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10cp from 200-level unit in Philosophy

Unit rationale, description and aim

The unit serves an important role in introducing students to significant moral debates confronting society, providing them with an opportunity to explore influential perspectives regarding those debates and enabling them to develop a reasoned position of their own.

Students examine a selection of some of the most difficult moral and conceptual problems regarding the domain of human rights and applied ethics, including the justification of human rights, their scope, and controversies regarding the application of human rights. Students will consider a range of perspectives and arguments put forward by contemporary moral and legal philosophers with respect to key moral issues in contemporary society.

The unit’s aim is to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to engage articulately in constructive moral dialogue relevant to human rights matters and to assist them to develop and enhance critical thinking skills important across a range of occupations and professions. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Explain some of the key dimensions of the contemporary moral problems explored in the unit, and some key scholarly responses to these problems (GA1, GA5)

LO2 - Critically analyse selected debates in contemporary applied ethics, and develop coherent and consistent positions in relation to them (GA3, GA4, GA8)

LO3 - Demonstrate appropriate skills in philosophical research, and clear use of philosophically effective English expression (GA5, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


The selection of contemporary moral problems to be investigated will be chosen by the lecturer, on the basis of matters of contemporary relevance drawn from areas such as the following:

  • the ethics of war and conflict and their relationship to human rights;
  • the justification and classification of human rights;
  • the ethics of family and sexuality and the human rights related to these topics;
  • human rights in relation the functioning of the law and punishment;
  • rights to free expression;
  • rights to a liveable environment;
  • ethical issues regarding the distribution of resources;
  • human rights and their connection to  human dignity, death, and dying;
  • the human rights of vulnerable and minority groups;
  • rights to compensation and rectification of historical injustice;
  • human rights to healthcare and other bioethical issues.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in Semester attendance mode and involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

The unit has been designed as a blend of collaborative learning along with direct instruction. The direct instructions ensures that students develop a comprehensive understanding of important philosophical concepts and theories, while the collaborative learning enables the students to think critically and reflectively about how those concepts and theories are employed.

These forms of classroom instruction and engagement are designed to support students’ attainment of the learning outcomes. Students will be asked to engage in class discussions, provide written critiques of significant theories, and present their reasoned opinion on distinct philosophical positions, after being introduced to them through readings and lectures.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy for this unit in philosophy is designed to facilitate the structured attainment of important concepts and theories along with a deepening of students’ ability to analyse and critically reflect on those concepts and the debates surrounding them. Both cooperative/discussion-based and individual projects will be assessed. The discussion-based project, such as the oral presentation, provides a venue for the exchange and comparison of ideas. The individual, written analysis component along with the essay component provides students with the opportunity to develop their philosophical views and demonstrate an understanding of important concepts and philosophical theories. It also enables them to demonstrate the attainment of discipline specific skills. 

As described below, a range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. Such procedures may include, but are not limited to: essays, reports, examinations, student presentations or case studies.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written analysis task

(Requires students to demonstrate understanding of key concepts and debates).


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA9

Oral presentation with written component

(Requires students to demonstrate critical thinking skills in dialogue with others). 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Argumentative/Research Essay

(Requires students to critically analyse an important debate in the field and to develop a coherent position).


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Cruft, R. and Liao, M. (eds.) (2015). Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford University Press.

Goodhart, M. (ed.) (2022). Human Rights: Theory and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Gould, C. (2004). Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights. Cambridge University Press.

Hinman, L. (ed.) (2013). Contemporary Moral Issues: Diversity and Consensus. London: Routledge. 

Metz, T. (2010). “Human Dignity, Capital Punishment, and an African Moral Theory: Toward a New Philosophy of Human Rights,” Journal of Human Rights, 9:1, 81-99.

Nickel, J. (2007). Making Sense of Human Rights. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Okin, S. (1998). “Feminism, Women’s Human Rights, and Cultural Differences,” Hypatia, 13: 32–52.

Wellman, C.(2010). The Moral Dimensions of Human Rights. Oxford University Press.

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