Human Rights

Nelson Mandela University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Human Rights

  • Host University

    Nelson Mandela University

  • Location

    Port Elizabeth, South Africa

  • Area of Study

    African Studies, Development Studies, Ethics, History, Human Rights, Social Policy

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • US Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    Human Rights play an important role in our modern globalised world and are recognised as integral to social change. They affect individuals and societies alike and raise a number of issues that are neither simple nor clear. The various debates regarding human rights will be contextualised within South Africa’s history. This programme introduces students to human rights related discourses in a social science context. The universal and cultural specific dimensions of human rights will be explored through exploration of human rights in relation to social and cultural diversity and their local and global contexts, with an emphasis on Africa. Students will learn to apply various human rights perspectives to selected human rights issues.

    The programme will expose students to the debates pertaining to human rights abuse nationally and internationally. Various charters, constitutions and bills of rights are analysed with reference to their applicability within South Africa and Africa. The universality of human rights are discussed. Lectures are facilitated by Nelson Mandela University academics. The programme consists of theoretical and practical aspects that are interactive. Thorough lecture preparation and active participation will ensure an optimum learning experience.


    On completion of this programme students will obtain:

    • An understanding that human rights practices and institutions are the result of historical processes of social transformation; 
    • A critical insight into the theoretical grounding of human rights and the human rights discourse in the 20th century;
    • A critical understanding of how the theoretical underpinnings of human rights translate into practice; 
    • The ability to identify and critically analyse key human right issues and debates and clarify fundamental human rights debates through critical thinking and reasoning; 
    • The ability to contribute to the development of a human rights culture and make justifiable decisions in ambiguous situations.


    There are two assessments: portfolio and presentation. The final mark for the module will be determined as follows:

    • 60% of the final mark will come from the portfolio;
    • 30% of the final mark will come from the presentation;
    • 10% will be awarded for attendance of lectures and participation in discussions.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.