LAW 2513 - Human Rights:International & National Perspectives

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2017

The aim of this course is to have students consider the legal, philosophical and sociological underpinnings of human rights; students will be encouraged to think critically about the views they hold and the values reflected in the Australian and international legal systems. The course will focus on the United Nations and its role in formulating, interpreting and monitoring human rights. A further component of the course will be the protection of human rights in Australia.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2513
    Course Human Rights:International & National Perspectives
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 2085
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description The aim of this course is to have students consider the legal, philosophical and sociological underpinnings of human rights; students will be encouraged to think critically about the views they hold and the values reflected in the Australian and international legal systems. The course will focus on the United Nations and its role in formulating, interpreting and monitoring human rights. A further component of the course will be the protection of human rights in Australia.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Laura Grenfell

    Telephone: (08) 831 35777
    Office: Room 3.27, Ligertwood Building.
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    Students successfully completing this course will be able to:

    (1) Explain and assess the various theories proposed as the basis for the protection of human rights

    (2) Read and analyse primary sources ie. treaties and cases, with an understanding of the system of public international law and domestic public law

    (3) Read, synthesise, analyse and evaluate secondary materials with a critical understanding of the principles of human rights law;

    (4) Understand and assess the structure, major institutions and jurisprudence of the international human rights system;

    (5) Communicate clearly and concisely in written form;

    (6) Communicate orally about principles of human rights law, and;

    (7) Understand social and cultural diversity and the operation of Australian human rights law and public international law in that context.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Course Reader for Human Rights Law 2017 (Available on myuni/Canvas)
    Recommended Resources

    Philip Alston and Ryan Goodman, International Human Rights (OUP 2013).

    Note that this is a large book and very expensive. It can be purchased at Unibooks and all major bookstores. The Law Library has multiple copies available for loan and on reserve.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    This course will be taught in three-hour weekly classes. This three-hour block will include some lecture material, some discussions and various activities to engage student learning. The method of teaching will be highly interactive, with students expected to participate. There will be some opportunities for students to lead discussions, as well as group exercises.

    It is expected that the relevant reading materials will be read (thoroughly) prior to each class.

    Class attendance is critical to your learning in this course. The communication skills developed in class by regularly and actively participating in discussions are considered to be most important by the School and are highly regarded by employers and professional bodies.

    As a result of the some public holidays, the course will take place from weeks 1-13 of the semester.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    In addition to attending formal classes it is anticipated that students will do substantial independent work to prepare for classes and to complete the course assignments. The University expects full time students (those undertaking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies.
    Learning Activities Summary

    Tentative schedule:

    Week 1
    Introduction to Human Rights Law

    Week 2
    Cultural Relativism, and the Meaning and Use of Human Rights Law

    Introduction to Human Rights Law #2

    Week 5
    The International Covenant on Civil and POlitical Rights (ICCPR)

    Week 6
    the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    Week 7
    Case Study (TBA)

    Week 8
    Australian and the Twin Covenants

    Week 9
    The Universal Periodic Review

    Week 10
    The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    Week 11
    The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

    Week 12
    International criminal courts and HUman Rights Law

    Week 13
    Critiquing Human Rights Law

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    1. Compulsory Assessment item: Class Participation

    Percentage of final mark:  10%

    Dates:  Continuous

    Length: N/A

    Redeemable? No

    2. Compulsory Assessment Item: Legal Reflections on Selected Current News items

    percentage of final mark: 20% (2 x 10%)

    Date due: Monday 10 April 2017

    Length: 2 x 500 words (no footnotes)

    Redeemable?: No

    3. Compulsory Assessment Item: Essay Option or Presentation Option

    Percentage of final Mark: 70%

    Due Date: Monday 12 June 2017

    (19 June 2017 for Presentation Option)

    Length: 3000 words

    (Presentation Option: 2000 wds +written reflection + visual material)

    Redeemable?: No

    Assessment Detail

    Part 1 - Participation (10%)

    Students must:

    ¨ Attend at least 9 of 12 teaching weeks (unless you are excused for medical or other serious personal reasons. Students will be penalised 5% of the overall mark for non-attendance of the minimum number. Work commitments will not be considered an excuse to avoid this penalty.)

    ¨ Participate in the seminar discussion. It is not expected that all comments are ‘correct’, but participation must be based on your reflective reading of the course materials.

    The assessment of participation aims to assess the following course aims: Knowledge, Intellectual and Social Skills, Attitudes and Values.

    Seminar questions over the semester are designed to improve students’ ability to critically engage with Human Rights Law. Participation marks provide a basis for assessing students’ ability to intelligently discuss and debate Human Rights Law. Participation marks chiefly assess students’ oral communication skills and seminar preparation. There will be extensive use of small group discussions, to encourage students to work co-operatively together in groups, and participation marks will be awarded on the basis of contribution to small group discussion as well as participation in the larger class.

    A guide to the award of participation marks is as follows:

    Zero (0) – no evidence of preparation or contribution to small group or larger class discussion

    Poor (1-4) – evidence of some preparation but no or very little contribution to small group or larger class discussion; poor quality of contribution displaying little understanding of the issues and demonstrating poor oral communication and legal skills.

    Good (5-7) – evidence of good preparation, active contribution to small group discussion; contribution of a quality that displays a reasonable to good understanding of the law, and good oral communication and legal skills.

    Excellent (7.5-10) – evidence of thorough preparation, active contribution to small group discussion and participation in the larger class; high level understanding of the law and critical analysis, evidence of excellent oral and legal skills.

    Part 2 - Legal reflection on current news (20%)

    Students must submit 2 x 500 word reflections on how human rights law relates to 2 current news items. Students must attach a copy of a newspaper article that discusses the news items.

    The reflection can be written through dot points but it must include legal analysis of the current news item by considering the relevant primary sources of human rights law (eg treaties and custom; Constitution, legislation and cases).

    Both pieces must be handed up by Monday the 10th April 2017. No footnoting or referencing is required.

    Part 3

    You have the following two choices for Part 3:

    (i) Research Essay Option (70%)

    A 3,000 word essay from a set list of topics provided at the beginning of the course.

    Essays must:

    Be submitted electronically via Turnitin by Monday 15 June 2015 at 2pm. This date is not negotiable. Students must retain a copy of the essay submitted. 

    Conform to the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (copies are available at the Library’s reserve desk – an electronic copy can be consulted at

    Conform to the Word Limit Policy

    Words in excess of the word limit will not be read. Note that substantive footnotes will be included in the word count.

    Conform to the Late Submission Policy

    Essays handed in after the due date will not be read or graded. Extensions are only available on medical or compassionate grounds (see below).

    Not have been previously submitted for any other course without prior approval from the course co-ordinator.

    Be adequately referenced. (A reduction of 5 percent will apply for inadequate referencing.)

    Be footnoted (substantive footnotes will be included in the word count)

    Be double-spaced and paginated

    Have a bibliography appropriate for the topic

    These requirements are non-negotiable.

    (ii) Presentation Option (70%)

    This option is for those students who would like to pick their own topic and present it to the class.

    Apart from making a presentation to the class, students must hand up a 2000 word paper on Monday the 22nd June 2015 at 2pm. Out of the 70%, this paper will be worth 50%. Please note that students writing this paper must follow all the directions re essays as outlined above.

    The Presentation

    The presentation option is designed to allow students to think more creatively about human rights law. Students are encouraged to think of various mediums for the presentation of their topic – video, roleplay, powerpoint presentation, overheads etc.

    Presentations can be done individually or in groups. Each individual presentation will take a maximum of 20 minutes. This means that if there is a group of 3 students for example, the group will be allocated an hour for its presentation. This time must be managed carefully: ¼ of the time must be put aside for class interaction.

    One week prior to the presentation the presenter(s) must hand up a one-page outline to the course co-ordinator in order to inform her of the proposed set-up.

    Students will receive 20% out of the 70% mark for this presentation:

    10% for a 1-2 page written reflection on the presentation, the skills involved and whether the criteria stated below were met. This should be submitted with the written paper upon submission.

    10% of the mark will be graded on the visual material used in the presentation (eg the powerpoint presentation, the overheads, the handouts etc.). This material should be submitted to the marker at the end of the presentation.

    Presentation Assessment Criteria:

    The topic should be of current interest;
    The presenter must adhere to the time restrictions and allocate 5 minutes to a form of class interaction;
    The presenter must make eye contact with the class;
    The presenter must use visual aids to assist the discussion of the topic eg video, powerpoint, overheads, handouts etc;
    The presenter must speak at a steady pace so that the presentation is easy to follow;
    The presenter must present the issues with clarity.
    The reflection piece must be a critical self-assessment as to whether these above criteria were met.

    2. General Assessment Criteria
    Depth of legal analysis and level of critical examination of the legal issues raised.
    Level of legal insight and innovative thought.
    Clarity of expression.
    Logical planning and sequence.
    Demonstrated understanding of the relevant legal material eg international conventions, jurisprudence of treaty bodies, legislation, cases.
    Correct application of relevant material, in particular the primary sources.
    Overall presentation, including grammar, spelling and punctuation.
    Use of resources in formulating the paper including proper acknowledgement and correct referencing.

    Essays will be graded as follows:

    Fail 0-49
    Does not address the question
    Does not develop coherent and rational arguments
    Demonstrates fundamental errors of understanding of key legal principles and concepts
    Minimal evidence of research to support argument
    Absence of legal analysis
    Demonstrates limited analytical and evaluative skills


    Pass 50-64%
    Adequate articulation of argument
    Demonstrates a basic understanding and application of analytic concepts and theoretical concepts
    Minimal adherence to citation style
    Adequate relevant research informing the argument
    Basic understanding of that reading
    Insufficient legal analysis
    Adequate skills in written expression and presentation

    Credit 65-74
    Demonstrates a high level of understanding of the relevant legal materials
    Shows a thorough understanding of relevant legal materials
    Demonstrates some critical legal thinking and evaluative skills
    Adequate legal analysis
    Adequate skills in written expression and presentation

    Distinction 75-84
    High standard of understanding of the relevant legal materials with some original and sophisticated perspectives
    High level of insight and legal analysis
    Broad ranging legal research skills
    Evidence of high level of critical legal thinking
    Well developed analytical and evaluative skills
    Developed skills in written expression and presentation

    High Distinction 85-100

    Outstanding level of understanding and interpretation

    Compelling, well-supported and tightly structured legal arguments

    Broad ranging research and original and sophisticated thinking

    Highly developed written communication skills
    Late Submission: 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc. Hard copy submissions made after 5.00pm on a Friday will be assumed to have been submitted on the next business day and will be penalised accordingly.

    Word Length: Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length or page limit) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 3,000, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 3001 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 3101 words long, etc). Words are calculated including all footnotes and headings within the text but excluding cover page information. Quotations and all referencing information are included in the word count.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    The centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    For more information please check out the Writing Centre website at

    Lex Salus Program

    Lex Salus was founded in 2013 by Adelaide Law School Wellbeing officers Ms Corinne Walding, Ms Kellie Toole and Dr Mark Giancaspro. Lex Salus is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at raising law student awareness of the importance of mental, physical and nutritional health across all year levels of the degree, and of the various counselling, disability and equity services both within and outside the University that can provide help. Research shows that law students, both in Australia and in many jurisdictions around the world, experience the highest levels of stress, anxiety and depression out of any other discipline. Many do not get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet or achieve a realistic work/life balance. Making matters worse, they are unwilling or afraid to speak up for fear of feeling 'weak' or because of the negative stigma that attaches to seeking help. Lex Salus is dedicated to tackling these problems head-on.

    Counselling Service

    The University Counselling Service provides a free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Counselling service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life. More information is available at
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Further information regarding the Law School Policies and Procedures in relation to Supplementary Assessment, Extensions, and Remarks etc can be found at:

    Plagiarism and other forms of cheating

    Plagiarism is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the Adelaide Law School Enrolment Guide, and should note in particular the sections relating to plagiarism, grievance procedures and academic conduct within the Law School and the University.

    Plagiarism is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Please be aware that “academic dishonesty” (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to refuse to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.