Gender, Race, Identity and Human Rights

The details
Human Rights Centre (Essex Law School)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
20 October 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA L32112 Gender and Sexuality Studies

Module description

This module will address key challenges for human rights across the developed and developing worlds. So-called identity politicking has emerged in the past 40 years as a prominent and deeply controversial phenomenon within most societies. It is undeniably true that many human rights violations specifically target groups perceived and ascribed identities.

We inhabit societies where intolerance of difference and diversity have become key challenges for the defence of human rights and the pursuit of social justice. The response to this has often involved targeted communities seeking protection from rights-based mechanisms. There exist many instruments within international human rights law that seek to protect and promote distinct communities of people. However, the rights-based approach to identity politicking raises many, difficult to answer, questions concerning the compatibility of rights-based approaches and identity-based politics. This module will provide an important opportunity for students to engage with this highly important area of theory and practice. The module will be taught over a single academic term. It will be multidisciplinary and will be delivered by colleagues across several academic departments.

Module aims

The module has a number of principal aims. These include,

1. Provide a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the complex relationship between identity and human rights.
2. To enable students to develop a sound understanding of the normative basis of rights-based approaches to so-called “identity politics”
3. To enable students to make informed connections between human rights principles and instruments and ongoing topical debates surrounding various aspects of identity.
4. To enable students to engage with issues of marginalisation and systemic discrimination within contemporary societies and develop a sound knowledge of the contribution human rights can play in challenging these wrongs.
5. To enable students to situate key debates surrounding identity-based rights claims within the wider human rights PGT syllabus.

Module learning outcomes

1. Gain satisfactory knowledge and understanding of the normative foundations of human rights and how these impact culturally based forms of identity.
2. Gain a satisfactory knowledge of core debates within and perspectives upon so-called “identity politics”.
3. Gain a satisfactory knowledge of the normative and legal basis to the protection of specific forms of identity within the international human rights system.
4. Gain a satisfactory knowledge of how human rights norms and legal instruments have developed to address identity-based forms of human rights violation.
5. Gain a satisfactory knowledge of core manifestations of identity—based rights claims on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, indigeneity, religious faith and conviction, native language, indigeneity, social class and disability.
6. Gain a satisfactory knowledge and understanding of intersectionality as it applies to identity and rights.
7. Gain a satisfactory knowledge and understanding of some of the core challenges which appeals to identity raise for the existing human rights regime.
8. Acquire an intellectual framework within which to situate and understand a range of contemporary debates and controversies within this area of study and practice.

Module information

The subject-matter of the module will be of particular interest to students from communities who have often directly experienced marginalisation and discrimination. By focusing so concertedly upon communities of people who experience ongoing human rights violations and social injustice, the module will provide an important component of the wider effort to de-colonise the human rights curriculum

The module comprises nine weeks, each of which focuses on key thematic aspects of importance to the wider challenges.

Indicative list of topics:

Introduction to identity politics, human rights and intersectionality
Race, ethnicity and human rights
Gender and human rights
LGBTQI+ and human rights
Language rights
Religious conviction as a form of identity
Indigenous peoples
Social class and human rights
Disability and human rights

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be taught via weekly 2-hour seminars. The module teaching team will upload all relevant teaching materials on Moodle. You will find reading lists, the textbook, weekly handouts or PPS notes on Moodle. The materials in question are designed both to help you navigate the material to be covered in the seminars and to equip you to analyse the required readings. You will be expected to have completed the required readings in advance of your seminars.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay (HU931 Gender Race Identity and Human Rights)    100% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Andrew Fagan, email:
Law Education Office,



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 22 hours, 18 (81.8%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
2 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

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