Freedom of Religion and the Rights of Minorities in International Law

Module code: LLMP 5321

Module description

This 30 credit module has two distinct elements: one looking at the right to freedom of religion and the other focusing on minority rights. For both elements the emphasis is on how these rights are protected at the level of international and regional human rights instruments.

Freedom of religion has been described as 'one of the oldest and most controversial of all human rights', and its central position in Western liberal thought can be traced back centuries. It is now expressly recognized in every major international human rights instrument in addition to the vast majority of the world's constitutions. This module will examine the treatment of religious freedom in the major international law instruments, and it will explore the specific elements of that freedom - i.e. the right to believe, the right to maintain or change a religion, the right to manifest a religion or belief, and the issue of secularism.

The concept of minority rights in international law also pre-dates the modern concern with human rights, and this module will explore how that concept has evolved and what it means. Specific topics include: genocide, the right to exist, and cultural, religious and linguisitc rights.

Contact hours per student per year

  • Tutorial: 3 hours


  • Coursework 1: 40%
  • Coursework 2: 60%

Additional costs: Students may choose to purchase one or more textbooks relevant to the module. Students may also choose to attend the optional Study days and incur travel/accommodation costs.