issues of equality and access to justice;
  • knowledge about the historical and political background of the selected rights and how they affect current political debates;
  • knowledge about philosophical debates and problems relating to access to justice;
  • knowledge about the recognition and interpretation of these rights in international and comparative law;
  • knowledge about perceived and actual conflicts between different rights.



After having completed this course the student will be able to:

  • assess procedural and substantive human rights from different disciplinary perspectives;
  • identify different rights and debate their respective justifications;
  • assess how the application of human rights affects political and socio-legal processes;
  • assess how substantive human rights are interpreted and applied in practice;
  • present oral and written arguments about human rights, using different methods.


General competence

After having completed this course the student will be able to:

  • assess the relationship between legal and non-legal perspectives on human rights;
  • assess how the interaction among different stakeholders determines the scope of the right concerned;
  • assess the effectiveness and impact of human rights law in a societal context.


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 Master of Philosophy programme in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights and then the human rights stream of the Masters in Public International Law.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Students must fill one of these requirements:

  • Passed 1st - 3rd year of the 5-years degree Master of Laws (Master i rettsvitenskap at UiO) (or exams that qualify for exemption for these) or
  • Hold a 5-years Master’s degree in Laws (Master i rettsvitenskap at UiO) or equivalent.

Exemptions from the formal prerequisites will be given to students with admission to the faculty's own exchange or master’s degree programmes. This rule does not apply to students with admission to other master’s degree programmes at the University of Oslo, unless otherwise agreed.


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 a written assignment with a maximum of 5000 words and an oral debate assignment. Please note that assignments with text exceeding the word limit will not be sent to grading.

The written assignment account for 100 % of the total grade, the oral debate assignment is graded pass/fail. One total grade is given for the whole coursework.

Students who fail or do not pass the oral debate will not be allowed to deliver the written assignment.

In case of retake, a candidate must only retake the written assignment as long as the oral debate has been successfully passed previously.

Please note that if a student wish to file an appeal, only the written assignment will undergo a regrading. You cannot submit an appeal about oral or practical examinations, since the performance is not documented for future purposes.

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.

Previous exam papers

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.

Marking criteria

This  guide is used by examiners for grading this course.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

If a student has submitted a written assignment a second time in the same course s/he can only submit it in a new version. This means that there must be another title and theme, or that the new version must be considerably changed from the first version.

Students who wish to retake the exam in a later semester are not guaranteed that the course is ever repeated with a similar reading list, nor that the exam arrangement will be the same.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take this 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.

There are special rules for resitting a passed examination in the master's programme in Law.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language