HUMR5140 – Human rights in international and national law

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COVID-19: Teaching and exams autumn semester 2020

The ongoing corona situation will affect teachings and exams also in the autumn semester 2020.

Read updated information regarding the autumn semester 2020.

The course will use the grading scale A-F.

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 places human rights law in a broader context of international law, and gives 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. However, the primary focus of the course is to describe important legal characteristics of human rights treaties, such as the personal and territorial scope of application, the treaty bodies, the supervision and enforcement mechanisms, and the legal impact on a national and international level. Further, the course introduces particular substantive rights which will be addressed more in-depth at other courses in the program.

Learning outcome

This course discusses human rights as a legal concept, and aims to provide students with a good understanding of human rights law.


After having completed this course the student  will have:

  • a good understanding of institutions and mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights at global, regional and national level
  • a good understanding of important legal characteristics of human rights treaties, such as their scope of application, their supervision and enforcement mechanisms, and their legal impact on a national and international level
  • knowledge about the legal developments in human rights from 1789 through to the present
  • knowledge about important human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and regional and international human rights treaties
  • knowledge about selected substantive rights, which will be addressed more in-depth in other courses


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

  • identify different tools for legal interpretation of key texts
  • problematise human rights questions in a legal context
  • identify key institutional mechanisms for addressing human rights concerns
  • present orally and in writing arguments on human rights from a legal perspective

General competence

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

  • view human rights law in a broader context of international law
  • understand the potential and the limitations of law as a tool to address human rights concerns



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).

Overlapping courses


Lectures and eventually 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.


Adjustments due to COVID-19:

In the autumn semester 2020, the exam will be a 48 hours home exam, maximum 2000 words.

Footnotes should be included in the word count of the main text. Not included in this count: front page (with name and title etc.), summary, table of contents and references (bibliography). (If relevant for the paper).

Assignments/papers with text exceeding the word limit will not be accepted.

(Normally the course has a 4 hour written school exam and a mid- term paper)

A mid-term paper should be handed in in the middle of the semester, with a maximum of 2500 words. Delivery of the mid-term paper is mandatory. Students who fail or do not deliver the mid-term paper will not be allowed to sit for the 48 hour home exam.

Students are awarded either a passing or a failing grade on the mid-term paper.

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

Examination support material

This is an open book digital school examination. You are permitted to use any materials written on paper during the examination. This includes books, lecture materials and your own notes, whether handwritten or printed. There are no restrictions on marking up or highlighting these written materials. No electronic support materials are allowed.

Use of sources and rules for citing. 

The standard rules on cheating and plagiarism which apply to assignments apply also to the written open book examination. This means that you must provide a reference whenever you draw upon another person’s ideas, words or research in your answer to the exam question(s). You cannot copy text directly from textbooks, journal articles, court judgments etc. without highlighting that the text is copied.

Thus, pieces of text quoted verbatim from these and other sources must be italicised or otherwise highlighted so that it is obvious that the pieces of text are quotes.

Example of highlighting in a text:

"Laurent Bailay and Bernard Van der Lande propose to define a mobile payment as a “payment for products or services between two parties for which a mobile device, such as a mobile phone, plays a key role in the realization of the payment”. (European Commission, GREEN PAPER Towards an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments, page 5)"

Failure to cite sources or highlight quotes in your exam answer may be considered as evidence of 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.

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.


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






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language