Module Details

LW930-7-SP-CO: Public Policy And Economic, Social And Cultural Rights

Note: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

Year: 2016/17
Department: Law (School of)
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
Pre-requisites: LW906
Comments: Most students taking this module are enrolled in one of the School's Human Rights MAs or LLMs

Supervisor: Professor Paul Hunt
Teaching Staff: Professor Paul Hunt and others (TBC)
Contact details: School of Law, University of Essex; Email:

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

Policies concerned with resource generation, economic growth and welfare - such as taxation, budgets, and health and education policies - have a profound effect on economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights. International and domestic law provides valuable protections of ESC rights that can contribute to public policies and provide a framework for accountability where violations occur. The aim of this module is to give the student an understanding of the protection of ESC rights in and through public policies.

The module begins with a short critique of historical and contemporary developments in debates about the justiciability of ESC rights and the appropriate role of the policy-making arena. The module proceeds to examine the policy-making process in countries with diverse systems of government, and explores how ESC rights can be protected in this context. This is followed by an examination of budgets and ESC rights. From there, the module gives attention to contrasting economic theories that shape public policy, such as neoliberalism, and how they relate to ESC rights. The module then considers specific tools and techniques in policy-making. This includes established priority-setting concepts and tools such as cost-benefit analysis and rationing, and asks what a human rights-based approach to priority-setting looks like. The module also examines impact assessments and other forms of accountability.

The module looks primarily at national policy making processes. However, it also includes a focus on how ESC rights have been protected in the contexts of local government and other local authorities, as well as involvement of the private sector. The module concludes with a focus on globalisation, including the key institutions and actors affecting national and international policy making and how these are addressed within international law.

This course assumes a good understanding of ESC rights and is closely connected to LW906 Foundations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is a prerequisite for this course. The course outline must be read in conjunction with that of LW906

Learning and Teaching Methods

This module is taught over a period of 9 weeks, through two-hour long seminars.


100 per cent Coursework Mark


For students on the LLM in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Research Essay is the mode of assessment for this module. For students on other programmes, there will be a take-home exam to be completed over the March/April vacation.

Other information

A few students taking LW930 are invited to make short (10 minutes) prepared presentations to the class, drawing from their own professional experience concerning issues arising from the module.


  • Cottingham, J., Germain, A., Hunt, P., Use of Human Rights to Meet the Unmet Need for Family Planning, 380(9837) The Lancet (14 July 2012), pp. 172-180.
  • Hunt, P. Bueno de Mesquita, J., Lee, J-Y., Way, S-A, 'Implementation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights' in Rodley, N., Sheeran, S., (eds) Routledge Handbook of International Human Rights Law (Forthcoming).
  • Radhika Balakrishnan, Diane Elson and Raj Patel, Rethinking Macro Economic Strategies from a Human Rights Perspective 53 (2010) 27-36
  • Paul O'Connell The Death of Socio-Economic Rights The Modern Law Review 74 (2011) 532-554
  • Rory O'Connell, A. Nolan, C. Harvey, M. Dutschke, E. Rooney, Applying an International Human Rights Framework to State Budget Allocations: Rights and Resources (forthcoming, Jan 2014).
  • Alvarez Castillo, F., Sundari Ravindran, T. K., and de Pinho, H., 'Prioritisation', in Sundari Ravindran, T. K., and de Pinho, H.,(eds)., The Right Reforms? Health Sector Reforms and Sexual and Reproductive Health (University of Witwatersrand, 2005)
  • MacNaugton, G., Hunt, P., 'A Human Rights-based Approach to Social Impact Assessment' in Vanclay, E., Esteves, A. M., New Directions in Social Impact Assessment: Conceptual and Methodological Advances (Edward Elgar: 2012).

Further information