Liberalism, Modernity and Globalisation (823M9)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

Human rights are considered by many to be the core element of modern liberalism. It is certainly the case that there has been a significant growth of rights claimed and granted since the 17th century. In this module we shall explore the role of rights in the emergence of modern liberalism, consider its development and transformation and analyse the relationship between rights and other important components of the liberal conception of the good life such as democracy, liberty, equality, justice, the rule of law and self-determination. In the last part of the module we shall look into the problematic of globalisation and consider whether the process of internationalisation of rights, which has been very much part of this process, has significantly affected both the nature of rights and the nature of the international order. 

In our study we shall try to locate the thought and discourse of human rights within its historical context and pay particular attention to the link between human rights discourse and social struggles. We shall try to establish what are the potentialities of human rights for generating social change and for that purpose we shall analyse not just the emancipatory and transformatory potentialities of human rights, but also their usage in enhancing the power of the already powerful, including the various institutions of the modern state. Thus it will be important to look at the most powerful critiques of human rights and consider not just what rights can achieve but also what are their limitations.


100%: Seminar


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2020/21. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: