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This course explores the rise of human rights discourse and its relationship to other discourses on suffering and social justice. It focuses on the experience of victims of human rights abuse and the politics of meaning. Students will engage in critiques of law as a reductionist discourse on the social by exploring the relationships between human rights and cultural differences such as gender, ethnicity, religion and indigenous cultures. The embodied self, social interdependency and the architecture of social institutions are the backdrop through which the course explores the tensions between universal and relativist understandings of human rights and their realization. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of human rights, the global human rights machinery, and the ethics of humanitarian intervention, and will consider how sociologists and anthropologists have studied and written about human rights.

Study Level


Offering Terms

Term 1



Delivery Mode

Partially online

Indicative contact hours


Conditions for Enrolment

Prerequisite: 48 UOC overall, including 6 UOC at level 1 and 6 UOC at level 2 in one of the following specialisations, Australian Studies, Development Studies, Global Development, or Sociology & Anthropology

Course Outline

To access course outline, please visit:


Pre-2019 Handbook Editions

Access past handbook editions (2018 and prior)

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