Human Rights from a Historical and History-of-ideas Perspective 3360


The course provides students with an introduction to human rights in theory and practice. Ideas regarding human rights are examined from historical, history-of-ideas and philosophical perspectives. The actualisation and implementation of human rights in our times will be discussed in the light of specific questions related to international law, freedom of speech, religion, terrorism, women and children, international trade and business and punishment. The course will consider the idea of universal human rights from a critical perspective. The general aims of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the idea regarding human rights, its historical premises and foundation, so as to be able to examine the idea in a critical light.

The course may form a component in a Bachelor’s Degree within the subjects, political science, history of ideas, history and philosophy.


The course commences with a description of its contents and a delimitation of the concept, human rights, among other things, by discussing central documents, primarily the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The relationship between the idea concerning human rights, its articulation in laws and treaties and the political implementation of human rights in practice will be discussed. Further, the idea behind human rights will be discussed from political, philosophical and moral-philosophical perspectives. The course will provide insight into the history of ideas’ background of human rights, and the development of the idea regarding human rights, and consider central historical breaches of human rights. Subsequently, the idea regarding universal human rights will be problematised from a history-of-ideas and historical perspective and in the context of the world’s diversity of cultures and traditions. From a contemporary-historical perspective, human rights will be discussed, as well as their implementation, in relation to central questions and themes related to, amongst other things, international conventions and international law, freedom of speech and its limitations, religion and religious practice, protection against terrorism, traditional oppression and vulnerable groups (women, children), international trade and business and punishment.

Arbeids- og læringsformer

Lectures, seminars and group work.


The continuous assessment comprises written examinations and/or one or several assignments which together will count for 40% of the final grade. The 3-hour final examination counts for 60% of the final grade. Both the continuous assessment and the final examination must receive passing marks in order to receive a passing grade for the course. Graded marks.

Minor adjustments may occur during the academic year, subject to the decision of the Dean

Det tas forbehold om mindre justeringer i planen.

Publisert av / forfatter Per Esko Hestetun <>, sist oppdatert av Eline Flesjø - 15.02.2013