Legal Philosophy and Human Rights


An examination of the theories and concepts which underpin law, with further detailed consideration of Human Rights Law.


The aim of this Module is to develop the student's understanding of the theories and concepts which underpin law, and the application of Human Rights Law.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.   Analyse the development of the Western legal tradition and fundamental legal concepts.

2.  Critically evaluate different schools of thought within the Western Legal Tradition

3.  Understand and critically apply the principles of Human Rights law

4.  Demonstrate higher level legal writing skills and apply legal skills and knowledge in a practical and theoretical context

5.  Demonstrate oral skills and knowledge in a practical and theoretical context through debating contested and conflicting philosophical views

Indicative Content

1 Fundamental Legal Concepts

Law, the State and the individual; law and other disciplines; the role of lawyers, rule of law; concepts of rights and justice

2 Development of the Western Legal Tradition

Global legal systems; the Western Legal Tradition;natural law theories; the Utilitarians; Kant; Marx

3 Legal Theories of the 20th Century

Legal theories of the 20th century: American realism; legal positivism; liberalism; legal sociology; critical legal theory, feminism and race; post-modernism

4 Human Rights

UN Human Rights instruments; The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; The Scotland Act 1998; The Human Rights Act 1998; the impact of human rights law in Scotland and the UK

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The module is delivered through interactive lectorials and tutorials, where students are actively encouraged to participate in the learning experience. Lectorials are delivered via a mixture of traditional lectures and more active class-based activities, such as problem solving and discussion exercises. Tutorials are student led. They require students to conduct hands-on literature searches and present and discuss their findings. The units of assessment require judgement, critical analysis and synthesis of ideas from disparate areas, building on up to date legal academic commentary and case law, which the students have to research, acknowledging multiple perspectives, and engaging with contested knowledge.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 26
Tutorial/Seminar 13
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 40
Independent 121

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.