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Transnational Politics of Human Rights (recommended for the Research Master)



Objective 1: This module is designed to introduce graduate students to important scholarly arguments and cutting-edge research findings on the transnational politics of human rights. In order to assess the validity of these arguments (i.e., the fit between their expectations and what happens in the real world), we will examine empirical findings based on both qualitative case studies and quantitative/statistical research techniques.
Objective 2: This course trains students to evaluate cutting-edge research on the politics of human rights, including scholarship using a wide variety of research methods.

Content: This course will focus on what social scientists have learned about the ‘human rights paradox’ – the fact that many states commit to protect human rights but many of them fail to fulfill those commitments. In the process, we will consider various arguments regarding why states (including those with ‘dirty hands’) commit to respect human rights, and when and why they are likely to fulfill these commitments. We will also consider the impact of human rights law on the behavior of non-state actors.

Methods of Instruction

This course will be conducted as a seminar, meaning that every student should come to class prepared to make a substantive contribution to discussion of the assigned readings, which are both numerous and intellectually demanding.

Study Material

The assigned readings represent state-of-the-art scholarship on the politics of human rights. Most are drawn from scholarly books and journals that can be found in the LU library’s electronic catalogue.


Grades for MSc students will be based on two critical reviews of assigned readings (each 5-6000 words, 40% of grade) plus consistent and informed participation in seminar discussions (20%). Students from the Research Masters will also submit a research design on a topic of their choice based on the seminar readings; their grade formula will be: two critical reviews (25% each), research design (30%), and participation (20%).


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