What is Human Rights Theory All About?

Human rights are a fundamentally important conceptual framework in international affairs in the 21st century. Human rights claims also influence domestic politics — in healthcare, the justice system, education, and welfare policy — and they figure in people’s ethical judgements and personal values.

The major in Human rights at Monash is interdisciplinary; it examines the history and the nature of human rights, and addresses basic issues such as: What are human rights? Are human rights culturally relative? How can human rights be justified? In completing the major you will examine how these issues relate to pressing practical problems, for instance, how an understanding of human rights helps to address issues such as global poverty, unequal access to medicine, refugees, terrorism, warfare, children’s rights, humanitarian intervention, torture, surveillance, and more.

The Human Rights major or minor is a natural complement to studies in law, criminology, journalism, international studies, politics, international relations, philosophy, history, development studies and sustainability. As a student of human rights you will acquire strong analytic abilities and communication skills, and will acquire expertise in areas that are of relevance to employers in the non-government organisation (NGO) sector, a wide variety of professions, and in the federal and state public service and their statutory authorities.


Teaching Staff for Human Rights Gateway Units 2016

HRT Profile Pic Dr Robbie Arrell
Unit coordinator and lecturer (from week 6 onwards) Human Rights 1
Email: robert.arrell@monash.edu / Website
Main areas of research: the ethics and politics of special associative duties
Simpson WordPress Pic Dr Bob Simpson
Convenor of Human Rights major, lecturer/coordinator Human Rights 2
Email: robert.simpson@monash.edu / Website
Main areas of research: free speech, liberal political theory
IMG_1763-e1345745257627 Dr John Thrasher
Lecturer for Human Rights 1 (weeks 1-5)
Email: john.thrasher@monash.edu / Website
Main areas of research: democratic theory, social norms

Structuring a Major or Minor in Human Rights

The requirements for a major or minor in Human Rights are detailed below. For further details about planning a major or minor, and for lists of units that can be studied as electives, see the Human Rights Area of Study page of the Monash Handbook. Alternatively, please don’t hesitate to email any questions you may have about the major or minor to the convenor of the human rights major, via arts-human-rights@monash.edu.

Major Requirements (48 points)

In order to complete a major sequence, students must complete

(a) Two Level 1 Gateway Units (12 points)

(b) At least one of the Level 2 Cornerstone Units (6 points), chosen from

(c) At least one of the Level 3 Capstone Units (6 points), chosen from

  • ATS3639 Poverty, Climate Change and International Justice
  • ATS3905 Democratic Theory

(d) Any other four units (24 points) from the remaining cornerstone and capstone units or the elective list (here), provided that at least two of these units are at level 3. No more than 12 points at level 1 may be credited to the major and at least 18 points must be at level 3.

Minor Requirements (24 points)

In order to complete a minor sequence, students must complete

(a) Two Level 1 Gateway Units (12 points)

  • ATS1314 Human Rights Theory 1
  • ATS1315 Human Rights Theory 2
  • Note: no more than 12 points at level 1 can be credited towards the minor

(b) Any two Level 2 or 3 units (12 points) listed within the major, either cornerstone/capstone units or electives. It is strongly recommended that students complete a second-year level unit before enrolling in any of the third-year level units.