nl en

Elective: Political Economy of Human Rights


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
The number of participants is limited to 25.


An ideal environment for the implementation of human rights is where those rights can be adequately acquired, and where society functions in a way that enables rights to be realised. This assumption implies a well-functioning legal system and a socio-political culture in which human rights have been well received. A structural support exists to ensure rights are realised and to provide compensation for victims in times of violations. In the real world, however, the international endeavour for human rights suffers from a huge deficit that tends to be disguised in the general euphoria of human rights’ declarations, conferences, committee meetings and workshops. They do not directly matter for the rights-holders, especially those who are suffering from abuses of power while supposed to be protected from daily hardships resulting from unjust manifestations of power.

The focus of this seminar is to explore the ways in which the rhetoric of human rights has evolved and how it has been defended and to contrast these themes with political economy realities that structurally contribute to (non-)realisations from an interdisciplinary point of view. Emphasis is placed on human rights as an ethical and political framework for public policy rather than a system of international law. Drawing on philosophical debates as well as historical and contemporary cases from Asia and around the world, the seminar will survey state and non-state actors in various capacities and domains, such as law making, war making, development and governance, and natural resource management. The seminar will apply a critical approach to human rights by addressing how the promotion of human rights is connected to the structure of bureaucracy, the forces of capital, and the existing socio-cultural norms and values.

Course objectives

The Electives for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the multidisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral and written presentation skills:

1. To explain clear and substantiated research results.
2. To provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course:

  • in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;

  • in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;

  • using up-to-date presentation techniques;

  • using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;

  • aimed at a specific audience.
    3. To actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:

1. To be socio-communicative in collaborative situations.
2. To provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position.
3. To adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:

1. To collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques.
2. To analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability.
3. To formulate on this basis a sound research question.
4. To design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved.
5. To formulate a substantiated conclusion.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the Midterm Exam week. This includes supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 10 EC (1 EC = 280 hours), which equals 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending seminars (2 hours per week x 12): 24 hours

  • Reading literature and preparing for class: 96 hours

  • Preparation for assignments and presentation: 60 hours

  • Writing the final research essay: 100 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
Presentation 20%
Assignments 30%
Final Research Essay (5,000 words) 50%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the End Grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components.


Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the Final Essay on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the Final Essay.
In case of resubmission of the Final Essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the Essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the Final Essay.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2018 – 2019.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for the seminars. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

There will be no textbook for this seminar, but reading materials will be accessible via Leiden University Library or made available on Blackboard.


Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 3 December:

1) On 3 December you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
2) Indicate there which are your 5 preferred Electives, in order of preference.
3) Based on preferences indicated by 16 December the Electives Coordinator will assign you to one specific Elective by 15 January.
4) Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
5) All students are required to enroll for their group in Blackboard to access all course information.

Students cannot register in uSis for the Elective, or be allowed into an Elective in any other way.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. I. Hadiprayitno

When contacting your lecturer, please include your full name, student number, and tutorial group number.


The deadline for submission of the Final Essay is 14 June 2019.