Module Details

HU902-7-SP-CO: Human Rights Clinic

Year: 2017/18
Department: Human Rights Centre
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Dr Patricia Palacios Zuloaga
Teaching Staff:
Contact details: School of Law, University of Essex. Telephone: 01206 874325; Email:

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This module is concerned with the practice of human rights, and is linked to the Human Rights Centre Clinic. It will develop students' ability to critically evaluate - and effectively engage with - some of the principal forums available to human rights practioners, as well as providing students with the skill set necessary to work as human rights professionals.

The module focuses on engaging the UN human rights mechanisms. This is prioritised for two reasons. First, these mechanisms are key - often underutilised - components of a human rights professional's toolkit. An ability to critically evaluate the UN human rights mechanisms coupled with a comprehensive understanding of how to effectively engage these mechanisms will be of significant long-term benefit to students. Second, focusing on the UN human rights mechanisms provides a means of teaching the essential skills necessary to work as a human rights professional: all skills learned are directly transferrable. For instance, an ability to interview victims (and an understanding of the issues arising in in this regard) is relevant both to the preparation of an individual communication and to human rights documentation more broadly. Similarly, the skills necessary to prepare effective Human Rights Council or Treaty Monitoring Body submissions are equally relevant to all written publications. As such, the UN human rights mechanisms are used as a means of teaching the more general skills essential to a human rights practitioner, while at the same time ensuring that students obtain an in-depth knowledge of key human rights mechanisms from both an academic and practical perspective.

Students taking this course are required to participate in the Human Rights Centre Clinic. All Clinic projects will focus on engaging the UN human rights mechanisms, and so by combining this module with the Clinic, students are provided with the opportunity both to learn about these mechanisms, and to apply this knowledge through actual engagement.

Learning and Teaching Methods

This course consists of both a teaching and clinical component.

The teaching component is comprised of a weekly lecture and class during the Spring Term. Lectures are divided into two components, addressing (a) the theory and (b) the practice relevant to the mechanism in question. The theory component focuses upon critical assessment through discussion and engagement with the academic literature; a key objective is the development of student's understanding vis-à-vis the effectiveness of the mechanism, its impact, its relationship to other human rights mechanisms, and opportunities for development or reform. The practice component addresses actual engagement with the mechanism, looking at best practice, lessons learned, and so on. Classes follow the weekly lecture and last for one hour. They provide students with an opportunity to discuss issues arising in relation to either the weekly lectures or clinical activity.

The clinical component runs from the end of October until the end of June. Students will divided into project teams of approximately 4-6 students, and will work towards delivery of identified project outputs (all outputs will be directed towards effectively engaging UN human rights mechanisms). During the Autumn Term students will participate in a two hour 'All Clinic' meeting with the Clinic Director every two weeks. The All Clinic meetings consist of a mix of customised training sessions and discussion, wherein issues arising in relation to specific projects will be addressed. During the Spring Term the All Clinic meetings will be incorporated into the weekly class. All Clinic meetings will then resume on a two weekly basis from after the Spring break until the end of June. Throughout the year students are also required to participate in a one hour project team meeting each week. These meetings are convened in order to plan and coordinate the research, drafting, and delivery of the project output.


100 per cent Coursework Mark


5000 word reflective report

Further information

External Examiner Information

  • Name: Dr Damien Short
    Institution: University of London (Institutes and activities)
    Academic Role: Reader, Director of the Human Rights Consortium