Introduction to Philosophy: Rights - PHIL3000

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Autumn Term 4 15 (7.5) Alexandra Couto checkmark-circle


This module provides an introduction to some of the key issues in the philosophy of law. All of the ideas discussed are linked by focusing on the notion of 'right'. Students will be exposed to a variety of questions and issues, such as: ‘What is a right?’, ‘Are there such things as natural rights?’, ‘Is there any absolute right?’, ‘What is involved in saying that one has a right to free speech or a right to private property?’, ‘Who has a right and why?’, ’Do future people have rights?’, ‘Do we have a right against social deprivation?’ and ‘Do children have a right to be loved?’..


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 (1,300 words) – 40%
Essay 2 (1,500 words) – 50%
Seminar Participation – 10%

Reassessment methods
This module will be reassessed by 100% coursework.
Reassessment Essay (2,500 words) – 100%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Liao, S. M. (2006), 'The Right of Children to be Loved', Journal of Political Philosophy, 14: 4, 420–440.
Singer P.(1989) 'All Animals are Equal', in Regan, T. and Singer. P (eds.), Animal Rights and Human Obligations. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 148-162.
Langton, R. (1993), 'Speech acts and unspeakable acts', Philosophy and Public Affairs 22: 4, 293-330.
Shue, H. (1996). Basic Rights: Subsistence, Affluence and U.S. Foreign Policy, 2nd ed. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
Nickel J. W. (2007). Making Sense of Human Rights. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Brownlee, Kimberley (2013). 'The Human Right Against Social Deprivation', Philosophical Quarterly 63: 251, 199- 222.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate understanding of the difference between natural and political rights;
2 Demonstrate understanding of the two major normative accounts of rights (the interest theory vs the choice theory);
3 Demonstrate understanding of fundamental questions surrounding human rights (what are they, why do we have them, are they universal?);
4 Demonstrate understanding of various rights that people might be thought to have and debate whether people do in fact have them (e.g. the right against social deprivation or the right to free speech);
5 Demonstrate understanding of the notion of a rights-bearer and debate whether various types of possible rights-bearers do in fact have anything approaching a right (e.g. animals);
6 Demonstrate understanding of different critiques of rights (e.g. feminist and communitarian critiques of rights);
7 Apply this theoretical understanding to relevant case studies (e.g. rights of future generations, animal rights).

he intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 To develop their skills in critical analysis and argument in both their reading and listening to others;
2 To develop the ability to make complex philosophical ideas understandable in their writing;
3 To develop the ability to make complex philosophical ideas understandable in their public speaking;
4 To develop the ability to work autonomously and to take responsibility for their learning.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.