LLAW6242 & JDOC6242

General Course Information

1.1 Course details

Course code: LLAW6242 / JDOC6242
Course name: Human Rights in Practice
Programme offered under: LLM Programme / JD Programme
Semester: Second
Prerequisites / Co-requisites: No
Credit point value: 9 credits / 6 credits
Cap on student numbers: 24

1.2 Course description

The Human Rights in Practice course enables students to discover how human rights lawyers, advocates, and practitioners engage with human rights issues both domestically and internationally, through experiential learning. Students will engage substantively with different areas of international law and collaborate with select community partners on human rights projects. Students will explore and experience first-hand the relationship between international human rights law and the Hong Kong legal system.

The course seeks equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the changing global legal environment by providing opportunities to work on cutting-edge international legal issues while serving the community.

The course aims to:

  1. Expose students to the challenges and skills of acting in the role of a lawyer within the unstructured situations that international human rights lawyers confront in practice;
  2. Expand opportunities for collaborative experiential learning;
  3. Instruct students in the theory and practice of domestic and international human rights law, as well as comparative legal analysis;
  4. Give students an opportunity to practice their professional skills and ethics;
  5. Encourage students to identify and provide service for unmet legal needs;
  6. Encourage critical analysis of the law, the relationship between international and domestic legal systems, and the different roles within legal systems; and
  7. Provide students an opportunity to evaluate the real-life application and effects of international human rights instruments, as well as contribute to the promotion, progressive enforcement, and internalization of international human rights.

Specific skills taught include design of community legal education materials; collaborative and community-based lawyering; domestic and international legal research and analysis, including comparative legal research; human rights research; and legal writing.

1.3 Course teachers

Name E-mail address Office Consultation
Course convenor Stephanie Biedermann sbied@hku.hk CCT 802 By email

Learning Outcomes

2.1 Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) for this course

At the conclusion of this course, students should be able to:

CLO 1 Evaluate, present, and discuss the real-life application and effects of international human rights law.

CLO 2 Conduct research, individually and in teams, on case-specific themes and country situations, through a variety of media and sources, including web-based resources.

CLO 3 Understand, and be able to analyze, the application of international human rights instruments in specific situations, as well as across different jurisdictions.

CLO 4 Explain to a layperson the sources of law in Hong Kong and/or other identified jurisdictions which provide for identified human rights and the available enforcement measures to ensure those rights.

CLO 5 Draft a substantive legal document relevant to the work of their partner organization(s); examples include a detailed topical report, case summary, legal research memorandum, training manual, briefing paper, etc.

CLO 6 Reflect critically on and take action to advance a) the theory and practice of human rights in Hong Kong and/or other identified jurisdictions, b) the development of their professional skills and ethics, c) the nature of the lawyer-client relationship, and d) the value of pro bono service.

CLO 7 Demonstrate the communication skills of listening, questioning, and interviewing, including empathetic and careful listening and skillful questioning both with and without the use of an interpreter.

CLO 8 Identify issues and conduct legal research, fact investigation, analysis and writing relevant to the practice of international human rights law (related to the legal and factual issues of a topic arising in the work and context of a partner organization).

CLO 9 Recognize challenges in human rights practice, creatively identify options, execute their own judgment, and understand the impact of their decisions.

CLO 10 Reflect constructively on the dynamics involved in building and sustaining relationships with partners in a variety of situations.

Additional learning outcomes, which are specific to each project, will be identified in the individual project work plans.

2.2 LLM and JD Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Please refer to the following link:

LLM – https://course.law.hku.hk/llm-plo/

JD – https://course.law.hku.hk/jd-plo/

2.3 Programme Learning Outcomes to be achieved in this course

PLO A PLO B PLO C PLO D PLO E PLO F
CLO 1
CLO 2
CLO 3
CLO 4
CLO 5
CLO 6
CLO 7
CLO 8
CLO 9
CLO 10

Assessment(s)

3.1 Assessment Summary

Assessment task Due date Weighting Feedback method* Course learning outcomes
Class contribution and participation TBA 15% 2, 3, 4, 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Project plan, midterm writing exercise, presentation TBA 35% 2, 3, 4, 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Final written work product for partner organization TBA 50% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
*Feedback method (to be determined by course teacher)
1 A general course report to be disseminated through Moodle
2 Individual feedback to be disseminated by email / through Moodle
3 Individual review meeting upon appointment
4 Group review meeting
5 In-class verbal feedback

3.2 Assessment Detail

We will discuss each assessment area in more detail during class. Rubrics and additional guidelines will be available as assignments are formulated and projects’ scopes defined.

Final written work products will vary based on the specific project for each student and/or student group. Students will work with their community partner(s), their groupmates (if any) and the course instructor to identify the final written work product. Examples of final written work products include: a comparative legal analysis/report; human rights dissertation; a personal narrative/testimony with an accompanying legal analysis; legal manuals; legal education curriculum with an accompanying legal memo/appendix; fact-finding reports; creation of an online legal database; and online human rights investigation and analysis (among others).

3.3 Grading Criteria

Students will be assessed on a pass/fail basis.

Even without letter-grade assessment, this course is a serious commitment. Students should understand that they will be doing real work for community partner(s), and thus professional ethics and responsibility are crucial components of this course.

Students must prepare in advance, attend meetings with outside partners, and arrive on time for meetings (whether in-person or via Zoom). Students are expected to be proactive in their own learning experience and in the service they provide to their community partners. This includes, but is not limited to: scheduling meetings with groupmates and community partner(s) outside of class time as necessary; maintaining good communication with course instructor, groupmates, and outside partner(s) about each project and its development; identifying and initiating necessary project-related research; conducting additional background research on international human rights and/or Hong Kong law if any students are not already familiar with the international human rights framework and/or Hong Kong law. Students should expect to spend approximately 9-10 hours per week on work for this course on average, with some weeks requiring more than 10 hours of work.

Meetings and other project-related collaboration may be in-person or remotely-based, depending on circumstances, availability, and any relevant COVID-19-related guidelines and/or restrictions. These parameters will be mutually agreed between students and their community partners as necessary, with the approval of the course instructor.

Learning Activities

4.1 Learning Activity Plan

Lecture: 3 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks
Private study and/or project working time 9-10 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks

Remarks: the normative student study load per credit unit is 25 ± 5 hours (ie. 150 ± 30 hours for a 6-credit course), which includes all learning activities and experiences within and outside of classroom, and any assessment task and examinations and associated preparations.

4.2 Details of Learning Activities

This is an experiential learning course. Students in this course are expected to engage with community partners, be proactive, and to deliver a practical and high-quality work product/service to the community partner.

Students are in this course are expected to:

  • have a strong understanding of the international human rights law framework and theories prior to enrolling in this course (or be willing to do additional background reading/investigation);
  • take ownership of their project(s);
  • work collaboratively to deliver high-quality work products in collaboration with community partner organizations; and
  • be proactive, self-reflective, self-motivated, and able to work independently.

Details of specific potential projects and community partners TBA soon.

Learning Resources

5.1 Resources

Reading materials: Reading materials are posted on Moodle
Core reading list: TBA
Recommended reading list: TBA

5.2 Links

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/learning-resources/