Postgraduate Module Descriptor

LAWM129: Human Rights and Modern Technologies

This module descriptor refers to the 2021/2 academic year.

Module Aims

This module aims to give you the opportunity to critically evaluate how human rights law can tackle the issues posed by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies, and big data analytics. Examples of these issues relate to whether state authorities should be allowed to establish digital surveillance programmes based on bulk collection of personal data of all individuals in the name of national security; whether employers should be allowed to monitor employees’ text messages and activities on social media; whether privacy-compliant and ethical artificial intelligence is a possibility; whether there can be legal avenues to rectify possible mistakes in the digital identification of individuals using blockchain technologies; whether big data, including social media data, could  be used for the protection of vulnerable individuals including migrants and victims of human trafficking.  

The module aims to give you the necessary legal, theoretical and contextual background to understand topics such as privacy, data protection (including the General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR), freedom of expression, non-discrimination and due process in the digital age. Building on the case law of international human rights courts, in particular the European Court of Human Rights, but also exploring relevant decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the module aims to give you the opportunity to apply this legal knowledge to contemporary challenges. These include, for example, human rights obligations of technological companies, responsible innovation when it comes to artificial intelligence and automation, cybersecurity and the risks for human rights protection, digital identity and the protection of human rights.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here - you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. Demonstrate deep and systematic knowledge and understanding of the legal principles and the core provisions of International Human Rights Law as applicable to the regulation of new technologies;
2. Undertake complex critical evaluation of the main legal rules, theories and concepts laid down by the case law of supranational courts;
3. Identify, explain and evaluate legal problems posed by the development of new technologies and critically relate these to the regime of international human rights law;
Discipline-Specific Skills4. Demonstrate detailed and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of a range of legal concepts, principles, institutions and procedures and the ability to evaluate systematically the relationships among them;
5. Demonstrate deep and systematic knowledge and understanding of general principles of law and critical awareness of their contextual and political implications;
Personal and Key Skills6. Communicate effectively, confidently and autonomously in a range of complex and specialised contexts;
7. Work independently, effectively, and manage time efficiently in preparing for scheduled learning activities, exercises and assessments.