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Human Rights and Global Politics: History, Theory, and Politics


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact the co-ordinator of studies.


This seminar course examines the history and politics of modern international human rights norms and its contemporary implications to global politics and governance. The substantive content of the course is divided into three main parts. The first part deals with the political history, normative concepts, and social scientific issues pertaining to international human rights norms. The second part of the course addresses key important issues in the global politics of human rights and its relationship with global governance. Particularly, we examine topics that include the following: (1) international law and judicial politics; human rights and democratization; (3) transnational civil society; (4) global governance and the roles of the European Union and the United States; (5) justice and the global political economy; (6) and race, gender, and disability. The final part of the course tackles three recent cases: global war on drugs; the post-9/11 human rights situation; and human rights in the era of Trump. This is a reading-intensive seminar course. The successful completion of this course primarily depends on the student’s commitment to read all the required literature (and preferablt including the optional materials), to actively participate during class discussions through meaningful contributions, and to submit an insightful and relevant research paper.

Course Objectives

Students who finish this course will (a) gain specialist knowledge of the explanatory and normative theories, concepts, and history of international human rights; (b) acquire the necessary analytical skills that will be valuable in assessing the causes and consequences of human rights abuses; (c) be familiar with the contemporary public policy problems relating to human rights norm compliance; and (d) develop their writing and oral communication skills that are crucial for professional careers.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  1. Class Participation/Contributions in the Seminar Discussion - 15%
  2. Seminar Presentation: 15%
  3. Research plan/Final Paper Proposal: 20%
  4. Final Paper: 50%


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit is only available for students who submitted the final paper in the first instance and met the word count requirements but the substantive quality of the submitted output is insufficient.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The list of required and recommended readings will be announced on Brightspace at least one week before the start of the course, and subsequently during the course. Check Blackboard for timely information. Refer to the course syllabus.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable