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Security and Rights




Admissions requirements

Introduction to Socio-Legal Studies


Human rights are not fixed. As people face new opportunities and challenges their preferences evolve, as do their perceptions about what it is that might prevent them from realising their autonomy and dignity. So people make claims about what they should be entitled to: what they see as their rights. Security, likewise, is an idea in flux. While it used to refer mainly to nation-states, today we are speaking of human security, environmental security, food security and cybersecurity, to mention but a few areas.

What happens when ideas about rights meet ideas about security? How is the language of rights used by people who find themselves in situations deemed unfavourable? What will materialise when the practice of rights encounter other ways of seeing a given situation, including in terms of security? Whose story will prevail?

These are central questions to Security and Rights. In the course we will examine ideas about rights and security, as well as how rights are practiced and law is mobilised by social movements that seek to change structures and widely held beliefs in society. We will further explore how the issue of cross-border migration is framed, in terms of either rights or security. We will look at how immigrant rights movements and counter-movements pursue their advocacy, and how litigation feeds into their agendas regarding how migration should be seen and managed. This will feed back into the broader discussion of what rights and security are, and how law can be a resource that contributes to build identities while also making up a site of contestation.

Part I: Ideas and practices of rights and security

  • Ideas about law and rights

  • Ideas about security

  • Securitisation

  • Social movements and the practice of rights

  • Litigation as a movement strategy

Part II: Encounters between rights and security in cross-border migration

  • Refugees and other migrants: History, trends and frameworks

  • Migration as a rights issue

  • Migration as a security issue

  • Immigrant rights movements and counter-movements

  • Litigation on the rights of refugees and other migrants

Part III: Problem-based learning.

Course objectives

Having successfully completed the course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the internal logics of rights;

  • Discuss how ideas about rights operate in a social context and under what conditions such ideas are likely to prevail and resonate among citizens;

  • Account for how and why ideas about security are used in the public debate, and what impact the framing of an issue in terms of security is likely to have;

  • Explain how social movements use ideas about rights and security to make claims about how society should be organised, in particular in the field of migration; and

  • Apply ideas about rights, security and social movements in attempts to address specific problems.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Seminars will generally include a lecture and discussion centred on core readings, as well as other learning activities such as roundtable debates. Beyond class, students will be expected to further reflect on issues raised in the course and on your process of learning in an online journal.

In the final weeks of the course, a problem-based learning exercise will allow students to apply and further develop your knowledge in an attempt to address a specific problem. In the PBL, groups of students will first be given two sets of photos and asked to pick one. Examining that set, you will identify what the problem is and how to address and solve it. Each group will later present your identified problem and solution(s) in class, and spell these out in more detail in a joint paper.


  • Problem-based learning exercise, presentation: 15%, joint paper: 20%;

  • Roundtable debates: 10%;

  • Journal: 15%; and

  • Exam: 40%.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

The list of readings will be made available upon commencement of the course.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr Ingrid Samset: