SOAS University of London

School of Law

Human Rights in The Developing World

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

In the first term, after a brief critical appraisal of the development of international human rights law since 1945, we consider possible justifications for offering a special module on human rights in the developing world, including an examination of the term ‘developing world’. 

We explore the ‘right to development’ in the context of increasing international economic regulation and consider the impact of globalisation, including an examination of the role of multi-national corporations in relation to both the abuse and promotion of human rights.

In the second term we explore the possibilities for human agency against the background of the structural constraints identified in the first term. We consider in particular the role of law and lawyers in social change. We ask whether rights ‘work’ and under what conditions, with particular reference to case studies from Africa and Asia on issues such as health, housing, and violence against women.

Finally, we take a special look at the debates surrounding the marginalisation of Africa and the possibilities for human agency for change.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Students will learn to master a set of analytical and conceptual tools for analysing the relationship between law and economic performance for economies in the European and non-European worlds from the colonial period through the era of globalisation.

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 40% (4000 words)
  • Presentation: 10%
  • Unseen written exam: 50%

Suggested reading

  • Steiner H. and Alston P.: International Human Rights in context, (2007), 3rd ed. Oxford


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules