HUMR5702 – Human Rights and Sustainable Development: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Theory and Practices

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Course content

This course addresses different ways of thinking about the relationship between development and human rights, and addresses critical contemporary issues as global and local poverty, national and global inequalities and environmental challenges. It discusses shifts over time in the conceptualisation of development and examines the increasingly more central place of human rights in the development discourse, as expressed in ideas about “development as freedom”, “rights-based development” and the “right to development” as a human right. It addresses the recent discourses on linkages between sustainable development and human rights, in view of new trends in globalization. It also explores the role of institutions (local, national and international) in safeguarding human rights (or the opposite, as obstacles to rights protection). The course gives scope for discussing the relationship between economic policies for social justice through human rights lenses, while also presenting selected legal cases and constitutional references on the right to development, and legal protection in development contexts.

The course offers critical examinations of practices of international development agencies, as appropriated by civil society, and thorough the application of a rights based approach to selected human rights issues, notably, poverty, health, climate change and land polices.

Learning outcome


  • Good knowledge of the different conceptions of development, including sustainable development and how human rights became an important development issue through the right to development discourse
  • Good knowledge about the notion of human rights based-approaches to development
  • Good knowledge of key analytical and practical issues that emerge when human rights are integrated into the strategies of development institutions
  • Good knowledge of the main contemporary challenges and controversies pertaining to poverty a as a human rights issue, and the issue of climate change
  • Good knowledge about how development policies impact on the respect for, and protection and fulfilment of human rights


  • Analyse how social, cultural and economic development may imply human rights challenges and violations
  • Find the applicable source material and identify and interpret the relevant substantive rules and principles as they arise in case law, are being adhered to in public policies, and serve as rallying points in national, national and local action
  • Understand the obstacles and challenges of integrating human rights and development, both from a legal and public policy position
  • Critically evaluate existing treaties and resolutions for the protection of human rights in development contexts

General competence

  • Write analytical reports and assessment studies of national and international development institutions, including public institutions and non-governmental organization
  • Understand the main interests and concerns relating to the protection of human rights in development contexts and processes
  • Analyse and assess the dynamic roles of civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights in sustainable development, and make use of this competence in development work


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.

International applicants, if you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures for international applicants

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


Recommended previous knowledge

Participants should have a general command of the subject matter studied in the first semester courses of the Master of Philosophy program in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights


The course is conducted through lectures, seminars and student assignments.


Written assignement, with a maximum of 5000 words, assignments with text exceeding the word limit will not be sent to grading.


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

All support material allowed


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.

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 spring


Every spring

Teaching language