PSY4506 – Human Rights, Democracy and Reconstruction after Conflict: A community based approach

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Course content

The aftermath of serious human rights violations

This course aims at giving the students an introduction to international human rights with special focus on ways of dealing with serious human rights  violations in the aftermath of these based on psychological knowledge and a psychological perspective.

An overview of international provisions and implementation in relation to justice, accountability and reparation after gross human rights violations will be presented. Furthermore an overview of ongoing legal processes, first of all criminal court proceedings taking place in different parts of the world will be presented, with special focus on the situation for witnesses, participants and persons otherwise involved and affected by the serious human rights violations.

The course aims at introducing ways in which psychology can contribute with respect to reconstruction of democracy and justice following violence and conflict.

Different consequences of international conflict will be discussed. In particular, engaging in wars outside one’s own territory, a phenomena that today is often called “foreign fighters”, will be dealt with, trying to understand what attracts persons to engage in this form of warfare. As part of the discussions and analysis of these phenomena, a culture and gender perspective will be given emphasis.

Develop critical analytical skills

A central feature of this course is to develop the students’ capacity to understand and apply principles and standards from international human rights into a community context. Insight into and knowledge about conflicts and consequences of these, will be given weight. Likewise a focus will be given to the development of critical analysis and understanding of these social phenomena based on a psychological approach. 

The students will after their examination have acquired skills and knowledge within the field of post-conflict and reconstruction of societies after war, violence, lack of stability and obtained insight into ways of dealing with the abuses of the past, such as forms of transitional justice, programs of reparation etc., as ways of dealing with reconstruction after conflict. The course prepares the students to further studies and research within their chosen field of study. 

Learning outcome


After completing this course, students will:

  • Be aquainted with human rights, both historical, as ideas and as principles for application and respect. 
  • Have knowledge about democratic development and different forms for interventions in societies in transition.
  • Apply theory and research in order to explore or present such phenomena and be able to relate the knowledge to social and cultural psychology as well as health, social and developmental psychology.


After completing this course, students will know how to:

  • Analyze and discuss issues related to human rights and consequences of serious violations of these, in a psychological context and be able to refer to models for interventions both on social, group and social level.
  • Analyze and dicsuss rights as well as well as how these can be ensured and implemented, in both a gender and a cultural perspective.


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.

This course will not be offered if fewer than 8 students enroll.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

The course build on the knowledge from a bachelor's degree in psychology.


Teaching will be given as lectures (10 hours) and seminars (10 hours) and requires active participation from all students. Students will required to work in groups and prepare presentations for the seminars related to topics discussed in lectures.

Attendance is compulsory in both seminars and lectures (80%) and participation in group presentations in the seminar is also part of the required Activity.

Compulsory tuition activities are valid for the 2 next semesters after approval date.


- Individual essay based (approximately 4000 words). This is a home exam and the problemformulation will be given 14 days before deadline. 

Hand essay in Inspera. The essay will consist of a possible research project based on the themes presented and discussed during the seminar.


Previous exams



Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your 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.

If only Norwegian students enroll in the course, the teaching and examination text may be given in Norwegian.

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

You can ask for an explanation of your grade in this course

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Candidates who resit exam to improve grade or have previous failed exam in course must take all parts of the exam again (both group presentation and reflection note).

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language


If only Norwegian students enrol in the course, the teaching and examination text may be given in Norwegian.