Course Code : LAW 111

Course Title : Foundation in Human Rights

Weekly Teaching Hour: 1 (2-hour) lecture per week, 4 (1-hour) tutorials per week

Who may enrol : Compulsory course for year 1 (freshman) LLB students .

Prerequisites : No prerequisite required

Lecturer : To be announced on August 2020

Description : The primary aim of this course is to introduce students to the principal legal provisions protecting the human rights of British citizens and other persons resident in the UK.

The primary focus will therefore be fourfold:

  • first, the provisions of domestic statute and common law,
  • second, the provisions of EC/EU law and the impact of Brexit,
  • third, the Convention rights enshrined by the Human Rights Act 1998, and
  • fourth, the relevant jurisprudence of the European Convention on Human Rights.

By the end of the course, the students should be familiar with and able to apply the relevant provisions of domestic law, EC/EU law as currently relevant, and the Charter of Rights, the Human Rights Act and the ECHR to practical problems concerning a substantial range of the rights and liberties of British citizens.

Students should also be able to appreciate the role that domestic law, EC/EU law, the Human Rights Act and the ECHR play in providing legal protection for those rights and liberties and how each of these sources of law interact.

The students should also have a sound understanding of the significance of human rights and civil liberties within the legal, political and constitutional framework of the U.K.

They should also be able to conduct independent research at an appropriate level into a complex issue of civil liberties and human rights law.

During the course, you will be required to apply the various legal provisions to practical problems, to discuss the content and significance of the relevant legal principles and their rationales, and to discover the relationship between British and European law in this context.

You will also be required to conduct research and submit at least two formative, non-assessed, written assignments, on approved topics from within the syllabus.

Course Outline:


  • the theory and nature of and justifications for human rights;
  • cultural relativism v universalism; human rights and feminist theory;
  • civil and political rights, equality and non-discrimination rights,
  • social and economic rights, group/identity rights;
  • the various means of legal, administrative and
  • constitutional protection for human rights.

Traditional Legal Protection of Rights in UK: negative definition of freedom under the law, to do whatever is not legally prohibited.  Some specific common law and statutory protections for particular rights, but no overarching system of rights protection, nor any hierarchy of rights as more or less fundamental.

The formalistic rule of law requirements of legality and equality before the law, but few if any rights guaranteed against state erosion or abrogation by statute.

The judicial development of common law constitutional rights, protected from implied repeal by statute, under the Simms principle of legality.

The post-Human Rights Act continuing primary role of the common law and statute in ensuring the protection of both fundamental constitutional rights and Convention rights, under Osborn, and the continuing importance of common law and statutory constitutional fundamentals, under Jackson v A-G and  HS2 Action Alliance.

The European Convention on Human Rights:  history, institutions and procedures; the roles of the former commission, the court and the committee of ministers; relationship with domestic jurisdictions; relationship with EU; the substantive rights and freedoms (in outline); the obligation to secure the rights and provide effective domestic remedies; the right of individual petition and the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court; remedies available under just satisfaction; the application and enforcement of the decision of the Court and the remedies awarded; extra-territorial application of the Convention.

The Human Rights Act 1998: the history of and arguments surrounding incorporation; the degree and nature of incorporation of the ECHR; the relationship and integration with domestic civil liberties and constitutional rights law, including problems of inconsistency with statute; the impact of incorporation upon other areas of law, e.g. civil liability in tort: compliance with Article 13 by provision of effective domestic remedies; the nature of protection for “convention rights”; remedies. The arguments for and against repeal of the Human Rights Act and for its replacement with a “British Bill of Rights.”

Human Rights under Devolution: the incorporation of  ECHR rights under the devolution settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;  the subjection of the legislative powers of the devolved legislatures and executives to the limitations of the Convention rights; the role of the courts of the devolved nations and the role of the Supreme Court.

Human Rights post-Brexit: The distinctions between ECHR and EC/EU standards, scope and application of freedoms and rights, the Charter of Rights; ECJ/CJEU jurisprudence on the Charter and ECHR; the impact of Brexit.

ECHR Substantive Rights and Freedoms:  Clearly it will not be possible to study all of the Convention rights. Accordingly, a selection will be made from the following rights and freedoms, dependent upon teaching preferences and availability:

  • the right to life.
  • the freedom from torture, degrading and inhumane treatment.
  • the right to personal liberty, including freedom from involuntary servitude, forced labour, etc.
  • the right to fair trial, including the privilege against self-incrimination, the right to silence, the right not to be subject to retrospective crimes.
  • the right to privacy and family life.
  • freedom of conscience and religion.
  • freedom of expression.
  • freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
  • freedom from discrimination, or the right to equality.

In respect of each right or freedom, the course will examine both domestic law, including relevant EC/EU law and the Human Rights Act 1998, and Convention law and jurisprudence.

Social, Economic and Group Rights: developing theory and practice of social and economic rights and group rights.

International Human Rights law: United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, other international treaties on torture, refugees and asylum, women’s rights, children’s rights, rights of indigenous peoples, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Court, etc.

Recommended Textbook (s) and Supplementary Books :

  1. Fenwick, Civil Liberties and Human Rights, Cavendish, (5th ed), 2016
  2. Amos, Human Rights Law, (2nd ed), 2014, Hart Publishing
  3. Harris, O’Boyle and Warbrick, Law of the European Convention on Human Rights, (3nd ed, 2014) OUP
  4. Jacobs, White and Ovey, The European Convention on Human Rights, (6th ed), OUP, 2014
  5. The MTU digital library has an extensive collection of relevant materials on European Convention law and jurisprudence, on EC/EU law and on domestic civil liberties materials.
  6. Much of the relevant material is also available via the Internet.

Course Assessment:

  • Class Participation 10%,

  • Mid-term Examination 30%,

  • Assignments 10%,

  • Final Examination 50%,

Attendance 95 % compulsory.